US federal retiree benefits rise again; Nigeria plans innovation hub to promote economic transition: management & workforce news in brief

By on 20/10/2022 | Updated on 20/10/2022
There have been calls for the US federal government to move the annual increase in retirement annuities closer to spending among retirees, which is represented in the consumer price index for the elderly. Photo by pasja1000 via Pixabay

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US federal retirees to see biggest benefits boost in years amid ongoing disparity talks

For the second year in a row US federal government retirees will receive the biggest boost to their benefits payments in decades.

The country’s Social Security Administration announced that the annual social security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for next year will be 8.7% – the biggest increase to annuity payments since 1981 – though this won’t apply to all federal retirees. Federal staff enrolled in the newer Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) will only receive a 7.7% increase in their annuities.

Earlier this year, senator Alex Padilla put forward legislation that would standardise the annual cost-of-living adjustments that federal retirees receive across both retirement systems.

Read more: Biden confirms US federal pay rise for 2023

Ken Thomas, national president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association criticised the disparity. He said “inequitable policy” had “fail[ed] to fully protect the earned value of annuities” under the Federal Employees Retirement System, which decrease in value year after year causing “exactly what [these adjustments] are intended to prevent”.

Social security cost-of-living increases are calculated using the annual change in the third quarter consumer price index for workers. However, Thomas reaffirmed his association’s call for government to move the annual increase in retirement annuities closer to spending among retirees, which is represented in the consumer price index for the elderly. The proposal was endorsed by president Joe Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign, but has not yet materialised.

Minister vows to revive ‘mothballed’ Australian Public Service reform agenda

Australia’s minister for the public service Katy Gallagher has outlined her plan to rebuild the Australian Public Service (APS) in a speech in which she blamed the previous government for neglecting to implement needed reforms.

The reform plan is expected to build on the 2019 Thodey Review, a landmark independent review of the APS which culminated in a 385-page report and 40 recommendations. Gallagher said the reform agenda created in response to the review had been “largely mothballed by the previous government”.

As a result, she said Australian citizens had come view government with “a jaundiced eye”, and that reforms were essential for regaining public trust. She pointed to the most recent Edelman Public Trust Barometer, which found that just over half (52%) of Australians trust government “to do the right thing” – down nine points from 2021.

In her speech, Gallagher touched on the four priorities of the APS reform agenda: integrity; putting people and business at the centre of policy and services; ensuring APS became a model employer; and making sure it had sufficient capacity to deliver.

In relation to the second point, she said: “When someone is asking for help at their local Centrelink or using MyService to access support as a veteran, they don’t care which programme belongs in what portfolio. They don’t care who the minister is or the departmental secretary for that matter. What they want is a system that works. They want to be treated as a human being, with respect, dignity, and fairness.”

Read more: Minister vows to revive ‘mothballed’ APS reform agenda

Gallagher added that neglect of the country’s public institutions were due to “outsourcing, poor resourcing, clunky systems, and a decade of deliberate devaluing of the APS”, all of which meant that reforms would take time.

Drawing on recognition of citizens’ experiences throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Gallagher said that the role of the public sector had appreciated in the last three years, but that actions taken to strengthen public services too often involved bringing in consultants, rather than building capacity within the APS. Weaning the APS off its use of consultants and contractors was one of Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s pledges ahead of the Australian federal election in May, which his party won, ousting the Liberal-National Coalition after nine years in power.

Nigeria to build innovation centre to promote economic ‘renaissance’

The Nigerian government is to launch an innovation centre in the country’s Enugu state, the country’s minister of state for science, technology and innovation, Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh, has announced.

At an event in Enugu – which focused on the need for Nigeria to build technology and innovation centres with the aim of boosting its global competitiveness and productivity – Ikoh gave a speech about a presidential executive known as ‘Executive Order No.5’.

“The Executive Order No.5 is aimed at placing the Nigerian service providers, farmers, manufacturers, youth, women and other national stakeholders at the centre of the Nigerian economy. It is an interventionist instrument of the present administration to promote a new renaissance that would transform our economy from a resource to a knowledge-based economy, or what you can call from consumption to production, that is driven by innovation,” he explained.

Read more: Public servants ‘fall flat’ on policy delivery, says Nigeria’s vice president

According to the order, the federal ministry of science, technology and innovation must create technology and innovation centres to improve information systems and management capability across government and to promote the country’s productivity and global competitiveness.

Ikoh said the Enugu centre would also seek to establish “a framework for consultation, sharing experience, information and practices”, as well as an environment suited to interaction among scientists, researchers and inventors “with projects in various geopolitical zones of the country and internationally”.

He added: “The federal government will do its best to ensure that the Executive Order No.5 is fully implemented using the technology and innovation centres as a major component to create wealth, strengthen our economy, reduce poverty and provide employment for our people.”

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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