Remembering Our Veterans

The end of World War I, November 11, 1918, would be officially observed by our country as Armistice Day beginning in 1919. This letter details how federal employees observed Armistice Day in 1919.

The observance would be officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954. You can learn about the change here: “H. Rpt 1333, Report on Changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day, 03/09/1954"  Notice that the official name is Veterans Day (not Veteran’s or Veterans’).

This document was recently digitized by teachers in our Primarily Teaching 2014 Summer Workshop in Washington, D.C.

Citation: Letter from the Department of Labor to the Commissioner General of Immigration Regarding the Observance of Armistice Day, 11/10/1919; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives. Available at http://owl.li/E3yEf

via National Archives Education | Facebook

Congressional Hearing Costs and Federal Employee Tax Debts

If you’re wondering how to imbue the IRS aka the Tax Man with more effective tax collecting superpowers, you don’t have to go looking for radioactive tax return eating spiders.

The IRS just needs to learn how to work with Congress and other federal agencies. Did you know the IRS spent $14 million on compliance issues related to congressional hearings and inquiries?

The cost is related to the 10,595,383,081 disclosures of taxpayer information Congress received from the IRS last year, four times higher than the disclosures provided in 2012.

Granted it was a rather special year with no love lost between the IRS and the House of Representatives. Even so, it’s painful to think that $14 million is being spent on 10.56 billion disclosures to Congress, most of which likely went unread.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, Congress handily beat the only other agency - the Census Bureau, which asked for more than a billion disclosures. The Census Bureau asked the IRS for a paltry 1,251,947,963 disclosures.

Another interesting factoid – Affordable Care Act related tax disclosures provided by the IRS added up to 9,145,639.

Another issue that popped up last week was the stunning $3.3 billion in tax debt that needs to be collected from federal employees.

To be specific, there were 318,462 federal employees who owed back taxes as of Sept 30, 2013. Oh, and it gets better. A full 714 of these tax delinquents are on Capitol Hill, and the IRS needs to collect a total of 8.6 million from them.

To be even more specific, 4.87 percent of employees in the House of Representatives have unpaid taxes, while there are 3.24 percent in the Senate.

Lest we forget, the Executive Office of the President has 36 employees who are tax delinquents, so the malaise is just as widespread on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

In case you didn’t know, the Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, has a far lower rate of tax delinquents who add up to a mere 1.2 percent of the department’s workforce.

Maybe the IRS could herd all these delinquent cats into one room and tell them that they can either pay their taxes right away or get Congress and the Obama Administration to work together and pass a few tax reform laws that the IRS desperately needs in order to be more efficient.

 Photo credit - house.gov

Photo caption: “Manpower shortage is so acute in Washington, D.C. that for the first time in history, Negro women are employed as gardeners in the Rose Gardens of the Botanical Gardens - one of the beauty spots of the Nation’s Capital.”, ca. 1940s

Roger Smith, photographer

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division (NY Public Library)

Republicans Want To Take Money From The Elderly And Injured To Pay For Roads

Republicans Want To Take Money From The Elderly And Injured To Pay For Roads

It takes a pair of brass ones to tell the American people that some of the ways we should pay to fix our crumbling roads and bridges is to take money away from Social Security, people’s retirements and money spent on the disabled. But if you’re Mitch McConnell and the Republicans, the message for everyone not in the 1% is “Fuck you”: Senate Republicans have floated a package of options to fund a…

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Jobs in Archaeology: Part I

What does a Federal Archaeologist do?  Good question.  Federal archaeologists protect cultural resources on public lands by following a variety of laws, such as NHPA, ARPA, NEPA, and NAGPRA.  These resources, which means anything 50 years old or older, need to be protected from destruction by trail maintenance, wildfire, recreation, visitation, vandalism, and so many other things. So, we say ‘NO’ a lot.

Think of it this way: public lands (BLM, NPS, Forest Service, etc.) are like a giant museum.  When walking through a museum, people aren’t allowed to smash up the cases and take whatever they want or break something because they feel like it.  Same idea applies, only we don’t have our archaeological sites in protective cases.


National Archives Staff, 75 Years Ago

Series: Identification Cards for Employees, 1941 - 1942Record Group 64: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789 - ca. 2007 

Employee ID cards of a few of our past @usnatarchives colleagues, from seventy-five years ago, on May 22, 1941.  From a series of photographic identification cards which were issued to National Archives employees.  Each card contains a portrait of the employee, their signature, the date, and the signature of the Archivist of the United States.

More about the history of the National Archives and its staff in our series on 80th anniversary of the National Archives!

In the coming weeks I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty.

PRESIDENT OBAMA, setting the bar on raising the minimum wage.

Again, no applause from the Republicans.

Watch on justinspoliticalcorner.tumblr.com

(via Fox’s Varney On Furloughed Federal Employees: “I Want To Punish These People” | Blog | Media Matters for America)

Fox Business host Stuart Varney believes that the ongoing government shutdown, while presenting no real threat to the economy, offers an opportunity to “punish” federal workers for “living on our backs.”

On the October 2 edition of AM 560's The Big John & Amy Show, co-hosts John Howell and Amy Jacobsoninterviewed Fox Business’ Stuart Varney and asked him about the government shutdown and its effect on workers and the economy. Varney stated, incorrectly, that the shutdown was not having an impact on financial markets or the greater economy before launching into a tirade against federal employees.

Varney had this to say:

HOWELL: Do you think that federal workers, when this ends, are deserving of their back pay or not?

VARNEY: That is a loaded question isn’t it? You want my opinion? This is President Obama’s shutdown. He is responsible for shutting this thing down; he’s taken an entirely political decision here. No, I don’t think they should get their back pay, frankly, I really don’t. I’m sick and tired of a massive, bloated federal bureaucracy living on our backs, and taking money out of us, a lot more money than most of us earn in the private sector, then getting a furlough, and then getting their money back at the end of it. Sorry, I’m not for that. I want to punish these people. Sorry to say that, but that’s what I want to do.

Fuck you, Stuart Varney!


Happy 135th Birthday, Albert Einstein! (also, Pi Day!)

Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm Germany.  He entered the United States in June of 1935 and filed this declaration of intent to become a citizen in January of 1936. He would become a U.S. citizen in 1940.  

In 1939 he collaborated with fellow physicist Leo Szilard on a letter regarding advances in nuclear research to President Franklin Roosevelt, which would ultimately lead to the development of the Manhattan Project. During World War II, he also worked as a part-time Federal employee developing underwater weapons for the U.S. Navy. Some of his correspondence from this work is available in our online catalog.

In 1948 he appeared in this instructional film “Atomic Physics,” explaining how the work of other scientists featured in the film illustrated his theory of equivalence of mass and energy. 

Texas GOP Bill Takes Salaries And Pensions Away From State Employees Who Obey Federal Same-Sex Marriage Rulings

Texas GOP Bill Takes Salaries And Pensions Away From State Employees Who Obey Federal Same-Sex Marriage Rulings

If you’re a state employee in Texas, you could soon be stripped of your paycheck and pension if you obey federal court rulings that Republicans don’t like.

In response to federal court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans, Texas Republicans have introduced a bill in the state legislature that would punish state workerswho don’t reject federal court decisions ruling same-sex marriage bans…

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Four elderly men charged with plotting murder of federal employees
  • 68 average age of four attempted terrorists from Georgia source

» Don’t forget about domestic terrorism: The four men in question have been described as belonging to a fringe militia group, and the virulent anti-government rhetoric attributed to them seems in line with that: “There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that’s highly, highly illegal. Murder. That’s f**king illegal, but it’s got to be done,” said Frederick Thomas, 73. Also, from the “young buck” of the group, the 65-year-old Ray Adams: “The first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings.” The quartet appeared in court today, and had trouble hearing what the judge was saying despite her use of a microphone. We smell an action-packed reboot to Grumpy Old Men for some reason.

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Augustus J. Siko - Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, 7/31/1941

Series: Identification Cards for Employees, 1941 - 1942Record Group 64: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789 - ca. 2007

Dated seventy-five years ago today, this is the employee identification card of Augustus Julius Siko, a museum aide at the then-newly opened @fdrlibrary.  He is also among the staff memorialized on this small plaque on display in the Pennsylvania Avenue lobby of the National Archives in Washington, DC, which many of us here pass daily:

An unveiling ceremony in 1947 included this biography in the program:

Augustus Julius Siko, son of Steven and Elizabeth Siko, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, on December 19, 1921. He graduated from the Poughkeepsie High School in June 1940 and entered upon his duties at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, on June 27, 1941. His military service began on November 21, 1942. Lieutenant Siko was a member of the Army Air Forces at the time of his death on October 14, 1943, at Neighbors, California. His widow is Mrs. Frances Mazzarelli Siko.

Following the unveiling, Archivist Solon J. Buck received the plaque, noting that while the National Archives staff was small in size, they had a larger percentage of staff who served in World War II than any other Federal agency.

Learn about the other National Archives staff memorialized on the plaque at: National Archives War Memorial Plaque | Prologue: Pieces of History

Please fire me. We recently hired a new general manager, who tends to over-explain very simple things. Today, regrettably, I asked him to double check a tax exemption profile I filled out, as it was federal and I’m more accustomed to state. The thirty minute seminar ended with him explaining how to use a stapler remover.

Feds Order Federal Employee Health Plans To Cover Transgender Health Services
LGBT advocates praised the long-awaited move to cover transition-related care — while noting that questions about implementation remain.
By Chris Geidner

“Effective January 1, 2016, no carrier participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program may have a general exclusion of services, drugs or supplies related to gender transition or ‘sex transformations,’” the letter stated. “This letter clarifies OPM’s earlier guidance recognizing the evolving professional consensus that treatment may be medically necessary to address a diagnosis of gender dysphoria” — the medical diagnosis that corresponds with seeking treatment for being transgender.

Years before the White House was lit in rainbow colors celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage, President Obama used a routine bureaucratic tool that ended up significantly changing the government’s understanding of gender and how it can be changed.

The process began during Obama’s first year in office when he issued a memo in June 2009 instructing agencies to extend to same-sex couples some benefits that the spouses of federal employees receive. Over time, that directive led to a decision by the Social Security Administration to greatly lower the threshold requirements for changing one’s sex on official government documents, a change that would determine how a person’s gender is recorded on passports, tax returns, marriage licenses and other documents.

Since June 2013, someone wishing to change their sex classification on their Social Security card has needed to provide only a doctor’s note guaranteeing that “appropriate clinical treatment” is underway.

Before then, a person seeking to change their sex on the document had to undergo gender reassignment surgery, an expensive and, many LGBT advocates and doctors say, unnecessary procedure for a transition to take place.


Obama’s Quiet Transgender Revolution | Juliet Eilperin for the Washington Post

A great Friday read on what the Obama administration has done for transgender communities. In one word: lots. 

RUSSIAN FEDERATION, Moscow : Employees work in an office in Moscow on December 15, 2014. The Russian ruble tumbled 9.5 percent Monday to new record lows as falling crude prices pulled the rug out from under the currency of the oil exporting nation, with analysts saying the Kremlin needs to act to stop the free fall. The plunge in the ruble came as the central bank warned the low oil price could trigger a contraction of nearly 5 percent next year and tensions surged with the United States over Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV