Controversy over No FEAR continues
By Clarissa Spasyk
cyberFEDS® Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Already critical of the Office of Personnel Management’s proposed regulations on penalties for managers who harass their subordinates, some civil rights advocates are now questioning how public comments were gathered.
From Jan. 25 through May 1, the agency accepted e-mailed, faxed or mailed remarks on its proposed rules for the Notification and Federal Employees Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002. Many minority leaders immediately slammed the OPM’s recommendation to expand the definition of “discipline” — normally reserved for adverse actions such as demotions and removals — to include oral reprimands.
However, some opponents of the measure became more outraged when a federal employment attorney claimed his e-mailed comments, sent twice to the address provided in the regs, didn’t make it to the OPM because they were blocked.
“We’re suspicious,” said Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, chair of the No FEAR Coalition. “It’s a very serious situation.” The major concern, she said, is whether others’ e-mailed feedback got lost in cyberspace.
In a statement issued to cyberFEDS®, the OPM’s acting general counsel said she was unaware of any difficulties.
“We have no reason to believe there was a significant problem with e-mails being delivered,” Kathie Whipple said. “Comments were encouraged via mail, fax or e-mail.”