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OPM sees benefits in CFC overhaul

Jul. 9, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Mark Lambert
Mark Lambert, a former director of the Combined Federal Campaign, is scheduled to testify at a Wednesday congressional hearing. (Staff)
Mark Lambert, a former director of the Combined Federal Campaign, is scheduled to testify at a Wednesday congressional hearing. / Staff

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The Office of Personnel Management is standing by its proposed overhaul of the Combined Federal Campaign, according to prepared testimony released in advance of a congressional hearing on the controversial plan.

The proposals, although significant, “will result in more transparency, efficiency and accountability for the CFC, while reducing costs,” Mark Lambert, an OPM official who oversaw the campaign from 2008 to 2010, said in written remarks to the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on the federal workforce. The hearing, titled “The Combined Federal Campaign: Making Every Dollar Count,” is set for Wednesday afternoon; the panel has posted testimony from all six witnesses on its website.

OPM, which received almost 1,400 comments on the draft plan, is reviewing that feedback, Lambert added. In his prepared testimony, he did not say whether the agency is contemplating any major revisions to the draft or when it will issue a final proposal. Despite a recent falloff in pledges, the CFC remains the world’s largest annual workplace charity campaign, with almost $260 million raised last year, according to OPM.

But other witnesses are likely to highlight a battery of concerns. While some of the proposed changes — such as creation of a permanent disaster relief program and pushing back the annual start of the 3 ˝-month campaign from September to October — appear to have broad support, others will further drive down participation and pledges, some CFC organizers and participants contend.

OPM, for example, wants to supplant the current structure of local federal coordinating committees with an unspecified number of regional panels. To reduce overhead, the agency is also seeking to abandon paper pledges and move to online and other forms of electronic giving.

Both proposals worry Ju’Coby Pittman, CEO and president of the Clara White Mission, who is also scheduled to testify at the hearing. Over the last five years, the mission has raised more than $190,000 through the CFC to provide job training, assistance to the homeless and other services in the Jacksonville, Fla. area, Pittman said in her testimony. The proposed changes, she said, would “limit the local, face-to-face contact and communication that is necessary to explain our charity’s mission, recruit volunteers and advocate for our cause.”

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