Sarah Ford | July 12, 2013

July 10th Hearing Successfully Brings to Light Concerns Over Proposed OPM Changes to the CFC

On July 10, 2013, the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census conducted a hearing entitled, “The Combined Federal Campaign: Making Every Dollar Count.”  The room was so full that some attendees had to stand in the hall.  The hearing was requested after some 1,400 comments were submitted to public record regarding changes to the proposed rules to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the nation’s largest, most successful workplace giving program. The vast majority of these comments were critical of and opposed to the proposed changes.

The hearing resulted from the work of the Save the CFC coalition comprised of America’s Charities, Christian Service Charities, Community Health Charities of America, EarthShare, Global Impact, Human Service Charities of America, Independent Sector, National Black United Fund, Inc., United Way Worldwide and YMCA of America in our collective outreach to Congress expressing our deep concerns with aspects of OPM’s proposed changes. 

With help from America’s Charities members and through contacts of Community Health Charities, we secured a meeting just prior to the hearing with Rep. Farenthold, the Subcommittee Chair.  At this meeting we were able to present our concerns in great detail. In his opening statement at yesterday’s hearing Rep. Farenthold voiced those concerns and challenged OPM as to why they are proposing such radical change.   This theme was prevalent in all attending Subcommittee member comments with each challenging OPM on essentially the same issues brought forth by the Save the CFC coalition.  

Click here to hear Rep. Farenthold’s opening remarks and to view the entire hearing.

The first hearing witness was Rep.David G. Reichert (R-WA-8) who was a former CFC volunteer leader. In a powerful opening statement by Rep. Reichert, he emphasized the seriousness of the issue, and the personal impact the CFC has had on families across the country including his own.  He urged OPM to rethink the proposed changes, which he did not support.  Testimony from a sitting member of Congress who is not on a subcommittee carries significant weight.

Other witnesses were:

  • Ms. Ju’Coby Pittman, President and CEO, Clara White Mission; Jacksonville, FL;
  • Mr. Kalman Stein, President and CEO, EarthShare;
  • Ms. Debby Hampton, President and CEO, United Way of Central Oklahoma;
  • Mr. Ken Berger, President and CEO, Charity Navigator; Glen Rock, NJ; and
  • Mr. Mark Lambert, Associate Director for Merit System Accountability and Compliance, U.S. Office of Personnel Management; Washington. D.C.

All the witnesses (with the obvious exception of OPM) focused on the same major concerns: the non refundable and unspecified upfront fee, loss of local campaign structure and personal involvement by donors in the campaign, the dramatic losses other campaigns have seen when they moved to online only giving options, and the dramatic impact such a decline in giving would have on charities’ ability to provide services.  

The universal recommendation was that OPM should call a halt to the proposed changes and take into account the voices of federal workers and the nonprofit community.  This point was particularly underscored by Kal Stein and Ken Berger, both of whom served on the CFC 50 Commission.  Both recommended that OPM carefully test proposed changes as part of a fully inclusive process.

Another common criticism from witnesses and subcommittee members was the lack of specificity and details in OPM’s proposed changes.  Rep. Walberg pressed particularly hard on this issue grilling OPM’s Mark Lambert for details and research to support the proposed changes.  In most cases Lambert was unable to provide any substantial research that would demonstrate that the proposed changes would not hurt the campaign.

The Save the CFC coalition considered the hearing a success in drawing broader attention to our concerns.  Since yesterday several media outlets have reported on the hearing.  Links to that coverage are found below.

Following the hearing, we had an opportunity to speak briefly with OPM officials who would not provide a timeframe for their next steps or decisions and were non-committal in terms of their inclination to make changes.  All they would say is that it is a “process” and they would be taking the Subcommittee’s perspective and the feedback received through the Federal Register “into account” as they move forward.

It is important to remember that while Congress has held this hearing and we appear to have strong advocates in both the House and Senate, OPM can still impose these new rules if it chooses to do so.  It is up to us to continue to keep the pressure on members of Congress to follow-up and direct OPM not to impose those aspects of the proposed changes that are likely to dramatically hurt giving and participation.

The CEOs of the core federations driving the coalition will meet today to plan next steps and continue to build upon this momentum.  We will keep you totally apprised as we move forward.  Several staff members of Congressional Offices as well as the Subcommittee staff cited how impressed they were with our efforts and the specificity and logic of our concerns.  This bodes well as we move forward.

More news articles about the July 10th hearing:

 

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