The end of the year looks to be bringing some much needed good news to those of us who are Federal employees.

Last week we heard that a budget deal was made and that we would see the end of the immediate sequestration cuts the we dealt with in 2013.

The Washington Post reported that Federal employees would receive a 1-percent pay raise next year. This is the first pay raise for Federal  employees since 2010.


Birthdays at the Office

October 15, 2013 — 1 Comment

If you work in a small office, like MHLI, co-worker birthdays offer a nice break from the routine. We usually go out to lunch as an office and everyone chips in. Whoevers birthday it is might decide to pick up some cupcakes or bagels to celebrate. If we are feeling festive, someone might come in to the office early and do a little desk decorating.

If you work in a larger office environment, birthdays may be such a regular occurrence that someone implemented a birthday celebration policy. Once a month communal birthdays are common.

It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine’s office was celebrating so many office birthdays (and anniversaries and sick days) with a cake that she started craving the afternoon sugar rush.

If you do a quick internet search about office birthdays, you will find a lot of opinions. Birthdays and other milestones can be seen as a small way for the team to bond outside of the regular workday parameters. If can also be a way to make the more socially awkward nervous or even to breed discontent.

Does your office allow people to “opt-out” of birthday fun? Do you love or hate office birthdays?

In general, there are 4 types of learners:

  • Visual: Learning best from symbolic diagrams, flow charts, graphs, maps and organization charts
  • Aural: Comprehension from discussion, oral presentations, listening and speaking.
  • Read/Write: Learning through the precision of words in written text. The internet, power point presentation and reports are all Read/Write learning experiences.
  • Kinesthetic: Learning through personal experience, simulations and examples


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Not My Job

September 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

What can we learn from professionals who have completely different jobs than we do? Learning how to take best practices and nuggets of brilliance from someone who is at the top of their game, even if we aren’t playing the same game is a great skill. There is a reason why Astronauts and Professional Athletes and Authors are often asked to speak at conferences and meetings about more mundane topics (like accounting or military housing).

I found some great videos on TED Talks on topics that seem lofty, but can it ever be wrong to make your brain work a little harder?

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius –  “It is exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me.” Ms. Gilbert is the author of “Eat, Prat, Love.” She shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius.

Sean Carroll: Distant Time and the Hint of a Multiverse – Why does time exist at all?

Christopher McDougall: Are We Born to Run? – Exploring the mysteries of the human desire to run.

Adora Svitak (age 13): What Adults Can Learn from Kids – The world needs more “childish” thinking.

Have you heard the story about the AOL CEO, Tim Armstrong, firing an employee with over 1,000 employees listening in on a conference call? The call was leading up to laying off workers (in the future), but the purpose seemed to be to rally the troops in the face of adverse times ahead. And then, abruptly and publicly, he fired a Creative Director.

You can read about it here and here and here. You can even listen to the audio here.

Business conference

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A small number of people spend their day as social media experts. They cull information from the farthest recesses of the web, identifying trends and are always the earliest adopters of the newest social media platforms.

Whether you consider yourself “social media savvy” or just capable or possibly perplexed, we are well beyond the time when professionals can pretend that social media doesn’t matter, or is just for kids, or isn’t serious. Social Media is serious business, and not just for the social media gurus or your kids.

Of course, keeping up with friends and family is a great way to use various social media. It is also an important way to continue to cultivate your growing network of peers. Have you been on LinkedIn recently? There are groups on LinkedIn for military housing professionals, for federal employees, for local real estate, and whatever else your job entails. In your own profile, you can add your experience (like a resume) and list your skills and expertise. The great part about LinkedIn, is that people in your network (your coworkers, peers, etc.) can endorse your list of skills and write recommendations. And, you can do this for people in your network, too.

Social Media impacts your job, whether or not you use it in your daily duties. If you work in military housing, whether at the HQ or Installation level, social media MUST be on your radar.Networking

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Problems at DFAS?

July 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

Reuters published an in depth report detailing the deficiencies of DFAS – the Defense Finance Accounting Service.

This scathing article, “How the Pentagon’s Payroll Quagmire Traps Soldiers” written by Scot J. Paltrow and Kelly Carr outlines the high cost of the Pentagon’s outdated accounting systems. The article makes a laundry list of claims about DFAS from its complexity to the point of ridiculousness to the department’s inability to adapt to new technology. Most striking is the interviews with wounded warriors and their families who have been impacted by DFAS errors.

DFAS provides finance and accounting services for the civil and military members of the Department of Defense (wiki). The agency was created in 1991 by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. The most visible responsibility of DFAS is military pay, though it handles other accounting for the Services as well.

Headquartered in Indiana, DFAS has over 10,000 civilian defense workers who are part of the defense furlough.

Additional problems plague DFAS, including an independent audit reports DFAS has been incorrectly calculating some retirees payments.


Not all news is bad. According to a new study by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that the federal workforce is still ahead on telework.

Welcome to the MHL Blog!

Nextgov reports that more than 112,000 federal employees participated in Telework Week, with 87%  already engaged in telework.

Also, Government Executive blogged about the myths of the “cool office” found in Silicon Valley and other tech companies. The Atlantic Wire calls the whole thing a ruse, with the added perks of free lunch and unlimited vacation days really means that your employer is controlling more of your time – not less!

MHLI is in the news!

From the news release:

Military Housing and Lodging Institute is a federal organization with an emphasis on the management and operation of all Department of Defense housing. The institutes’ employees conducted training recently for more than 30 military and civilian unaccompanied housing managers aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune as part of a new quarterly training initiative.

The Marines who attended the training ranged from lance corporals to gunnery sergeants.

With substantial improvement in the infrastructure of the Marine Corps, ensuring the barracks are properly maintained and cared for is paramount to maximize the life cycle of the buildings and furnishings.

During the two-day course, the unaccompanied housing managers learned a variety of skills, including basic elements of housing management. They also learned about required policies, directives and instructions governing barracks management.

Read more:

Training Photo

The Dishonest Tradition of Fudging the Facts on a Résumé