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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Contact: Brendan LaCivita
Tel: 202-606-2402

Bush Administration Approves Special Charity Option for California Counties Wildfire Victims

OPM Director Kay Coles James creates solicitation vehicle for wildfire relief efforts

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James issued a memorandum (attached) to local heads of federal agencies in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Diego, and Santa Barbara counties authorizing for special solicitations on behalf of victims of the 2003 Southern California wildfires.

James authorized agency heads to conduct a special solicitation on behalf of charities assisting in relief efforts in support of the victims of the fires. "President Bush recognizes the impact the fires had on California families, and, consistent with the spirit of volunteerism and generosity that federal employees are known for, the Administration has created this special solicitation as a vehicle for federal team members who wish to donate to organizations providing care to families in the affected communities," remarked James.

James wrote in the memorandum that the authority allows the option of implementing a one-time only solicitation at the workplace should employees like to provide immediate assistance to charities involved in relief efforts. The special solicitation period will end December 15 to avoid any conflicts with the ongoing CFC.

Because funds raised through any special solicitation may be received only in the form of cash or check and may not be counted toward the CFC, James encouraged federal officials involved in any special solicitations to include their respective ethics officials in the planning and development of fundraising activities. "I want to ensure that any special solicitation is planned appropriately so that there are no delays in distributing relief assistance to individuals and families in need," James remarked.

The special solicitation authority is one of several efforts OPM has made for victims of the wildfires. In an October 28 memorandum, James reminded heads of federal departments and agencies of their authority to provide flexible work schedules for workers to take care of their personal needs as a result of the widespread destruction.

"Federal government employees affected by these fires can be assured we will extend all available flexibilities so they may care for their families and assist their local communities wherever the need may be," James stated in the memorandum. The Bush Administration also recently approved an emergency request from the United States Forest Service to extend employment time limits for firefighters on temporary appointment who were battling the Southern California wildfires.

To further assist the firefighting effort, OPM has posted a web site that retired federal firefighters may contact to state their interest in returning to temporary duty. That web address is apps.opm.gov/wildfires. Retired firefighters also may call 1-866-670-4943, or send an e-mail to wildfires@opm.gov, to express their interest in this firefighting effort.

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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.


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