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Plan would overhaul Combined Federal Campaign

Jan. 11, 2013 - 12:10PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 11, 2013 - 12:10PM  |  
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The Combined Federal Campaign, its future threatened by lackluster participation and declining pledges, would undergo a far-reaching transformation under a plan in the works from the Office of Personnel Management.

The plan, http://apps.federaltimes.com/projects/files/opm-cfc.pdf">outlined in a 53-page draft package of rules obtained by Federal Times, a sister publication of Military Times, would abolish the existing system of 184 local and state-based CFCs in favor of a smaller number of regional organizations more closely controlled by OPM. The 184 local federal coordinating committees that oversee the individual campaigns would disappear in favor of an unspecified number of regional committees. Similarly, the 184 principal combined fund organizations (PCFOs) that provide fundraising and management services to each campaign would be replaced by one or more central campaign administrators, according to the package.

While OPM did not offer specific examples of how this approach would work in practice, it could in theory mean that campaigns now based in Montgomery, Ala., and Chattanooga, Tenn., would in the future be run out of Atlanta. Local United Way organizations, which frequently serve as the PCFOs under contract, could lose much of that business.

"We believe that a centralized approach will benefit from economies of scale and ultimately reduce overhead costs," OPM Director John Berry wrote in an introduction to the draft package.

Some of the plan's specific proposals follow recommendations made last year by the CFC-50 Commission, an advisory panel that Berry assembled to examine the campaign's operations 50 years after its creation. Overall, Berry said, OPM believes the proposed changes will "improve the CFC, based on its experience administering the program and its considered judgment."

Instead of donors indirectly paying for most campaign overhead costs with money taken from their pledges, each of the thousands of CFC charities would have to pay an unspecified upfront nonrefundable application fee to participate in the CFC each year. They currently pay no application fee.

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