RIF rights, and elaborating on special rates

FCW.com's Ask Milt column

A Reader Writes:

I am writing on behalf of a friend. Where can we get information on his rights as a Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentality program employee at a Coast Guard base? He has 13 years of service. He is being reduced in force and would like to know what his rights are.

Milt Replies:

There are many variables that may affect the range of an employee's eligibility for reduction in force (RIF) rights.

Office of Personnel Management's RIF regulations must give effect to four factors in releasing employees:

1. Tenure of employment (e.g., type of appointment).

2. Veterans preference.

3. Length of service.

4. Performance ratings.

The law does not assign any relative weight to the four factors, or require that the factors be followed in any particular order.

An agency is required to use RIF procedures when an employee is faced with separation or downgrading for a reason such as reorganization, lack of work, shortage of funds, insufficient personnel ceiling, or the exercise of certain re-employment or restoration rights.

A furlough of more than 30 calendar days, or of more than 22 discontinuous workdays, is also a RIF action. (A furlough of 30 or fewer calendar days, or of 22 or fewer discontinuous workdays, is an adverse action.)

For more information, go to http://www.fedquest.com/opmrefs/tb6a.htm

A Reader Comments:

Your brief mention of special rates was so limited that it was meaningless ["Special rates not so special, and firing feds"].

At present, the management in most federal agencies is not interested in recommending higher special rates for any job category. Their payroll budgets cannot accommodate this type of pay increase and would only force them to make reductions in other staff.

The Office of Personnel Management conducted a survey of engineering positions in 2000 and then postponed issuance of a survey report to December 2001. The anticipated publication of this survey was again postponed last December. OPM likely will not publish the survey now as the data is "out of date."

The OPM surveyor has made herself unavailable to queries on the status of this survey. If published, the survey would likely demonstrate a huge gap in "pay comparability" to equivalent engineering positions in private but comparable large businesses. It also would divulge that most federal agencies could no longer attract new engineers due to the inadequate salaries.

Engineering within the federal government needs a quick and drastic boost. There is no semblance of technical control over most large contracts and acquisitions in either the military or civilian sectors of the federal government. Most contracting officers just give away the store with no concerns about cost savings. The attitude is usually to spend whatever the budget allocations allow.

Zall is a retired federal employee who since 1987 has written the Bureaucratus column for Federal Computer Week. He can be reached at milt.zall@verizon.net.

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