Letter to the editor
You say it's difficult to fire a federal employee, and I agree under the
normal civil service rules [Ask Milt column]. However, I am in the Defense Department Civilian Acquisition
Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project and, apparently, it is much easier
to fire someone.
I am a long-term cancer survivor with problems severe pain managed
(to a degree) with prescription narcotic medications, fibromyalgia, severe
osteoporosis of the spine, and the list goes on. I have not asked for "accommodations"
because I wanted to be "normal." While adjusting some of the medications,
I had recall problems and forgot to do two things on two separate occasions
that left my colonel in a difficult spot.
I had been detailed to his organization for the previous 18 months,
and he ended the detail. I agreed with his action because I did screw up.
Back in my old organization, I was told I had a clean slate. Effectively,
I had new job duties starting in April 2002.
The day I came back from my honeymoon, Aug. 7, 2002, I was told that
I was not performing my job duties satisfactorily and that documentation
was going to begin with the intent of firing me. The "demo" project makes
it easier to do just that, I guess.
I thought there was supposed to be a meeting to inform you of this negative
action, at which I thought a union rep was allowed to accompany you. I thought
a rehab program was supposed to be set up to get me back to performing my
duties with weekly/quarterly evaluations to check on my progress. I thought
the intention of this part of the demo was not to terminate the employee
but to help them again become contributing members of the organization's
I thought a lot of things, but I was wrong.
As a point of reference, I have received performance awards every year
since 1987 except for 1994. Luckily, I was given the option of taking a
medical disability retirement (with it's subsequent 60 percent reduction
in salary). At least I get to take my health and life insurance into retirement
I was quite vocal in the open meetings when the demo was presented to
us, even though it was a fait accompli because we had no choice in the matter.
I guess my speaking out has come back to haunt me.
Name withheld by request