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 mission.

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 with me.

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

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