No Supreme Court appeal for MaxHR

The Homeland Security Department has decided not to pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court for the MaxHR human resources system. The agency has now passed on all available options for appeal regarding the labor-relations portions of the pay-for-performance system.

Larry Orluskie, a DHS spokesman, said the decision came from the Justice Department’s Office of the Solicitor General late Sept. 25. The decision allows the agency to move forward to “pursue labor relations flexibilities rather than spending additional time in litigation,” Orluskie said.

“If we go to the Supreme Court, we'd go on and on and on,” he said. “What we're going to do is engage with our other partners, with the components, OPM, sit down with the unions and consider all available options.”

MaxHR had been tied down in courts because of problems with ensuring collective bargaining rights for employees. The original court decision, in August 2005, blocked labor-relations portions of MaxHR and was eventually reaffirmed by an appeals court in June.

Unions applauded the decision and agreed with DHS on the need to move past the court battles.

“DHS has made the right decision — for itself, for its employees and for our nation,” said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. The union led the fight against MaxHR in court. “It is now time for DHS to put this adversarial proceeding behind it and to join with NTEU in focusing solely on the agency’s critical mission of protecting the American people.”

“DHS management was in a battle they knew they couldn’t win,” said Mark Roth, general counsel of the American Federation of Government Employees. “The decision not to appeal was the right thing to do for management, and more importantly for DHS employees."

Currently, nearly 11,000 managers and supervisors are subject to MaxHR's performance management program, with almost 4,000 nonbargaining unit employees under the program. An additional 6,700 managers and employees will convert from the General Schedule system to MaxHR in October.

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