Civil service changes pass in NDAA, while Trump plans workforce moves

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The Senate voted 92-7 to pass the $619 billion 2017 defense bill on Dec. 8, sending the measure to President Barack Obama to sign.

Tucked away in the massive bill are two civil service changes that impact feds facing administrative accusations of misconduct. The Administrative Leave Reform Act sets a cap of 10 days total per calendar year of paid leave for employees facing misconduct investigations. Thirty-day increments of investigative leave are permitted "in extraordinary circumstances," and more than three such periods requires congressional approval

Bill Valdez, president of the Senior Executives Association, welcomed the move. "This is a victory for good government. The misuse of extended administrative leave has a significant impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of departments and agencies, in addition to its infringement on employees' due process rights," Valdez said in a statement.

A related measure applies to feds who leave federal service while under investigation. The Official Personnel File Enhancement Act requires all agencies to include adverse findings from completed investigations into personnel files of separated employees.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, who sponsored both bills, applauded their inclusion in the final National Defense Authorization Act.

"The vast majority of federal workers are honest, hardworking Americans who proudly serve their country," he said. "But, as in most large groups, there are some bad apples. Together, these bills will help curb costly and unfair abuses taken by misbehaving employees."

While these measures are applicable only to feds accused of misconduct, larger shifts for the federal civil service may be coming from the Trump administration. On the campaign trail, then-candidate Donald Trump promised to institute a hiring freeze across the federal civilian workforce if elected.

While no specifics on the Trump team's plan have been released, a Trump spokesperson said on a Dec. 8 call with reporters that plans for a freeze and other workforce policies would be set forth before President-elect Trump takes office. Trump transition spokesperson Jason Miller said that Trump "sent clear signals" of his intentions to cut federal positions, and once in office plans "a number of policy and executive orders" related to workforce.

Over the past few years Republicans in Congress have proposed a number of changes to the way federal employment is organized and administered, from cutting defined-benefit pensions and other job perks, to plans to cut the workforce by attrition, to restricting union activity by federal employees.

Staff writer Mark Rockwell contributed reporting to this story.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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