Congress

Chaffetz bill targets feds who owe back taxes

Shutterstock image: Capitol building in Washington, D.C. 

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is going to vote on a slate of bills that could impact procurement and the federal workforce at its Jan. 31 business meeting.

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is going after tax cheats on the government payroll. His Tax Accountability Act would prohibit grant or contract awards to individuals or companies with "seriously delinquent" tax debt. Prospective federal employees with such debt would be ineligible for hire, and current employees could be terminated for carrying delinquent tax debt under the bill. "Seriously delinquent" means that a debt has been assessed by the IRS and it may be collected by court proceedings or by direct levy on an employee's earnings. It doesn't refer to tax debt that is being paid off by an employee.

Ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is offering the Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination Act that would bolster anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and expand agency accountability in disclosing and enforcing requirements in instances where discrimination and retaliation have taken place. To do so, the bill mandates a tracking system to monitor the status of complaints and to note any punishment rendered in the offending employee’s personnel file. Cummings is also sponsoring the Federal Intern Protection Act, which would extend the same protections against harassment and discrimination afforded to federal employees to cover unpaid interns.

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) is introducing the Follow the Rules Act, to extend a prohibition against punishing an employee for refusing to obey an order in violation of a law to include orders that would violate a rule or regulation. The act passed the House by voice vote in the previous Congress but did not get a vote in the Senate.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee, is backing a bill that would expand the use of "design-build" contracts in facilities contracting, while restricting the use of reverse auctions for contracts covering the same kind of work.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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