Workforce

House targets burrowers, new hires at agencies

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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a series of workforce-related bills that target burrowers and new hires while extending whistleblower and telework provisions.

The bills were approved by voice vote at a Nov. 2 business meeting.

The Ensuring a Qualified Civil Service Act, introduced by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), would establish a two-year probationary period for any federal position requiring formal training, including supervisors, managers and Senior Executive Service members. Under current Office of Personnel Management regulations, new supervisors are generally given a one-year probationary period.

The Political Appointee Burrowing Prevention Act, introduced by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), takes aim at political appointees’ conversions to career positions, a practice known as “burrowing in.” The bill would prohibit political appointees -- as well as former political appointees who have served within five years of conversion request date -- from being converted to civil service positions for at least two years after the conclusion of their political appointment.

The Whistleblower Protection Extension Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) and Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), would eliminate the sunset provision on the whistleblower ombudsman program, which is set to expire in November.

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) introduced an amendment to extend the authorization of the Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program beyond its current expiration date of Dec. 7, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2020.

Additionally, the committee passed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Act, introduced by in the House by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and in the Senate by Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is a co-sponsor of that legislation.

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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