Workforce

NAPA working group floats proposal to roll back Trump's workforce orders

selected workers (nep0/Shutterstock.com) 

A proposed executive order by a working group at the National Academy of Public Administration would make changes to public sector hiring and compensation, shore up the Office of Personnel Management and undo a series of Trump-era executive orders.

The proposed executive order from NAPA's Working Group on Modernizing and Invigorating the Public Workforce is one of several featured in the Academy's Election 2020 Project action plan.

The proposal "recommends empowering the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to focus on getting the best results, not just on compliance," said Jeff Neal, Academy fellow, a former top human resources officer at multiple federal agencies and the head of the NAPA working group on the federal workforce.

Part of that includes changes to the federal hiring and compensation systems. The suggested executive order calls for the OPM Director to "create a strategy for delegating hiring and promotion authority to agencies based on their needs, rather than focusing all agencies into a one-size-fits-all approach."

Agency heads would be allowed to use recruitment, relocation and retention payments under the proposed order, which would also "significantly expand" the use of streamlined hiring authorities. The OPM Director would also be directed to review open competition requirements in order to give agencies the authority to competitively advertise vacancies by geographic region, as opposed to advertising them nationwide.

The executive order would also call for the OPM director to issue draft regulations for "modern assessment processes" within 90 days after eliminating applicant questionnaires that "are not valid assessment instruments."

The OPM director would also be instructed to reduce the number of General Schedule job classifications by at least 50% by Dec. 31, 2021.

The order also would make changes to the OPM itself. The OPM director would be categorized as a cabinet-level official, and the office would be directed to increase the number of positions involved in policy development while decreasing the amount of support and non-mission positions.

The working group also rolls back several controversial Trump administration executive orders, including Trump's executive order banning "divisive concepts" in diversity and inclusion training among federal employees, federal contractors and grant recipients, as well as the order creating a new "schedule F" of federal employees.

The proposed order would also rescind three 2018 executive orders that altered standards for grievance negotiations and turnaround plans for performance issues; restricted the use of "official time" that employees can spend on union business; and aimed to lower the cost of collective bargaining agreements.

For the latter two, the suggested executive order also allows provisions of collective bargaining agreements made under the orders to be reopened at the request of affected unions.

The executive order would reinstate labor-management forums at federal agencies, which were used during the Clinton and Obama administrations.

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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