Legislation was introduced in the House late last week that is designed to make it easier to remove federal employees for poor performance by limiting the amount of time they would have to appeal a firing decision.
The Federal Employee Accountability Act (FEAA) of 2016 (H.R. 5908) was introduced by Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL). Under the legislation, federal workers would have 7 days to appeal a disciplinary decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The MSPB would then have 45 days to issue a decision, but if no decision were issued in that time, the agency’s disciplinary decision would stand.
“We have all heard it before, ‘You should get a government job; it is hard to be fired from those jobs,'” said Yoho. “Federal employees, while necessary to the functioning of government, are notorious for being difficult to remove even when they are sloppy in their duties. A perfect example of this can be found at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). An EPA manager was permitted to retire with full benefits, even though he entered fraudulent time and attendance records for another employee. This cost the taxpayers nearly $500,000 dollars.”
Yoho’s legislation mimics a portion of a recent reform plan put forth by the Heritage Foundation. It contained a number of proposals aimed at making cuts to federal workers’ benefits, one of which was to extend employees’ probationary periods from one to three years and taking some of the burden of proof away from the agency. For details, see Worst Case Scenario: Proposed Cuts to Federal Pay and Benefits.
Strengthening Whistleblower Protections
Another bill introduced last week falls on the other end of the spectrum from Yoho’s bill. Introduced by Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), it would strengthen the whistleblower protections for FBI employees who report waste, fraud, and abuse.
The FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (H.R. 5790) would do the following:
- Protect whistleblowers who make disclosures within their chain of command
- Facilitate the identification of retaliation against whistleblowers
- Give the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General sole authority to investigate claims of retaliation
“Whistleblowers play an indispensable role in rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse within federal agencies,” said Chaffetz. “As the only federal law enforcement employees exempt from the Whistleblower Protection Act, FBI whistleblowers need a process they can count on to protect them. They shouldn’t have to worry about losing their jobs for telling the truth. The existing process simply doesn’t work.”