As we noted in a recent article (Congressional Movement on Federal Benefits), Congress has been considering a number of changes in the federal government’s human resources program that would benefit a number of readers. As often happens, these changes are in a bill that, on the surface, has little to do with the changes that will impact many federal employees.
In this case, the Defense authorization bill contains provisions on various human resources issues that will impact much of the federal workforce.
The Senate has approved the conference report by a vote of 68-29 bill and it now goes to the president for signature. The massive $680 billion dollar bill also include a provision that expands the federal hate-crimes law to cover offenses based on sexual orientation. President Obama is not expected to veto the Defense authorization bill.
The bill will do several things that will impact various people in the federal workforce in different ways:
- Repeals the authority for the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) and requires the transition of NSPS employees to previously existing civilian personnel systems, while providing DOD with new personnel flexibilities – in the areas of hiring and assigning personnel and appraising employee performance. NSPS will end in 2012 and approximately 205,000 covered employees will go back to their previous pay systems. NSPS employees will be guaranteed the full pay hikes given to General Schedule employees.
- Phases in the allowance of unused sick leave to be applied toward length of service for purposes of computing a retirement annuity under the Federal Employee Retirement System. (See FERS, Sick Leave and Your Future Retirement) This means that until December 31, 2013, employees would receive a credit of 50 percent for unused sick leave. After this date, they would receive full credit for their unused leave.
- Provides uniformed military with a pay raise of 3.4 percent, a one-half percent more than what the Pentagon requested as well as the annual inflation rate.
- Authorizes federal agencies to reemploy retired federal employees under limited, part-time employment, without offset of an employees’ annuity against their salary.
- Phases out cost of living allowances for federal employees working in Hawaii, Alaska, and other non-foreign U.S. territories, and would phase in locality comparability pay in place of the allowances. (See FERS Sick Leave Credit and Locality Pay for Some Federal Employees Passes in House)
- Allows former federal employees under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) who withdrew their contributions to the retirement trust fund, and waiving retirement credit for those years of service, to redeposit their earlier contributions, plus interest, upon reemployment with the federal government.
- Allows employees under the Civil Service Retirement System to take their highest salary, including their deemed full-time salary for years of part-time work, to be used in computing benefits derived from a pre-1986 salary.
- Suspends the use of public-private competitions for federal jobs under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76.
- Prohibits the release of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States but allows prisoners to be transferred for trial 45 days after the administration submits an assessment to Congress of the risks involved in doing so.