House Panel Advances Bill Making It Easier to Fire SES Employees

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee advanced a bill this week that would streamline the process for removing members of the Senior Executive Service for misconduct.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee advanced a bill this week that would streamline the process for removing members of the Senior Executive Service for misconduct.

The bill is known as the Senior Executive Service Accountability Act (H.R. 4358) and was introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI).

The legislation also would subject SES employees to many of the same rules as the employees they supervise, extend the probationary period for individuals appointed to the SES from one year to two years, and establishes that members of the SES receive performance requirements in writing before the start of an appraisal period.

The bill mimics one that was introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-VA) to make it easier to remove VA employees.

Like the VA bill, Walberg’s bill would mandate that SES employees being removed or disciplined would be entitled to five days of advance notice of the action. Also, any employee in this situation would not be allowed to be placed on administrative leave or any other category of paid leave during the period during which an appeal, if there is one, is ongoing.

SES employees being disciplined could appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board but would have to do so within seven days of the disciplinary action.

The Senior Executives Association released a statement in opposition to the bill. According to interim SEA president Tim Dirks:

“While there are critical challenges facing the SES and the system is certainly in need of reform, current Congressional efforts are being driven by a handful of isolated cases that have gained media attention. As members scramble to gain political advantage and attach their names to would-be solutions, they fail to address the real issues and in fact create more serious problems by sending a dangerous and discouraging message that those who enter or consider entering the SES will be met with a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ style of justice. As this animosity and rhetoric grows it only serves to encourage talented, able executives to retire and discourages highly qualified candidates from applying for their positions – thereby weakening our government and the nation it serves.”

Rep. Walberg said in a statement:

“Thanks to scandals at agencies like the IRS and VA, the American people increasingly view the federal government as untrustworthy and encroaching on their personal liberties. When senior government officials blatantly abuse their position and the public trust, they must be held accountable. Increasing accountability measures when misconduct occurs will go a long way towards restoring public trust and demonstrating greater stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”

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