Legislation has been reintroduced in both the House and Senate this week that would make it easier to remove underperforming federal employees.
The Modern Employment Reform, Improvement and Transformation (MERIT) Act is being reintroduced in the House (H.R. 3348) by Congressman Berry Loudermilk (R-GA) and in the Senate (S. 1898) by Senator David Perdue (R-GA).
Collectively, both bills have 21 co-sponsors as of the time of this writing.
The lawmakers said that the MERIT Act would do the following:
- Streamline the process and shorten the amount of time required to remove underperforming employees.
- Permit agencies to remove a senior executive for performance reasons, rather than merely demote them.
- Limit retirement benefits of employees who are removed from their position due to a felony conviction related to their official duties.
- Authorize agencies to recoup bonuses and awards when performance or conduct issues are discovered.
- Extend the probationary period for competitive appointments and promotions from one year to two years so that there is adequate time to evaluate a new employee.
- Curb the ability to use intermediaries to overrule or undermine Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) precedent.
- Uphold critical whistleblower protections.
“Government employees should be held to the same standards as private sector employees, yet it is nearly impossible to fire bureaucrats for failing to do their jobs,” said Senator Perdue.
“Right now, it can take more than a year to fire or replace a civil service employee, even for poor performance or misconduct. With a $22 trillion debt crisis, we cannot afford to hold onto bureaucrats who aren’t doing their jobs. Since President Trump took office, more than 4,300 bad actors have been fired, demoted, or suspended at the VA. It’s time to expand those efforts and address problems across the entire federal government.”
Congressman Loudermilk added, “Working for the United States federal government is an honor and privilege, and most federal employees cherish this opportunity and desire to serve the American people. Unfortunately, many underperforming federal employees feel entitled to their positions and treat them as their right. The solution to this issue is the MERIT Act. I thank my friend and colleague, Senator Perdue, for leading the charge on this important reform.”
It was last introduced in 2018 in both the House and Senate but ultimately failed to advance.