House Committee Approves New Federal Firing Bill

 

House Committee Approves New Federal Firing Bill

Rep. Phill Roe, R-Tenn., wants to make it easier to fire VA employees who aren't performing.
Rep. Phill Roe, R-Tenn., wants to make it easier to fire VA employees who aren’t performing. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

 

A House committee approved legislation to hasten the disciplinary process at the Veterans Affairs Department, despite significant pushback from Democrats who said the measure unfairly targeted rank-and-file employees.

The markup represented the latest effort from Republicans to increase accountability at VA. They’ve tried to expedite firings and suspensions at the department since an initial reform effort in 2014 ran into legal trouble. Democrats insisted they believe in the need to rid VA of problem employees, but said the Republican plan would not properly address the root of the issue.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., who authored the VA Accountability First Act and chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, kicked off the markup addressing the criticisms he saw coming. The measure was not an “attack on workers’ rights,” but instead an effort to grant VA Secretary David Shulkin’s request to dismiss employees when he “comes across the very few who are bad.” Roe said he did not buy the argument that the bill would negatively impact recruiting and retention, as bad employees hurt the morale of the rest of the workforce. Noting a common refrain from detractors of firing reform, Roe said the measure would not hurt the large number of veterans who work at the department.

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White House Floats Federal Employee Pay Reform, Privatization in Name of Innovation

 

White House Floats Federal Employee Pay Reform, Privatization in Name of Innovation

President Trump speaks to airline executives on Thursday.
President Trump speaks to airline executives on Thursday. Evan Vucci/AP

The White House this week promised to “innovate and update government,” and has already started rolling out reform ideas in the areas of federal pay and moving current government functions to the private sector.

The changes are part of an effort to bring a newfound focus on spending taxpayer dollars efficiently, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday. The administration, he said, is reviewing “all aspects of government.” Spicer said further announcements are forthcoming on the reforms President Trump will implement.

One area ripe for change: federal employees’ compensation.

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Senate Overseer Promises Reforms to Federal Pay, Performance Management and Discipline

Senate Overseer Promises Reforms to Federal Pay, Performance Management and Discipline

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., is aiming to draft comprehensive civil service reforms.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., is aiming to draft comprehensive civil service reforms. J Pat Carter / AP

Senators on both sides of the aisle praised federal employees during a hearing Thursday, agreeing President Trump’s hiring freeze is an inefficient way to govern and promising to find bipartisan solutions to improve the civil service.

The Senate will push for changes to hiring, training, compensation, performance management, and discipline and separation, according to Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s panel on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. Lankford vowed to hear a “wide variety of viewpoints” in drafting “comprehensive reforms,” saying the civil service was not a partisan issue.

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