According to an article published in FEDweek, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has instructed agencies on their obligation to report on disciplinary actions they took against their employees in the last fiscal year, the latest in a series of memos on complying with the parts of the Trump administration’s three executive orders on the federal workforce that were unaffected by a court ruling blocking other provisions.”
That means that federal agencies are now required to report all adverse employee personnel actions.
The article also states these actions will be “broken down by type of action, probationary vs. tenured status, whether the agency provided a performance improvement period, how long the agency took to make a final decision in misconduct cases after receiving the employee’s response to the notice of proposed discipline, and the number and key terms of settlement agreements and the outcome of litigation involving adverse actions.”
The OPM memo also said that data will “further facilitate a federal supervisor’s ability to promote civil servant accountability while simultaneously recognizing each employee’s procedural rights and protections.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that federal agencies made 10,249 suspensions, 7,411 removals, and 114 demotions for misconduct in 2016.
Unions and Employees Are Concerned
This new effort is based on Executive Order 13,839, issued by President Trump on May 25, 2018. It was challenged in court. Unions and employees worry it may make it easier to fire, lay off, and take disciplinary actions against federal workers.
According to Federal Times, “The three executive orders gave agencies more freedom in dealing with poorly performing federal employees, significantly cut back on the amount of time employees could spend conducting union duties while on the clock, and called for the renegotiation of union contracts based on an Office of Management and Budget strategy.”
“The additional guidance from the OPM on the implementation of the president’s May 25 executive orders is simply a restatement of the provisions of those orders that were not struck down by a federal judge in August. One thing is abundantly clear, however. Federal agencies have a requirement to bargain in good faith with federal unions. That standard is established in federal law and the National Treasury Employee Union (NTEU) intends to hold agencies to that statutory obligation,” said Tony Reardon, national president of the NTEU.
On the other hand, conservative organization The Heritage Foundation has another point of view. In a recent report Strengthening the Federal Workforce Through Increased Accountability, “Both anecdotal evidence and government studies demonstrate that poor performance and misconduct regularly go unaddressed in the federal workforce. This leads to worse government services at a higher price for the American taxpayer…because managers are often unable to remove poor performers, good civil servants are often asked to pick up the slack for those who are not doing their share and are denied opportunities for advancement.”
What does this new action mean for federal employees?
This higher level of scrutiny will likely lead to more claims about unfair or discriminatory treatment.
Federal Employee Professional Liability Insurance (FEPLI) provides insurance coverage of legal fees and liability costs for federal employees. Coworkers, special interest groups or even members of the public can bring actions or file complaints against a federal government employee.
“All federal employees are at risk of being targeted by potential claims against them. With this new executive order we feel it is more important than ever to have the career protection that professional liability insurance provides,” says Starr Wright USA Vice President, Darrell Weber.
Government Accountability Office
Article sponsored by Starr Wright USA.
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