The House passed a bill that would change the way agencies discipline and remove federal employees and members of the Senior Executive Service. One provision would put all SES members under the same, expedited disciplinary process that senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department had until the Justice Department challenged its constitutionality.
As deadlines come and go, OPM answered some frequently asked questions about an executive order, signed in 2015, that mandated reforms to the Senior Executive Service.
Roughly 85 percent of current Senior Executive Service members are eligible to retire within the next 10 years. And about half can retire within the next president’s first term in office. But as the administration looks to agency career leaders to steer the upcoming presidential transition, 55 percent of GS-14s and GS-15s say they’re not interested in joining the SES.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald says Congress needs to support the agency through reform legislation and full funding if lawmakers want to see the transformation so many of them are calling for.
Two new memos from the Office of Personnel Management provide guidance for agencies to give “strong preference” to certain candidates for national security senior executive jobs. The memos also outline the roles and responsibilities of agencies and employees participating in an interagency rotation.
A recent decision from the Justice Department is prompting the VA to stop using the authority it has under current legislation to fire senior executives more quickly. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee said the news comes after an inquiry over whether the VA planned to make any policy changes after the DOJ decision, which ultimately ruled that a key provision in the VA Choice Act is unconstitutional.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wants information from Office of Personnel Management acting Director Beth Cobert about SES members getting multiple performance bonuses in the same fiscal year.
The congressionally-appointed VA Commission on Care suggested a major overhaul to the Veterans Health Administration. According to the commission’s draft report, due to Congress by the end of the month, VHA employees should have their own personnel system.
The Veterans Affairs Department officially fired three more senior leaders at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, the hospital where reports of wait time manipulation first started two years ago. Two of the three VA executives can appeal their removals to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
The Justice Department says a specific provision in the Veterans Choice Act, which ultimately renders that the disciplinary decision from administration MSPB judge is final for certain senior executives, violates a clause in the Constitution. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says Justice will continue to uphold vast majority of the Choice Act.
VA Secretary Bob McDonald said his department is different enough from other federal agencies that a separate personnel system is appropriate for VA senior executives. McDonald also said the department is working on new performance standards to measure veterans’ satisfaction with VA medical facilities and the time it takes to receive an appointment.
At nearly 400 pages, the Veterans First Act, which the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee introduced last week, covers everything from veterans homelessness to more flexible work hours for VA doctors and nurses. But VA’s senior executives are still the main target of the legislation.
Beth Cobert, the acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, wants more people to know about the hard, important work federal employees do every day.
The Veterans First Act is a bipartisan omnibus bill that addresses problems within the Veterans Affairs Department. Everything from accountability to whistleblower protections is included in the package, along with major changes to the health care program for veterans, educational benefits and help for survivors.