The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has held a hearing that may revive prospects for personnel policy reform bills targeting the VA. Several bills that already have passed the House collectively are broadly seen as setting precedent for application to other agencies and other levels of employees. However, the momentum had stalled after the White House threatened to veto a House bill that among other things would restrict VA employees” appeal rights along the lines of restrictions enacted last year applying only to the VA SES. The House passed that bill but not by enough to override a veto, leaving questions about whether Congress would continue to pursue the reforms. Many similar bills are pending in the Senate, including one (S-290) that would require SES members there to rotate to different positions every five years, allow only 10 percent to receive the top-level performance rating, require that complaints about programs under their authority be taken into account in those evaluations, generally bar execs from being on paid administrative leave for more than 14 days a year, and require a reduction of their later annuity if they are convicted of a felony related to their official duties. Another (S-1856) would require immediate suspensions without pay for employees whose performance or misconduct the agency considers to endanger public health or safety, set new standards for assessing whether employees have successfully completed their probationary period, generally limit all employees to 14 days of administrative leave per year, and require that managers” performance evaluations include assessments of what actions they took to address poor performance or misconduct among their subordinates.
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