The pending departure of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, could bring a change of direction for that key panel, depending in part on when it happens.
Chaffetz originally announced only that he has decided not to run for re-election next year, creating initial expectations that he would remain in office through the end of 2018. However, that was followed by indications that he might leave earlier, possibly within months. There are various scenarios for who might succeed him.
Many of the issues that Chaffetz has been pursuing in the panel’s role as the main overseer of the federal workforce reflect positions of the Republican majority. These include, for example, the idea of eliminating the defined benefit portion of the FERS system for those hired in the future and replacing it with a less-valuable enhancement to the TSP. However, Chaffetz has not actively pushed that idea. A new leader might move more aggressively.
Chaffetz also has been an advocate for stronger action against poor performers and misconduct in the workplace, although he has favored a more nuanced approach, focusing on specific behaviors such as sexual harassment, rather than wide-scale rollbacks of employee rights. Much of the push for major changes has originated with the Veterans Affairs Committee, not his committee. A new leader of the oversight panel similarly might be more aggressive.
Chaffetz has moved proposals targeting “official time” by federal employees who perform certain union duties on agency time, although those bills require only a closer accounting of the practice–not, as some Republicans have proposed, to repeal it.
Chaffetz also has put substantial effort into postal reform, an issue that is generally a low priority in Congress and that could get less attention from a new leader. He recently moved through the committee, on a bipartisan vote, a bill drops many of the prior ideas that proved to be roadblocks–such as cutting back on mail delivery days and closing facilities–while freeing up USPS to pursue new revenue. It also would carve out a separate health program within the FEHB for postal employees and retirees, while requiring postal retirees to enroll in Medicare Part B when eligible.