The House could vote as soon as this week on the annual DoD authorization bill (HR-1735) that could lay the groundwork for a separate set of RIF procedures to be used at the department during downsizing. The language has been changed from an earlier version, under which an employee’s performance would have been given the top priority in deciding who stays or goes—rather than the lowest priority, under current government-wide RIF policy. The new version requires only a briefing from the Pentagon to Congress by the end of June at which DoD is to evaluate how the current RIF rules affect the department’s “ability to retain high-quality personnel” and whether changes in law are needed. The measure also urges DoD to put in place as soon as possible changes in its performance evaluation and management policies for its employees that were authorized more than five years ago in the law that repealed the old NSPS alternative personnel system there. It further would repeal a policy change that took effect last year at DoD reducing the per diem reimbursement rates for employees on temporary duty assignments longer than 30 days. DoD said that policy was designed to encourage employees to use less expensive extended-stay type lodging but employee organizations have argued it merely shifts costs to the travelers. The measure also denies the Pentagon’s request for another round of base closings and realignments and continues several long-running benefits for employees on certain hazardous or hardship assignments. The Senate started drafting its version of the bill this week.
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