The chairman of the key House panel overseeing the federal workforce has said he will pursue a range of changes to federal employee policies in the current Congress, although some would affect only those hired in the future. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that further efforts to restrict appeal rights are on his agenda, with the main focus, at least at the outset, on certain forms of misconduct such as sexual harassment, according to reports from media members present at a briefing.
He also suggested a renewed effort to shorten and limit the appeals process for senior executives government-wide, modeled after changes enacted in 2014 applying only to execs at the VA–authorities that the Obama administration used in only a few cases before dropping them in the face of a legal challenge. He also mentioned ending the defined benefit retirement annuity for those newly hired after an unspecified future date, potentially coupled with larger government contributions toward their TSP accounts.
Chaffetz further said he supports the imposition of a general hiring freeze, with agencies potentially allowed to fill one of every three new vacancies and barred from adding contractors; and that the government may need to boost pay in certain high-demand occupations, such as those related to cybersecurity.
Meanwhile, a bill offered late last year whose reintroduction is expected soon would strip most appeal rights of employees newly hired a year after enactment; shorten and limit the appeal process for current employees; deny pay raises to employees rated below level 4 of a five-level rating system; and end “official time,” which is on-the-clock time that federal employees who serve as union officials can spend on certain union business, among other changes.