Several civilian personnel policy changes for civilian employees at DoD remain on track to take effect despite the White House’s veto of the annual defense authorization bill (HR-1735). Those provisions would make performance the first determinant of RIF retention standing rather than the last, extend the standard probationary period for newly hired employees to two years, and exclude time an employee’s performance is judged unacceptable from counting toward the next within grade increase. The veto statement and remarks by administration officials, like earlier statements threatening the veto, made no mention of those provisions. It instead focused on use of a special account not subject to sequestration spending limits. Congress had been expected to attempt to override the veto but fall short, before rewriting the bill to address the funding mechanism. However, inclusion of more money for defense in the broader budgetary agreement, should it pass, could allow legislators to skip straight to a rewrite that could be enacted quickly. While opponents could use the revision of the bill to attempt to knock out those provisions, that silence in effect signals that they are acceptable to the administration. The DoD provisions could set a precedent for eventual application to other agencies, since that department accounts for about a third of federal employees, who would be operating under different rules in those basic personnel policy areas than the rest of the workforce.
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