Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee have proposed (HR-8791) a wide-ranging overhaul of DHS, including several provisions affecting personnel policies there.
While there is virtually no chance the measure will move before the current Congress adjourns, the measure in effect lays groundwork for a renewed effort in the new Congress next year.
Key features include restricting the use of acting officials; creating a new associate secretary to oversee all of the department’s law enforcement positions; requiring that its use of force policy be revised to emphasize de-escalation; centralizing oversight of acquisitions; creating an internal forum for identifying and addressing factors that hamper employee morale; boosting employee awards and career advancement programs; and granting TSA screeners the same range of bargaining and other rights applying to federal employees in general.
“While DHS has matured since its establishment in 2003, it still faces considerable management challenges in key areas, such as human capital and acquisitions, which is why it remains on the Government Accountability Office’s High Risk List,” sponsors said in a supporting statement.
“Additionally, the department struggles with low morale and consistently rates among the bottom of the Partnership for Public Service’s annual “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” survey. As a result, many employees leave the agency shortly after being hired, resulting in significant wasted costs,” they said. “GAO has also highlighted workforce shortages as a persistent challenge for DHS’s acquisition programs; a challenge that can negatively affect the department’s ability to deliver critical capabilities on time and on budget.”