The House Oversight and Reform Committee has approved HR-302, which in effect would prevent a future administration from repeating the Trump administration’s attempt to convert from the competitive service into a new excepted service “Schedule F” positions involved with making or carrying out policies or that involve confidential advice to senior political officials.
Under an executive order issued last fall, agencies were to create lists of such positions and send them to OPM for approval. Those employees would have become subject to removal without civil service protections and the positions could have been filled non-competitively, raising concerns about politicization of those positions.
While some agencies compiled such lists and OPM reportedly approved the conversion of most employees of OMB for example, no actual conversions occurred before the change in administrations. President Biden promptly revoked Trump’s order but sponsors of the bill say a ban in legislation is needed to prevent another such order in the future.
The committee also passed HR-2662, to strengthen authorities of IGs by granting them the authority to subpoena witnesses who are not currently government employees for testimony and requiring them to notify Congress if agencies deny access to requested information. The bill also would add protections for IGs against interference by agency management. A newly introduced Senate bill (S-1794) contains many similar provisions.
The panel also approved HR-2617, to broaden the input into the writing of agency performance plans; specify that the plans must include descriptions of human capital, training, data and evidence, information technology, and skill sets needed for the agency to meet the agency’s performance goals; and require that the plans include descriptions of technology modernization investments, system upgrades, staff technology skills and expertise, stakeholder input and feedback, and other resources and strategies needed to meet the goals.