Federal Manager's Daily Report

A House Veterans Affairs subcommittee has approved HR-1994, which would effectively apply to the entire VA workforce many of the changes to disciplinary and appeals procedures enacted last year affecting senior executives at the department.

The measure, which could soon be pushed forward for full committee and full House votes, is one of many similar proposals in response to scandals involving patient scheduling and care at the department.

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Like the already enacted provisions affecting the SES there, the bill would allow the VA to impose discipline up to firing without going through the standard processes for building up such a case; give employees only seven days, rather than the usual 30, to file an appeal at MSPB; limit MSPB’s powers to put a disciplinary action on hold while an appeal is pending; make the administrative judge’s decision the last word, with no appeal to the merit board and then to federal court allowed as is standard; and make the agency win an appeal automatically if the administrative judge doesn’t issue a decision within a deadline–45 days, compared with the 21 days applying to VA SESers.

It also would make the standard probationary period 18 months rather than 12, allow the department to extend it further in some cases, and require that supervisors affirm at the end of a probationary period that the employee is fully qualified. There would be some special appeals rights for employees bringing whistleblower retaliation defenses.