The Senate version of the annual DoD authorization bill (S-1519) continues several special personnel authorities for DoD, urging that the Pentagon make more use of some of them.
The Armed Services Committee report on the bill for example says that the panel “is disappointed that despite language authorizing direct hiring authorities … the implementation of these policies has yet to take effect in many cases.” It asks for a report on the department’s use of those authorities in various occupations where the department has said it has hiring needs that standard procedures don’t address.
Similarly, the committee said that special hiring authorities for military spouses “have not yet been sufficiently utilized and military family groups have received feedback that spouses still face great difficulty in navigating the federal hiring process in a timely manner and obtaining employment.’ It asks for a report on use of those authorities as well.
Further, the committee said it “remains concerned’ that the military services are not carrying out authority to waive a general DoD policy of paying lower per diem rates to civilian employees on long-term temporary assignments. That language was included as a compromise to a proposal from the House last year to repeal the reduced per diem rate; the House version this year (HR-2810) again seeks a repeal out of concern that the lower rate dissuades employees from volunteering for such assignments.
Meanwhile, the White House has issued a statement objecting to language in the House bill. It said the provision “is unnecessary because DoD has already implemented a policy allowing the services to pay travelers’ actual expenses up to the full per diem rate when the reduced flat rate for meals and incidental expenses is insufficient for the assignment.”