In response to President Biden’s cancellation of several Trump administration executive orders on the federal workforce, OPM has told agencies to discontinue any work toward creating a “Schedule F” category and to prepare to renegotiate any existing contract provisions that reflect the positions those orders told them to take in bargaining.
The Schedule F order, issued last fall, had told agencies to create lists of competitive service positions involved with making or carrying out policies or that involved confidential advice to senior political officials. OPM was to examine them to potentially convert them to a new excepted service category in which those employees would become subject to removal without civil service protections and the positions could be filled non-competitively.
Reportedly, OMB and OPM itself had prepared such lists before the presidential transition; the status of other agencies is not clear, nor is how many employees potentially could have been affected. Estimates ranged as high as 100,000 or more.
“Agency actions to identify and establish Schedule F positions are to cease immediately. Agencies are to refrain from submitting to OPM any Schedule F list of positions already identified and should handle any materials related to Schedule F pursuant to statutes and regulations governing federal records and any agency-specific policies governing materials related to revoked policies,” new guidance says.
The guidance also addresses a set of three orders from 2018, one focused on general bargaining policies, a second on official time and a third on disciplinary policies (see related story) that Biden also has revoked. The first of those had set positions for agencies to take in bargaining procedures and ground rules and had told them not to bargain in areas where negotiations are allowed but not required. The second told them to limit the amounts and uses of official time that they could agree to in negotiations.
The guidance says that agencies “must withdraw any collective bargaining proposals in on-going collective bargaining which are intended to implement” those provisions; for contracts already finalized, agencies are to “engage impacted unions, as soon as practicable, to suspend, revise or rescind” those provisions.
“In carrying out this task, agencies should take a hard look at the degree to which, if any, [the Trump order] influenced bargaining-table strategy and decision making,” it says, adding that the Biden order “neither requires nor prohibits affected agencies from reopening” contracts on other matters not related to subjects covered by the Trump order.