Fedweek

The House is set to start writing later this week the annual DoD authorization bill, which sets personnel policies for the government’s largest department and that also in many years sets policies applying across all agencies.

This year’s version could have less impact than most, however. Unlike in recent past years, the Pentagon has not asked for authority to conduct another round of base closings and consolidations. Also the bill will not have to revisit the difference between the department’s authority to pay buyout incentives of up to $40,000 versus the $25,000 maximum applying elsewhere; last year’s defense bill extended through 2021 the higher amount for DoD, which otherwise would have expired this September. However, a move could be made to make the higher number apply government-wide, as the administration has proposed.

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The bill also commonly continues several special recruitment authorities for certain high-demand occupations and special benefits provisions for employees assigned to dangerous areas overseas.

One proposal that could have a substantial impact, although not for several years, is a proposal by the committee Republican leadership to shrink what is called the “fourth estate”—defense components other than the military services. That plan would consolidate many functions common across those components, such as procurement and personnel services, potentially leading to the eventual loss of thousands of civilian jobs, mainly at headquarters levels.