Fedweek

OPM is preparing to revoke several rules ordered in late 2020 under the prior administration, but one that it is keeping in place calls for mandatory discipline for retaliation against whistleblowers, one based on a 2017 law.

Under that law, agencies must take action against management officials who are found — by the agency head or by an outside authority — to be guilty of whistleblower reprisal. For a first offense penalties can range from a suspension of as little as three days to firing; for a second, firing is required. The officials would have 14 days to reply to the proposed action, which will take effect by default if the agency determines that the response does not disprove retaliation.

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The new rules would however remove a prior requirement that an agency should issue the decision on a proposed removal under this subpart within 15 business days of the conclusion of the employee’s opportunity to respond.

Said the new notice: “Although it is good practice for agency deciding officials to resolve proposed removals promptly, some actions present multiple issues, conflicting evidence, or other complications that warrant full and fair consideration over a longer period of time, and careful crafting of the final decision. Accordingly, it is not in the government’s best interests to force decisions to be completed on an arbitrary timetable that may not allow for the deciding official to prepare a thoughtful, well-reasoned decision document.”

Also to be left in place are rules carrying out a provision of a separate law requiring that notices of proposed adverse personnel actions include information on appeal rights.

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