Issue Briefs

Following is a section of the Biden administration’s budget proposal recapping steps taken so far regarding federal personnel and management policies and describing plans under way.


Empowering, Rebuilding, and Protecting the Federal Workforce

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The Administration is committed to respecting and partnering with career civil servants who form the backbone of the Federal Government. That is why during his first month in office, the President restored collective bargaining rights and worker protections for Federal employees. The President eliminated Schedule F, which threatened the foundations of the civil service, and made clear that the Administration will protect scientists and other career civil servants from political interference. The President also signed an Executive Order to ensure that the Federal Government interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Budget builds on these efforts to empower and protect the Federal workforce by:

Supporting Career Civil Servants as the Backbone of the Federal Workforce. To help departments and agencies recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce, the Budget ensures more Federal employees are eligible for a $15 per hour wage, and provides funding for a pay increase averaging 2.7 percent across the Federal civilian workforce, in parity with the military pay increase. The President also took steps on his first day in office to protect the health and safety of Federal employees and contractors during the COVID-19 pandemic, including enforcing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s science-based guidelines and directing agencies to finalize and implement workplace health and safety plans. The President also made clear that he encourages union organizing and collective bargaining by revoking Executive Orders 13836, 13837, and 13839 that made it harder for Federal workers to unionize and bargain. The President’s Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce also directs agencies to bargain over additional subjects of bargaining, so that workers have a greater voice in their working conditions.

Achieving Better Hiring Outcomes. The Budget supports agency efforts to expand and enhance recruitment and hiring of top talent, and to deploy more effective qualifying assessments to im-prove hiring outcomes. Specifically, agencies would be required to revitalize their internship programs to begin to reverse the decline in the percentage of the workforce under 30, create and fund agency talent teams, and contribute funding to a new office that would support centralized Government-wide hiring actions that improve hiring outcomes for critical positions. Further, the President’s Memorandum on Revitalizing America’s Foreign Policy and National Security Workforce, Institutions, and Partnerships ordered a series of actions agencies must take to ensure that the national security workforce reflects and draws on the richness and diversity of the Nation it represents.

Modernizing the Personnel Vetting System. The Administration is leading efforts to reform how the Executive Branch conducts background checks for its workforce through the Security Clearance, Suitability, and Credentialing Performance Accountability Council (PAC). The PAC is spearheading several transformative re¬forms through the Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative that will introduce continuous vetting, reduce the time required to conduct background checks for new hires, and improve the mobility of the work¬force, all while ensuring the Nation’s security.

Promoting Public Trust in the Federal Government

As the President has said, “[w]e have to prove to the American people that their [G]overnment can deliver for them…” The Administration is making important progress in promoting trust in Government, and the Budget advances these efforts.

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Recommitting to Good Government. As part of the Administration’s commitment to good government, Federal agencies are working with external stakeholders and their own workforces to develop goals and track progress to improve the delivery of Government services in key priority areas. As the President’s Management Agenda takes shape and agency goals are established and pursued, the public will be able to follow progress on Performance.gov, which will be updated quarterly. By being clear about the Administration’s goals, showing the public plans to get there, and being transparent about results, the Administration will continue building trust with the American public.

Ensuring Effective Implementation of COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds and Stewardship of Taxpayer Resources. The Administration will administer COVID-19 pandemic relief funding—including funding provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the American Rescue Plan)—with maximum accountability and transparency and a fo¬cus on achieving results. This requires designing programs and service delivery models that achieve equitable results while promoting transparency and supporting long-term outcomes that benefit the American people. These goals can be achieved while minimizing burden to agencies and recipients through sound financial management, a focus on program integrity, and accurate and timely reporting on data about the use of taxpayer funds.

Fostering Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Decision-Making. The President has made clear that it is the policy of this Administration to make decisions guided by the best available science and data. On January 27, 2021, when signing a Presidential Memorandum charging agencies to advance scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking, the President committed that his Administration would “protect our world-class scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely and directly to me, the Vice President, and the American people.” Evidence-based policy-making and program evaluation are critical in addressing systemic inequities and injustices and maintaining the public’s trust. The Administration’s commitment to evidence-based policy-making and program evaluation is reflected in the prioritization and design of the Budget’s historic investments in addressing cli¬mate change, environmental justice, health security, and pandemic preparedness and will be equally central to implementing these initiatives. Agencies’ Learning Agendas and Annual Evaluation Plans should reflect their plans to build evidence in these and other priority areas.

Delivering Government Services Effectively and Efficiently

Improving Customer Experience. The Federal Government administers a wide array of programs on behalf of the American people, but implementation efforts often fail to adopt a human, customer-focused mindset—preventing these programs from reaching all those they are intended to benefit and serve. The Administration is implementing a comprehensive approach to improving the access, equity, and overall delivery of Federal services, which includes improving customer experience management. The Budget supports the Nation’s highest impact service providers across a variety of agencies to deliver on their annual Customer Experience Action Plans. This includes, for example: increasing the use of remote inspection capabilities to enable families to send the Federal Emergency Management Agency digital video and images of disaster property damage for verification and validation; making it possible for individuals to request a call back, rather than waiting on the phone, for more Internal Revenue Service functions; collect¬ing customer feedback on interactions with the Transportation Security Administration from passengers that experience secondary screen¬ing; and adapting the design of new “journey to discharge” approaches at the Veterans Health Administration for patient information to reduce preventable adverse events within three weeks of discharge.

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Delivering Better Services through Design and Technology. Too often, outdated tools, systems, and practices make interacting with the Federal Government cumbersome and frustrating. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare and exacerbated the Government’s technology and service delivery challenges in a time of immediate need. Recognizing this, the Administration requested and received $200 million through the American Rescue Plan for the United States Digital Service (USDS) for a multiyear investment in the USDS mission to use design and technology to deliver better services to the American people. USDS quickly deployed teams of seasoned operational engineers, service designers, product managers, and procurement experts to bring best practices and new approaches to these technology challenges, ensure access and equity are integrated into products and processes, and help agencies modernize their systems for long-term stability. USDS is integrally engaged on American Rescue Plan projects and Administration priorities for COVID-19 pandemic vaccines and testing, economic rescue and recovery, environmental justice, and immigration reform.

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