Issue Briefs

Following is a congressional summary of provisions affecting civilian employees of DoD and government-wide in the annual DoD authorization bill.

Prohibition on per diem allowance reductions based on the duration of temporary duty assignment or civilian travel (sec. 603)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 605) that would halt implementation of the 2014 Department of Defense per diem policy, direct the Secretary of Defense to issue a report on options to reduce travel costs, and require notification of any subsequent changes to the per diem policies following the report.

The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 631) that would require the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives by no later than 120 days after enactment of this Act providing a cost-benefit analysis of the long-term per diem policy rate change that became effective on November 1, 2014, consistent with the principles and requirements of Office of Management and Budget Circular A-94. The Senate provision would further provide that should the Secretary fail to deliver this analysis within 120 days after enactment of this Act, or if the analysis demonstrates that the costs of this policy change outweigh the benefits, and would continue to outweigh the benefits, then the policy would revert to the policy in effect as of October 31, 2014.

The Senate amendment contained another similar provision (sec. 632) that would amend section 474(d)(3) of title 37, United States Code, to prohibit the Department of Defense from reducing per diem rates based on the duration of a temporary duty assignment or civilian travel.

The Senate recedes on section 631 of the Senate amendment.

The House recedes on section 605 of the House bill and section 632 of the Senate amendment. The conference agreement includes Section 632 of the Senate amendment.

Direct hire authority for the Department of Defense for certain competitive service positions (sec. 1101)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1101) that would amend chapter 99 of title 5, United States Code, by adding a new section that would provide the Secretary of Defense authority to expedite hiring of civilian personnel into positions involving maintenance, depot maintenance, cybersecurity, acquisition, and science, technology, and engineering. This authority would expire on September 30, 2025.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

Modification of direct hire authority for the Department of Defense for post-secondary students and recent graduates (sec. 1102)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1102) that would amend chapter 99 of title 5, United States Code, by adding a new section that would authorize the Secretary of Defense to recruit and hire recent graduates into competitive positions in the Department of Defense through September 30, 2025. This section would also repeal the more limited authority provided by section 1106 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law 114-328).

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with an amendment that would amend section 1106 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law 114-328) by increasing the limiting percentage under that section to 25 percent, and by extending the sunset contained in that section to September 30, 2025.

The conferees note that this authority is intended to expedite the hiring process and make the Department of Defense a competitive employer. In that light, the conferees expect the Department to ensure field activities are given sufficient flexibility under the cap to expedite job offers to qualified applicants.

Extension of overtime rate authority for Department of the Navy employees performing work aboard or dockside in support of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier forward deployed in Japan (sec. 1103)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1103) that would amend section 5542 of title 5, United States Code, to extend until September 30, 2021, the authority of the Secretary of the Navy to pay overtime rates to civilian employees performing temporary duty in Japan in support of the forward deployed nuclear aircraft carrier.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

One-year extension and expansion of authority to waive annual limitation on premium pay and aggregate limitation on pay for Federal civilian employees working overseas (sec. 1104)

The House bill contained an provision (sec. 1104) that would amend section 1101 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417) to extend the authority to waive the annual limitation on premium pay and aggregate limitation on pay for Federal civilian employees working overseas until September 30, 2019.

The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 1125) that would amend section 1101 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417), as most recently amended by section 1137 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (Public Law 115-91), to extend through 2019 the authority of heads of executive agencies to waive limitation on the aggregate of basic and premium pay of employees who perform work in an overseas location that is in the area of responsibility of the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), or a location that was formerly in CENTCOM, but has been moved to an area of responsibility for the Commander, U.S. Africa Command, in support of a military operation or an operation in response to a declared emergency.

The Senate recedes with a clarifying amendment.

Extension of authority to conduct telework travel expenses test programs (sec. 1105)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1106) that would amend section 5711 of title 5, United States Code, to extend the authority of the Administrator of the General Services Administration to conduct a test telework program until December 31, 2020.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

Personnel demonstration projects (sec. 1106)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1107) that would amend section 4703 of title 5, United States Code, to deem that demonstration projects conducted under this authority lasting more than 10 years shall not count against the limit of 10 such projects ongoing at any time.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

Expanded flexibility in selecting candidates from referral lists (sec. 1107)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1108) that would amend subchapter I of chapter 33 of title 5, United States Code, to provide Federal agencies flexibility in setting the minimum number of candidates who must be considered on a referral list for each vacancy by amending sections 3317, 3318, and 3319 of such title.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

Expedited hiring authority for college graduates and post secondary students (sec. 1108)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1110) that would amend subchapter I of chapter 31 of title 5, United States Code, to provide expedited hiring authority for college graduates.

The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 1122) that would modify the recruitment and hiring process to provide additional flexibility in hiring college graduates and students. This authority would allow Federal agencies to determine recruitment sources and processes for the solicitation of applications in order to compete for top talent. The Director of the Office of Personnel Management would have the authority to cap the number of hires made under this authority.

The House recedes.

Inapplicability of certification of executive qualifications by qualification review boards of Office of Personnel Management for initial appointments to Senior Executive Service positions in Department of Defense (sec. 1109)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1101) that would temporarily exempt the Department of Defense from the requirement that Office of Personnel Management qualification review boards certify candidates for senior executive service positions within the Department. The provision would sunset 2- years after enactment.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Engagement with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and minority-serving institutions for the purposes of technical workforce enhancement (sec. 1110)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1102) that would create a direct-hire authority at Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories and Major Range and Test Facilities Base facilities for graduates of minority-serving institutions with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes with an amendment that would remove the specific hiring authority and direct the Secretary of Defense to develop and submit a report detailing activities to increase engagement with covered educational institutions.

The conferees note that other existing hiring authorities are applicable to graduates of minority-serving institutions with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Inclusion of Strategic Capabilities Office and Defense Innovation Unit Experimental of the Department of Defense in personnel management authority to attract experts in science and engineering (sec. 1111)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1103) that would extend the existing direct hiring authority codified in section 1599h of title 10, United States Code, to the Strategic Capabilities Office and the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Enhancement of flexible management authorities for science and technology reinvention laboratories of the Department of Defense (sec. 1112)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1104) that would extend and enhance existing direct hiring authorities at the Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories within the Department of Defense.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Inclusion of Office of Secretary of Defense among components of the Department of Defense covered by direct hire authority for financial management experts (sec. 1113)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1105) that would extend the direct hire authority created in section 1110 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law 114-328) for financial management experts to include the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Alcohol testing of civil service mariners of the Military Sealift Command assigned to vessels (sec. 1114)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1121) that would amend chapter 643 of title 10, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of the Navy to prescribe regulations establishing a program to conduct on-duty reasonable suspicion alcohol testing and post-accident alcohol testing of civil service mariners of the Military Sealift Command assigned to vessels. In addition, this provision would amend section 7479 of such title to permit release of alcohol testing results to the Coast Guard.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

One-year extension of temporary authority to grant allowances, benefits, and gratuities to civilian personnel on official duty in a combat zone (sec. 1115)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1124) that would extend by one year the discretionary authority of the head of a federal agency to provide allowances, benefits, and gratuities comparable to those provided to members of the Foreign Service to an agency’s civilian employees on official duty in a combat zone.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS NOT ADOPTED

Appointment of retired members of the Armed Forces to positions in or under the Department of Defense

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1105) that would provide the Secretary of Defense temporary authority to appoint retired members of the Armed Forces to Federal civilian positions within the Department of Defense immediately upon retirement for certain categories of positions. This section would provide this authority to the Secretary for 5 years.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Temporary and term appointments in the competitive service

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1109) that would amend subchapter I of chapter 31 of title 5, United States Code, by adding a new section that would authorize the heads of Federal agencies to hire civilian personnel through temporary and term appointments. This section would also permit an agency head to make noncompetitive hires for up to 18 months to meet a critical need.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Presidential allowance modernization

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1111) that would amend various sections of the Former Presidents Act of 1958 (Public Law 85-745) to modify various annuities, allowances, and other benefits provided to former presidents of the United States.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Reporting requirement

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1112) that would amend section 7131 of title 5, United States Code, by requiring the Office of Personnel management to submit to Congress an annual report on the amount and purpose of official time granted to employees in each federal agency.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Increase in maximum amount of voluntary separation incentive pay authorized for civilian employees

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1123) that would amend sections 3523 and 9902 of title 5, United States Code, to increase the maximum amount of separation pay authorized for Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay (VSIP) from the current ceiling of $25,000 to $40,000, and includes an annual adjustment in accordance with the Consumer Price Index. The maximum payable amount has not been adjusted since VSIP was first authorized by the Chief Human Capital Officers Act of 2002 (title XIII of Public Law 107-296).

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.