Issue Briefs

Following is the section of a congressional report on the annual Defense Department budget bill describing the measure’s provisions affecting federal employees, some applying only to that department’s employees and others applying government-wide.


Department of Defense policy on unclassified workspaces and job functions of personnel with pending security clearances (sec.1101)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 243) that would direct the Secretary of Defense to issue guidance not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act to ensure, to the extent practicable, that all Department of Defense facilities have unclassified workspaces for employees who have applied for, but have not yet received, a security clearance.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with an amendment that would require the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a policy to allow certain military and civilian personnel to occupy positions that require a security clearance and to perform unclassified work while they await a final security clearance determination.

Enhancement of public-private talent exchange programs in the Department of Defense (sec. 1102)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 249) that would amend section 1599g of title 10, United States Code, to increase conflict of interest and financial disclosure requirements for participants in the Department of Defense (DOD) public-private talent exchange program. The provision would also require talent exchange program as equivalent to attending resident professional military education. Additionally, the provision would require the establishment of a public-private exchange program billet office. The provision would direct the Secretary of Defense to ensure that public-private talent exchange authority is used to exchange personnel with private sector experience working on artificial intelligence applications.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with an amendment that would amend section 1599g of title 10, United States Code, to clarify that DOD participants in public-private talent exchange programs may not use knowledge related to DOD acquisition or procurement for the benefit of a participating private-sector organization. The provision would also prohibit private-sector participants from performing work that is considered inherently governmental.

The provision would also require the Secretary of Defense to expand the existing talent exchange program to private sector entities that are working on the various DOD modernization priorities. The Secretary of Defense would also be required to implement a system to identify, mitigate, and manage any conflicts of interest that may arise as a result of an individual participating in a public-private talent exchange.

For military personnel participating in a talent exchange program, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretaries of the military departments, would be required to develop practices that consider participation in a talent exchange program when deciding subsequent military assignments.

The conferees urge the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the military departments to take steps to ensure that military participation in public-private talent exchange programs is viewed favorably by promotion boards and other competitive selection boards. Additionally, the conferees urge the DOD public-private talent exchange program to leverage the Air Force Education with Industry Program Office to assist in expanding the DOD talent exchange program.

Lastly, the conferees note that the public-private talent exchange program may be a valuable experience for many different DOD organizations. In particular, the use of these exchange authorities would be valuable to DOD efforts toward building artificial intelligence expertise and capabilities.

Paid parental leave technical corrections (sec. 1103)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1101) that would make technical corrections relating to parental leave for Federal employees.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with a technical amendment.

Authority to provide travel and transportation allowances in connection with transfer ceremonies of certain civilian employees who die overseas (sec. 1104)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1103) that would amend subchapter II of chapter 75 of title 10, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of the military department concerned, the agency head of a Defense Agency or Department of Defense Field Activity, or the Secretary of Homeland Security, to provide round-trip travel and transportation allowances and accompaniment services in connection with ceremonies for the transfer of a Department of Defense or Coast Guard civilian employee who dies while located or serving overseas.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with an amendment that would allow family members of deceased civilian employees of the Coast Guard to be provided with round-trip travel and associated expenses when the Coast Guard is operating as a service of the Navy.

One-year extension of authority to waive annual limitation on premium pay and aggregate limitation on pay for Federal civilian employees working overseas (sec. 1105)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1104) that would amend 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 1105 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (Public Law 116–92), to extend through 2021 the authority of heads of executive agencies to waive the 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, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), or in a location that was formerly in CENTCOM but has been moved to the area of responsibility of the Commander, U.S. Africa Command, in support of a military operation or an operation in response to a declared emergency.

The Senate amendment contained an identical provision (sec. 1112).

The conference agreement includes this provision.

One-year extension of temporary authority to grant allowances, benefits, and gratuities to civilian personnel on official duty in a combat zone (sec. 1106)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1104) that would extend by 1 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 the agency’s civilian employees on official duty in a combat zone.

The Senate amendment contained an identical provision (sec. 1111).

The conference agreement includes this provision.

Civilian faculty at the Defense Security Cooperation University and Institute of Security Governance (sec. 1107)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1107) that would amend section 1595(c) of title 10, United States Code, to add the Defense Security Cooperation University and the Defense Institute for Security Governance to the list of covered institutions for which the Secretary of Defense may employ and compensate civilian faculty as the Secretary considers necessary.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

The conferees note that the Congress knows relatively little about Department of Defense (DOD) policies and practices for administratively determined civilian personnel positions.

Therefore, the conferees direct the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to provide a briefing to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives by March 1, 2021. The briefing shall include the following elements: (1) A description and summary of administratively determined positions in the DOD; (2) A list and explanation of the various policies pertaining to administratively determined positions; (3) An explanation of the significant differences in law and policy between administratively determined positions and other civil service positions within the Department of Defense; and (4) Any other matters the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness considers relevant.

Temporary authority to appoint retired members of the Armed Forces to positions in the Department of Defense (sec. 1108)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1108) that would amend section 3326 of title 5, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of a military department to appoint recently retired servicemembers as civilian employees in the Department of Defense at industrial base facilities, provided the Secretary concerned certifies a lack of qualified applicants.

The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 1108).

The House recedes with an amendment that would provide temporary authority to the Secretary of Defense to appoint retired members of the Armed Forces to positions in the Department of Defense for GS-13 and below positions at a defense industrial base facility, provided the Secretary of the military department concerned certifies a lack of qualified applicants.

Fire fighters alternative work schedule demonstration project for the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Fire and Emergency Services (sec. 1109)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1109) that would require the Commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic to establish and carry out a 5-year fire fighter alternative work schedule demonstration project. The demonstration project would require tours of duty to be scheduled at least 2 weeks in advance and that tours of duty use a regularly recurring pattern of 48-hour shifts followed by 48 or 72 consecutive non-work hours. The provision would also require the Commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic to submit to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives a report on effects of the demonstration project not later than 180 days after the demonstration project is terminated.

The Senate amendment contained an identical provision (sec. 1110A).

The conference agreement includes this provision.

Special rules for certain monthly workers’ compensation payments and other payments for Federal Government personnel under chief of mission authority (sec. 1110)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1110) that would amend section 901 of title 9 of division J of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Public Law 116-94) by authorizing the head of any Federal agency to provide an additional monthly payment to any Federal employee who is injured while detailed to a duty station in the Republic of Cuba, the People’s Republic of China, or another foreign country designated by the Secretary of State. The provision would also prevent the duplication of benefits for individuals receiving compensation under section 19A of the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 (Public Law 81-110).

The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 6091).

The Senate recedes with a technical amendment.

Temporary increase in limitation on accumulation of annual leave for Executive branch employees (sec. 1111)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1111) that would amend section 6304 of title 5, United States Code, to require the service of a Federal employee during a pandemic be deemed an exigency of the public business and to require the restoral of annual leave that is lost as a result of a service during a pandemic.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with an amendment that would authorize the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to allow non- Senior Executive Service and equivalent level employees to increase their accrued leave balance by up to 25 percent over current annual limits for calendar year 2021. The provision would prohibit any accrued leave in excess of an employee’s ordinary annual limit from being included in a lump-sum payment upon retirement or separation.

Telework travel expenses program of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (sec. 1112)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1113) that would amend section 5711 of title 5, United States Code, to authorize permanently a telework travel expenses program within the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

Extension of rate of overtime pay 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. 1113)

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1114) that would amend section 5542 of title 5, United States Code, to extend until September 30, 2026, 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 a similar provision (sec. 1104).

The Senate recedes.

Enhanced pay authority for certain acquisition and technology positions in the Department of Defense (sec. 1114)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1101) that would amend subchapter I of chapter 87 of title 10, United States Code, to permanently authorize an enhanced pay authority for acquisition and technology positions in the Department of Defense. The provision would authorize up to 20 total positions within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the military departments that may have a maximum pay rate set at 150 percent of level 1 of the Executive Schedule.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Enhanced pay authority for certain research and technology positions in the science and technology reinvention laboratories of the Department of Defense (sec. 1115)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1102) that would amend chapter 139 of title 10, United States Code, to permanently authorize an enhanced pay authority for research and technology positions in the Department of Defense. The provision would authorize up to 15 total positions within the military departments that may have a maximum pay rate set at 150 percent of level 1 of the Executive Schedule.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Extension of enhanced appointment and compensation authority for civilian personnel for care and treatment of wounded and injured members of the armed forces (sec. 1116)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1103) that would amend section 1599c(b) of title 10, United States Code, to extend the enhanced appointment and compensation authority for civilian personnel for the care and treatment of wounded and injured members of the Armed Forces through December 31, 2025.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Expansion of direct hire authority for certain Department of Defense personnel to include installation military housing office positions supervising privatized military housing (sec. 1117)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1105) that would amend section 9905 of title 5, United States Code, to authorize direct hire authority for installation military housing office positions responsible for supervising privatized military housing projects.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Extension of sunset of inapplicability of certification of executive qualifications by qualification certification review board of office of personnel management for initial appointments to senior executive service positions in department of defense (sec. 1118)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1106) that would amend section 1109 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (Public Law 115– 232), to extend by 3 years the sunset date of the Department of Defense’s temporary exemption from Office of Personnel Management qualification certification review boards for individuals appointed to senior executive service positions within the Department.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Pilot program on enhanced pay authority for certain high-level management positions in the Department of Defense (sec. 1119)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1107) that would authorize the Department of Defense to establish a pilot program to offer higher compensation than normally allowed by the executive schedule for a limited numbers of positions requiring extremely high levels of experience managing complex organizations.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes with a technical amendment.

Recruitment incentives for placement at remote locations (sec. 1120)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1109) that would amend chapter 81 of title 10, United States Code, to provide a temporary direct hire authority to positions in the competitive service in geographically remote locations and locations with extreme climate conditions. The provision would also provide a relocation incentive to positions covered by the direct hire authority.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes with an amendment that would authorize the Department of Defense to provide a recruitment incentive to individuals appointed to positions at geographically remote locations and locations with extreme climate conditions.

Technical amendments regarding reimbursement of Federal, State, and local income taxes incurred during travel, transportation, and relocation (sec. 1121)

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1113) that would amend section 5724b of title 5, United States Code, to make a technical correction to authority provided by section 1114 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (Public Law 116-92) relative to the reimbursement of Federal, State, and local income tax expenses incurred by Federal civilian employees incident to Government-directed travel, transportation, and relocations.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The House recedes with a technical amendment.

Elijah E. Cummings Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2020 (secs. 1131-1138)

The House bill contained several provisions (sec. 1121- 1128) that would amend various sections of title 5, United States Code, and the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (Public Law 107- 174) to modify reporting, notification, and appeals procedures associated with Federal agency equal opportunity violations.

The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 6047).

The Senate recedes.

LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS NOT ADOPTED

Limitation on authority to exclude employees from chapter 71 of title 5

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1102) that would prohibit the use of funds to exclude the Department of Defense or any agency thereof from collective bargaining rights in fiscal year 2021.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

Limiting the number of local wage areas defined within a pay locality

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1106) that would amend section 5343 of title 5, United States Code, to prohibit the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) from defining more than one Federal Wage System (FWS) local wage area within a General Schedule (GS) pay locality.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.

The conferees note that OPM is responsible for overseeing the implementation and administration of the FWS in consultation with other agencies, appropriate labor organizations, and the advice of the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee (FPRAC). Since 2010, the FPRAC has voted three times to recommend that OPM align FWS wage areas with GS locality pay areas across the country. OPM has not implemented these recommendations. The conferees encourage OPM to address this longstanding issue as soon as possible.

Modification of direct hire authority for certain personnel involved with Department of Defense maintenance activities

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1110) that would amend section 9905 of title 5, United States Code, to provide direct hire authority for positions that perform support functions for depot-level maintenance and repair.

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

The conferees note the Department of Defense already possesses extensive direct hire authority for a variety of civilian personnel positions. Section 9905 of title 5, United States Code, provides general direct hire authority for any position involved with Department maintenance activities and Major Range and Test Facilities Bases. The conferees encourage the Secretary of Defense to utilize fully all available direct hire authority provided by section 9905.

The conferees emphasize that future requests for additional direct hire authority must be justified by objective data that demonstrates consistent difficulty filling certain vacant positions within a reasonable amount of time.

Report by Comptroller General of the United States on diversity and inclusion within the civilian workforce of the Department of Defense

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1110B) that would require the Comptroller General of the United States to provide a report to the Congress on issues related to diversity and inclusion within the Department of Defense (DOD).

The House bill contained no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

The conferees direct the Comptroller General of the United States to provide a report to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the diversity and inclusion of the civilian workforce of the DOD. The report shall include: (1) A description of the demographic composition of the civilian workforce of the DOD; (2) An assessment of any differences in promotion outcomes among demographic groups of the civilian workforce of the Department; (3) An assessment as to whether the Department has identified barriers to increasing diversity in its civilian workforce; and (4) Any other matters the Comptroller General considers appropriate. The conferees further direct that, not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General provide a briefing to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives describing the Comptroller General’s preliminary findings, and submit a final report on a date agreed to at the time of the briefing.

Vacancy of Inspector General positions

The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1115) that would amend the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (5 U.S.C. 3345) to require that when there is a vacancy in an Inspector General position that requires appointment by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, the first assistant to the Inspector General shall perform the functions and duties of the Inspector General temporarily in an acting capacity. If the first assistant is not available to serve, the President would be required to appoint an acting Inspector General from among persons serving in an office of any Inspector General who met particular time in service and pay grade requirements.

The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

The House recedes.


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