Following is the section of a report by the House Armed Services Committee on provisions of the DoD authorization bill affecting civilian employees at the government’s largest employer of federal workers.
ITEMS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
Appointment of Recently Retired Members of the Armed Forces to Civil Service Positions
The committee is aware of continued workforce challenges at the military depots. As the military modernizes, it has become increasingly difficult to compete with industry for the skilled technicians needed to maintain modern weapon systems. The committee notes that section 1108 of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116–283) established a 3-year waiver of the ‘‘180-Day Rule’’ to permit the appointment of recently retired service members to positions at the GS–13 level and below at organic industrial base facilities. The committee looks forward to receiving information on the Department of Defense’s use of this authority and remains interested in exploring options to enable the hiring of the talent needed at our military depots while preserving competitive and merit-based hiring principles.
Civilian Personnel in the Office of the Secretary of Defense
The committee notes that civilian oversight and control of the Armed Forces is essential to ensure accountability, readiness, and the deployment of the Armed Forces in the national interest. A strong civilian workforce in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), particularly in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (OUSDP), is essential to maintain this principle of civilian control of the military. However, hiring freezes and attrition in OUSDP have led to a manpower reduction of almost 27 percent over the last 11 years. This has resulted in an inappropriate reliance on contractors and undermined OUSDP’s ability to carry out robust civilian control and oversight of the Armed Forces. The committee encourages the Department of Defense to undertake an assessment of the civilian billets in OUSDP and consider increasing the size of the OUSDP civilian workforce to better reflect mission needs and reduce reliance on contracted personnel.
Further, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the House Committee on Armed Services not later than January 31, 2022, that includes the following: (1) the number of military and civilian personnel assigned to or employed by each OSD component in each of the previous 10 fiscal years; (2) the number of contractor personnel supporting each OSD component, including contractor personnel performing ‘‘inherently governmental functions,’’ ‘‘closely associated with inherently governmental functions,’’ ‘‘critical functions’’ (as defined in sections 129a and 2463 of title 10, United States Code), as well as the number of staff augmentation contractors supporting each component in each of the previous 10 fiscal years; (3) the share of civilian OSD personnel allocated to OUSDP in each of the previous 10 fiscal years; and (4) an assessment of whether the number of civilian billets has kept pace with changes in OUSDP’s mission over time and whether an increase to the personnel cap established by section 143 of title 10, United States Code, is necessary to ensure sufficient civilian staffing in OUSDP and enable corrective action for any inappropriate contracting.
Prevention and Response Efforts in the National Nuclear Security Administration Nuclear Security Forces regarding Sexual Assault
The committee commends the work of the Comptroller General of the United States in reviewing the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) policies, programs, and responses to preventing sexual assault in NNSA’s security forces and its recent report (GAO–21–307). The committee further commends the Secretary of Energy’s commitment to implementing the Comptroller General’s recommendations in this regard. Ensuring that all Federal employees and contractors of the NNSA are able to serve the nuclear enterprise without fear of harassment is a national security issue, in addition to one of workplace rights. Therefore, the committee directs the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services not later than January 15, 2022, on implementing the Comptroller General report’s recommendations. The briefing should include: (1) a plan to fully implement the report’s recommendations; (2) progress toward implementing the report’s recommendations; (3) options available to the Department of Energy to penalize contractors for not upholding their obligations regarding sexual assault; and (4) a plan to conduct an independent review of the NNSA’s progress on implementing the Government Accountability Office recommendations.
Technical and Digital Talent
The committee recognizes the technical and digital talent deficit within the Department of Defense. In order to attract the necessary technical and digital talent to serve within the military or at the Department, the Government must understand the public’s perception and knowledge of technical and digital jobs available within the Department. Therefore, the committee directs the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to provide a report to the House Committee on Armed Services not later than January 15, 2022, regarding: (1) the awareness and opinions of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) job opportunities within the Department and military held by young professionals, defined as individuals under the age of 35, employed full- or part-time in the technology industry or pursuing a degree in a STEM field; (2) the work incentives and pay structures used by the technology industry, including publicly- or privately-held companies of any size with a focus on delivering technology products or services, compared with Government incentives and structures; (3) the willingness of young professionals, defined as adults under the age of 35, employed full- or -part- in the technology industry or pursuing a degree in a STEM field, to serve part-time in the military or government, or rotate between the private sector and Government; (4) barriers that prevent defined as adults under the age of 35, employed full- or -part- in the technology industry or pursuing a degree in a STEM field, from working for the Department or serve within the military; (5) the approximate proportion of individuals, under the age of 35, working within the STEM fields that have previously worked for the Department or served in the military; and (6) any information available regarding why individuals, under the age of 35, choose to leave Department or military service STEM careers for those in the private sector.
Section 1101—One-Year Extension of Authority to Waive Annual Limitation on Premium Pay and Aggregate Limitation on Pay for Federal Civilian Employees Working Overseas This section would amend section 1101 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110–417) by extending premium pay for Federal civilian employees working overseas until the end of 2022.
Section 1102—One-Year Extension of Temporary Authority to Grant Allowances, Benefits, and Gratuities to Civilian Personnel on Official Duty in a Combat Zone This section would amend section 1106 of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116–283) by extending the temporary authority granting allowances, benefits, and gratuities to civilian personnel on official duty in a combat zone by 1 year.
Section 1103—DARPA Personnel Management Authority to Attract Science and Engineering Experts This section would amend section 1599h(b) of title 10, United States Code, by adding the ability for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to pay for travel, transportation, and relocation expenses and services when hiring up to 15 individuals in any fiscal year.
Section 1104—Civilian Personnel Management This section would amend section 129 of title 10, United States Code, to strengthen the prohibition against managing civilian personnel according to a constraint or limitation on man-years, end strength, or full-time equivalent positions. This section would also prohibit the use of term or temporary hiring authorities for enduring functions.
Section 1105—Comptroller General Review of Naval Audit Service Operations This section would prohibit changes to the size or function of the Naval Audit Service until the Comptroller General of the United States completes a report on the operations of the Naval Audit Service.
Section 1106—Implementation of GAO Recommendations on Tracking, Response, and Training for Civilian Employees of the Department of Defense regarding Sexual Harassment and Assault This section would require the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to address the recommendations contained in the Comptroller General of the United States report entitled ‘‘Sexual Harassment and Assault: Guidance Needed to Ensure Consistent Tracking, Response, and Training for Department of Defense Civilians.’’ Section 1107—Guidelines for Reductions in Civilian Positions This section would amend section 1597 of title 10, United States Code, to require that, in implementing any reduction in force of civilian positions in the Department of Defense, the determination of employees to be separated shall be made primarily on the basis of seniority and veterans preference.
Section 1108—Repeal of 2-Year Probationary Period This section would repeal the 2-year probationary period for Department of Defense civilians provided in section 1599e of title 10, United States Code.
Section 1109—Amendment to Diversity and Inclusion Reporting This section would amend section 113 of title 10, United States Code, to require that the Department of Defense establish relevant metrics, collect and report on diversity statistics, and report on the status of diversity and inclusion efforts among the civilian workforce.
Section 1110—Including Active Duty in the Armed Forces in Meeting Service Requirement for Federal Employee Family and Medical Leave This section would establish Active Duty service in the Armed Forces as having met the service requirements for eligibility toward Federal Employee Family and Medical Leave.
Section 1111—Treatment of Hours Worked under a Qualified Trade-of-Time Arrangement This section would amend section 5542 of title 5, United States Code, to exclude hours worked as part of any trade-of-time arrangement from the calculation of overtime pay for Federal firefighters.
Section 1112—Modification of Temporary Authority to Appoint Retired Members of the Armed Forces to Positions in the Department of Defense This section would amend section 1108(b) of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116–283) to provide that the temporary authority to appoint retired members of the Armed Forces to civilian or test facility.
Section 1113—Increase in Allowance Based on Duty at Remote Worksites This section would direct the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to conduct an assessment of the remote site pay allowance.
Section 1114—Limiting the Number of Local Wage Areas Defined within a Pay Locality This section would amend section 5343 of title 5, United States Code, to prohibit the Office of Personnel Management from including more than one local wage area within a General Schedule pay locality in order to align Federal Wage System areas with General Schedule locality pay areas.