House Panel Approves Civil Service Reforms

July 18, 1996

House Panel Approves Civil Service Reforms

The House Government Reform Civil Service Subcommittee Thursday by voice vote approved legislation to reform civil service rules, LEGI-SLATE News Service reported.

The bill would give federal managers more authority to make hiring and firing decisions. It also would give more weight to exceptional performance when federal managers make downsizing decisions.

In addition, the legislation would allow managers to fire "problem employees."

According to a study by the Merit Systems Protection Board, 78 percent of federal managers believe they have supervised problem employees, but only 23 percent of them have attempted to fire such workers.

The legislation also would provide a "soft landing" for federal employees who lose their job because of a reduction in force.

Such employees, as well as workers who take early retirement, could continue their health insurance coverage for up to 18 months after leaving their federal job. Under the legislation, they also could extend their Federal Employees Group Life Insurance by paying full premiums. And up to $10,000 worth of educational and retraining assistance could be spent on each RIF'd employee.

The panel passed one amendment, by subcommittee ranking member James Moran, D-Va., to eliminate the provision which would simplify the employee discrimination appeals process. The bill's provision would have given agencies the authority to use alternative dispute resolution techniques as opposed to formal judicial remedy.

Moran said he would like the provision to be reworked to include options other than just alternative dispute resolution, arguing employees that are sexually harassed would probably be less willing to face their harasser in an informal setting. The amendment passed by voice vote.

Subcommittee chairman John Mica, R-Fla., said he thinks the full committee will mark up the bill Thursday.

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