House panel votes to repeal DHS personnel overhaul

The House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday approved legislation with language to repeal controversial personnel reforms at the Homeland Security Department.

The bill (H.R. 1684) would authorize $40 billion for DHS for fiscal 2008 and includes an amendment that would unravel the department's proposed changes to employee appeal rights and performance management. The amendment, offered by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, was approved by a 17-13 vote.

The personnel system and its regulations "effectively gut employee due process rights and put in serious jeopardy the agency's ability to retain a workforce capable of accomplishing its critical missions," Lee said.

The legislative development comes just weeks after DHS announced its intentions to move ahead with certain portions of the personnel overhaul -- those dealing with adverse personnel actions and appeals of adverse actions, as well as those covering performance management. With the announcement of the new plans, DHS also gave the system a new name -- the Human Capital Operational Plan.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley had described the new plan as "sheer folly," and demanded that DHS bargain with the union prior to implementing any portion of the personnel system. But DHS spokesman Larry Orluskie countered that the continued pursuit of the system would move in accordance with union agreements.

The authorization measure also seeks to protect DHS employees' collective bargaining rights. DHS regulations to establish a new bargaining system were overturned last summer when an appeals court upheld a ruling that portions illegally curtailed collective bargaining rights by giving management the ability to cancel negotiated agreements after the fact.

"This legislation would put the final, and overdue, nail in the coffin of a personnel system that would bring serious harm to DHS employees," Kelley said, "and make even worse the serious morale problems that are widespread in DHS."

The committee also included language that would grant law enforcement officer status to Customs and Border Protection officers, a provision that NTEU and the American Federation of Government Employees applauded.

"AFGE believes that H.R. 1684 will greatly strengthen our nation's overall homeland security by recognizing the contribution of the men and women on the front lines and providing the resources necessary to ensure that they are the best trained, best equipped border protection force in the world today," said AFGE President John Gage.

DHS would not comment on the bill, as a matter of policy against commenting on pending legislation.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.