Conservative Lawmakers Push for Expedited Firings Across Government

Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., said the faster process would "make people be more proactive” about getting rid of problem employees.  Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., said the faster process would "make people be more proactive” about getting rid of problem employees. Flickr user Gage Skidmore

A group of conservative lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday to expedite the disciplinary process throughout the federal government, saying the measure would boost accountability.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., and cosponsored by Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; Steve King, R-Iowa; and Randy Weber, R-Texas, would limit the time federal employees have to appeal a negative personnel action and restrict the number of appeals they could file to just one. Agencies would suspend employees without pay throughout the appeal process.

Employees would have seven days to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board a firing, suspension or other action. MSPB would then have 45 days to issue a ruling on the appeal. If the board did not act in that timeframe, then the agency’s decision would stand.

» Get the best federal news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

In an interview with Government Executive, Yoho said the shortened procedure would “make people be more proactive.” He said Congress has repeatedly heard from agency heads that it is “virtually impossible to fire anybody.” Leaders at the National Park Service, Secret Service, Veterans Affairs Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Drug Enforcement Administration have all asked lawmakers for greater latitude in removing problem workers.

“It hurts the morale in the agency when they know they have a bad player and they see them getting transferred laterally” rather than fired, Yoho said. The current system has ushered in a culture of “protectionism,” he added.

The congressman said “in the real world,” private sector employees would be fired immediately in cases in which federal workers are merely suspended.

The legislation is similar to a measure that passed the House last year that would apply only to employees at the Veterans Affairs Department. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., with whom Yoho said he worked in drafting his proposal, sponsored that bill. Yoho said he also consulted with the Congressional Research Service.

Due process for most of the federal workforce now requires that agencies notify employees within 30 days of an adverse action (including removal), and provide them with seven days to respond and an opportunity to defend themselves. The average initial MSPB appeal takes about 90 days.

Yoho said he expects certain factions to criticize his bill for removing federal employees’ due process protections, but preemptively combated that argument by saying feds would still have the right to an appeal. An employee who became the victim of a bad manager carrying out a personal vendetta would still be protected, he said.

“We’re not going to take anything from good employees,” Yoho said.

Recent efforts to ease the firing of federal employees, targeting VA’s senior executives, have stalled after the Justice Department decided not to defend attempted reforms in court due to concerns over constitutionality. VA has said it will no longer use the authority Congress granted it in 2014 to quickly remove top managers accused of wrongdoing, sending lawmakers back to the drawing board.

Yoho said he has not consulted with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who has focused on the federal employee discipline issue as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chaffetz has yet to propose legislation aimed directly at the firing process, but did usher through the House a measure to limit -- in most cases -- paid administrative leave for employees under investigation to 14 days. 

(Image via Flickr user Gage Skidmore)

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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