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Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Retirement Claims Wane, a Tweak to Rules for Resigning From Your Job and More

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The Office of Personnel Management on Monday issued a memo tweaking the rules governing how agencies handle employees who resign while under investigation.

In a memo to chief human capital officers, OPM Director Jeff Pon implemented a new provision of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act requiring agencies to make a “permanent notation” on the personnel file of someone who leaves his or her job while an investigation into the employee is ongoing. Such investigations include those done by an inspector general and adverse personnel actions for performance or misconduct.

Pon wrote that the notation should be applied to one’s record only after the person has been given an opportunity to respond to the findings of an investigation. The new procedure does not impact an employee’s ability to appeal the findings of an investigation or adverse action to the Merit Systems Protection Board, and if the employee wins, the agency would remove the notation from his or her record.

The NDAA provision neither provides guidance for implementation nor grants OPM the authority to draft regulations on the subject. Pon suggested that agencies implement the new rules in consultation with legal counsel.

“We have attached a sample document that may be used as a guide for developing documentation to make the permanent notation,” Pon wrote. “We recommend agencies place the document used to make the notation (including any supporting materials) on the permanent side of the employee’s [file].”

OPM released its performance figures for federal employee retirement claims Monday, revealing that although the overall number of pending claims dropped from 18,730 in March to 17,489 last month, the average time needed to complete a request rose on a monthly basis from 49 days in March to 58 days.

The agency’s goal is to maintain a backlog of at most 13,000 pending retirement claims. Although the number of new claims has fallen each of the last two months, as an annual retirement wave subsided, so too did the number requests processed by OPM, falling from 13,262 claims in March to 9,631 last month.

At the Health and Human Services Department, an element of the case of the curious executive salary was closed Tuesday, as an agency spokesperson announced the new rate of pay for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

Redfield now makes $209,700 per year, a salary that is in line with his predecessors. Redfield requested a pay cut following questions from lawmakers about his unusually high compensation rate of $375,000.

Before joining the federal government, Redfield made $757,100 in salary and bonuses as an AIDS researcher at the University of Maryland Medical School, which officials said played a part in granting him a relatively high salary through a law designed to attract top scientists and technical specialists to the public sector.

By comparison, former CDC directors Dr. Julie Gerberding made $207,000 per year; Dr. Thomas Frieden, $209,700; and Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, $193,700.

Erich Wagner is a staff correspondent covering pay, benefits and other federal workforce issues. He joined Government Executive in the spring of 2017 after extensive experience writing about state and local issues in Maryland and Virginia, most recently as editor-in-chief of the Alexandria Times. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

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