The Washington Post

Congress acts on federal employee bills

Just before getting out of town for the Fourth of July holiday, both chambers of Congress and a Senate committee approved separate pieces of legislation Friday that would affect federal employees.


The House and Senate passed a transportation bill that includes a provision to allow phased retirement for federal employees. Employees would be able to work part-time after retirement, with their salaries and annuities pro-rated.

Proponents on both sides of the partisan divide expect the measure to save tax money while providing a way for experienced workers to transfer their skills and workplace knowledge to younger staff.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee gave final approval to bills that would update the Hatch Act, provide agencies with greater power to prevent government contractors from engaging in human trafficking and make it easier for veterans to obtain federal licenses.

The Hatch Act measure would provide a greater range of penalties for federal employees who violate the act. Termination generally is the penalty. The legislation would allow reprimands, demotions and suspensions.

The bill also would ease prohibitions on state and local government employees, whose positions receive federal funding, who run for partisan elective office.

Among other provisions, the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012 would require companies with federal contracts worth at least $1 million to certify that they have procedures to prevent human trafficking. This has been an issue for contractors who supply foreign labor for U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Veterans Skills to Jobs Act would facilitate employment of veterans by allowing agencies to use the training that veterans received in the military to meet the requirements for federal licenses in certain cases.

The committee gave preliminary approval to the bills Wednesday, but the final vote was delayed until the panel had a quorum on Friday.

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.


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