Federal agencies that need to thin their executive ranks because of budget or program cuts have been blocked, at least temporarily, by a RIF-without-tears proposal before the House.
The reduction in force blunting language is in the Republican version of the reconciliation bill okayed in the House Friday. A tiny but important paragraph guarantees any Senior Executive Service member RIFfed after June 1 of this year another $50.000-pluis SES job somewhere in government.
About 6,700 of the 8,600 authorized SES jobs were filled as of the end of March, most of them (6,400) by people with career status. The Office of Personnel Management has drafted tough new RIF regulations for executives. They would deny the supergraders guaranteed fallback to Grade 15 or another SES slot if they were canned for economy reasons. Those regulations are in limbo between the OPM and the White House. Agencies that had hoped to run small-scale RIFs of top management have had to put layoff plans on hold until they learn the rules.
Last Friday the House rejected a Democratic plan that would guarantee other SES jobs for RIFted executives. The Republican version before the House did not contain any such job guarantees. But Virginia Republicans Frank Wolf and Stan Parris, who between them represent about halt the government's SES population, persuaded House GOP leaders to stick with the job-guarantee language in the budget bill that finally passed.
If enacted into law, the Wolf-Parris plan would require agencies to find other SES jobs for supergraders hit by RIFs. In the case of agencies that are targeted to go out of business such as the Community Services Administration, which has 17 SESers), all of them would have to be placed in some other federal agency at comparable SES rank.
Jerry Shaw, president of the Senior Executive Association, is lobbying senators hoping that one of them will stick a similar SES-protection clause in the Senate's budget package. Reagan administration officials who believe that SES members ought to take their chances during upcoming RIFs are hoping that the Senate will ignore the House language, and scrap it when the two budget bills are submitted to a Senate-House conference.