The Washington Post

Bill would ease disciplining, firing of federal senior execs

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will consider legislation Thursday that would make it easier for federal agencies to suspend or fire senior executives.

Charles Dharapak/AP - Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), left, and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). (Charles Dharapak/AP)

The Senior Executive Service Accountability Act would double the probation period for top level civil servants from one year to two. Employees on probation may be dismissed more easily than those with greater seniority.

The bill introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee chairman, also would eliminate a current requirement that allows demoted senior executives to keep their higher-level pay.

Also in the legislation is a mandatory leave provision that could be a particular point of debate for Democrats at the committee’s meeting. It says that “an agency may place an employee on mandatory leave for misconduct, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or such cause as would promote the efficiency of the service.”

That provision raises questions for Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the committee. He wants the panel to pause before acting on this point.

“Some of the changes the bill would make to current law make sense, but I am concerned that the mandatory leave provision could raise due process concerns,” he said.  “Given the short time frame for this markup, I urge the committee to fully explore this important issue and get valuable input from stakeholders and experts before the bill moves forward.”

Issa’s office did not provide a comment.

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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