On January 12, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform considered and approved several federal workforce bills, including a bill opposed by NTEU to substantially extend probationary periods for new employees.
One of the key measures considered was H.R. 3023, a bill introduced by Rep. Ken Buck (CO) that would extend the current one year probationary period to two years for new employees hired into the competitive service. Additionally, this legislation would have the two year probationary period begin only after any required training for the position, meaning that employees might serve for several years ─ or even indefinitely ─ without actually completing a probationary period depending on how individual agencies interpret the bill’s new definition of “formal” training for various positions.
NTEU has strongly opposed this bill, and views the legislation merely as a way to strip new employees of important due process rights. NTEU worked with Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD) and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI) on two amendments to the bill—both of which were ultimately voted down by the Committee—that would have maintained existing one year probationary periods and instead called for a GAO study on agency use of probationary periods (Cummings amendment) and requiring agencies to document and certify that employees have successfully completed their one year probationary periods (Lawrence amendment). The unamended bill was advanced out of Committee by a party line vote of 20-16.
The Committee also considered a bill introduced earlier the same day by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (UT)─H.R. 4360, the Official Personnel File Enhancement Act, which would require agencies to enter any adverse findings into a departed employee’s official personnel file (for example in cases where employees resign during an ongoing agency or IG investigation). NTEU worked with Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA) on an amendment that was successfully incorporated into the bill that would establish both a notification and appeals process for any affected individuals. H.R. 4360, as amended, was also reported out of Committee.
House floor action on these bills has not yet been scheduled.