Government affairs

Legislative Updates

House Oversight Committee holds hearing to discuss plan for 115th Congress

On Jan. 31, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing to review the proposed “Authorization and Oversight Plan for the 115th Congress.” The document lays out the committee’s priorities for 2017 and included sections on the U.S. Postal Service and the federal workforce.

Most notably for letter carriers, the document proposes that the committee continue pursuing the enactment of postal reform legislation and to build on bills that were approved in the 114th Congress.

The plan also suggests that the committee continue examining items such as the number of packages being diverted from the U.S. Postal Service to new competitors and whether the agency’s financial systems properly account for delivery costs.

Further, the proposal promises that the committee will:

  • examine actions and plans that USPS is taking to preserve universal service, avoid insolvency, improve financial management and prevent a so-called “taxpayer bailout;”
  • examine the security of international mail coming into the U.S. through USPS; and
  • identify means to improve the security of incoming mail within the framework of the Universal Postal Union treaty governing the international exchange of mail.

Some of the plan’s provisions for the federal workforce included:

  • identifying areas that agency disciplinary guidelines could be improved;
  • reforming (“modernizing”) the civil service system to better serve “the America taxpayer;” and
  • Evaluating whether the General Schedule and occupations families and job series should be conducted to determine whether and how it can be improved and overhauled.

Specifically, the plan promises to “undertake a comprehensive review of the civil service system reform” and “examine other areas for potential improvement, including the federal retirement system, skills gaps, accountability and removal process, labor management, and reform of the Senior Executive Service (SES).”

During the hearing, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) offered an amendment to the plan that called for including in the federal workforce section the following language:

“In addition, the Committee will protect the key foundations of the U.S. civil service: its independence from partisan politics and its professionalism. The Committee will uphold due process and other workplace protections, which insulate civil servants and whistleblowers from partisan disciplinary measures. The Committee will also promote the professionalism of the civil service by ensuring middle-class salaries, pensions and benefits. To be successful, any reform of the Civil Service System must incorporate input from federal employee representatives and management organizations.”

Committee Charman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) urged lawmakers to reject Lynch’s amendment. It ultimately failed.

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