Government affairs

Legislative Updates

OGR holds hearing on President’s Management Agenda following release

Today, the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing titled, “Workforce For The 21st Century: Analyzing the President’s Management Agenda.” Released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) back in March, the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) identifies what it describes as three broad “drivers of transformation” and cross agency priority goals including:

  • IT Modernization
  • Data, accountability, and transparency
  • Workforce for the 21st century

Of particular note to letter carriers and federal employees is the last bullet, which seeks to modify the federal workforce and civil service personnel system, including a redesign of the current pay, pension, and bonus structures. While the report does not suggest any new changes to federal pay and benefits beyond what was already outlined in the White House fiscal year 2019 budget request (click here to read NALC’s report), it directly states that it intends to overhaul the “statutory and regulatory rules that have, over time, created an incomprehensible and unmanageable civil service system.”

“We’re going to demonstrate some new ways in looking at the workforce, not only in recruitment or performance management, or even separation management … but the DNA of how we actually reward people, how our culture works,” said OPM Director Jeff Pon at the PMA’s release. “The whole philosophy of having a job for life is a thing of the past.”

According to the PMA, “aligning and managing the federal workforce of the 21st century means:

  • Instating performance management processes that help agencies retain top employees and efficiently remove those who fail to perform or to uphold the public’s trust;
  • Reducing skills-gaps and eliminating redundant positions;
  • Simplifying the hiring process for managers;
  • Enhancing personnel management IT, including creation of a paperless employee personnel file and digitalizing health benefits and retirement systems administration;
  • Spreading effective practices among human resources specialists;
  • Improving manager satisfaction with the quality of the human resources service provided; and
  • Rebalancing relationships with Federal employee unions to ensure citizens’ interests are kept front and center.

These goals as quoted should concern letter carriers and federal employees as they place civil service protections at risk under the guise of “accountability” and “trust.” Our current civil service protections exist to provide a safeguard against corruption, mismanagement, and political favoritism yet are undermined continuously through both legislation and executive agendas including the PMA.

A “rebalancing” of federal employee unions and government management relationships is also concerning as we have seen more than a few efforts over the past year to dismantle workers’ rights and labor-friendly rulings advanced under the previous administration.

During today’s OGR hearing, much of the discussion focused around both the PMA’s pay freeze proposal and drastic cuts in benefits for current and former federal employees outlined not only in the PMA, but also in Director Pon’s recent letter to Speaker Ryan (read NALC’s take here).

“These proposals are to make sure that we’re making decisions around how we can operate the government in the 21st century,” said Pon. “I do believe that we need to take a look at other proposals, not just pensions, but defined contributions plans so that they become much more portable for people to leave government and come back.”

“In the name of modernization,” the administration’s budget and legislative proposals “are nothing more than attacks on the federal workforce,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Ranking Member of the OGR government operations subcommittee. “OPM (Office of Personnel Management) has proposed: 1) the complete elimination of Federal Employees Retirement System Annuity Supplements; 2) assessing an annuitant’s average salary by averaging an employee’s basic pay over five-year consecutive pay period rather than over a three-year consecutive pay period; 3) increasing contributions to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) by 1 percent per year until the employee is contributing half of the cost; and, 4) a reduction or elimination of the retirement cost-of-living adjustments. And unlike previous changes to the federal employee retirement benefits where changes were applied prospectively, this Administration would like to apply these proposals to both current federal employees and retirees.”

NALC will continue to monitor such efforts and will actively resist any attempts made by this Administration or Congress to target letter carriers, federal employees, or retirees.

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