shutterstock ID 360126452

OPM follows through on plans to make it easier to discipline feds

The Trump administration is following through on plans to make it easier to fire and penalize federal employees.

Under a new regulatory scheme proposed by the Office of Personnel Management published Sept. 17, agencies would have new requirements when it comes to advancing employees out of probationary status and new authority when it comes to disciplining, demoting and terminating the employment of feds accused of misconduct or persistent poor performance.

The proposed rules implement aspects of a May 2018 executive order designed to streamline removal and disciplinary procedures in the federal workplace. Some aspects of this order and two other Trump executive orders are still under a judicial injunction arising from a long-running union lawsuit, which is still under appeal.

According to the introductory text in the proposed rule, OPM "has and will continue to comply fully with the injunction, and will not issue regulations implementing the invalidated parts of the Executive Order as long as the judicial injunction is in place."

The new rules would end the practice of clearing employee records of misconduct complaints or adverse action as a condition of a settlement -- known as "clean record" agreements. The rules also task federal managers with making affirmative decisions about the fitness of a federal employee before the end of a probationary period of employment -- typically one year although sometimes more in positions where extensive training is required.

Under the plan OPM is also encouraging agencies to end the practice of using "tables of penalties" to forewarn employees of the disciplinary consequences of prohibited conduct. Such a punishment schedule can, OPM states, "foster a 'by-the-numbers' approach in which managers may hide behind a chart imposed from above rather than take direct responsibility for their workplace."

OPM is also seeking to limit performance plans -- periods of time given to employees to improve their job performance -- to 30 days.

The American Federation of Government Employees came out against the proposed rules.

"These proposed regulations encourage management by fear and intimidation and assume that managers are incapable of working with employees to help them improve their performance," AFGE National President J. David Cox said in a statement. "If these rules go into effect, they will greenlight arbitrary and discriminatory discipline against employees who will have little recourse to challenge poor or politically corrupt management."

Comments on the proposed regulations are due by Oct. 17.

Reader comments

Thu, Oct 3, 2019

Someone said good supervisors motivate. Good employees don't need motivation.

Thu, Sep 19, 2019

In the big outfit in Bethesda, the management are the ones who need to be terminated immediately. Many are bigots and have issues when it comes to gender and age. They cheat, lie and steal resources, pretend they are working off site when they are on vacation so they do not take annual leave. They take supposed business trips using first class flights, writing each manager up for bonuses and hiring their relatives and friends. They also ask other senior hiring officials to tailor a job description for their friends so no other high performing employee has a chance for promotion. They also backstab and lie in staff meetings about totally fabricated issues that really never exist. However this situation will continue until someone has the authority to clean house.

Wed, Sep 18, 2019

It has been very difficult to let a low performing employee go. Ever since employees went to a union performance dropped 30 to 40% and employees retaliate against management who try and discipline those that won't abide by government policies and procedures. There are a lot of slackers within the Federal work force and some of them are in management.

Wed, Sep 18, 2019 Sam usa

Any dummy can fire people. If takes someone with above average skill and knowledge to motivate and encourage the people who they supervise to do their jobs well. If any manager is constantly disciplining and firing the workers under him one after another ____ it shows that the Supervisor is NOT performing well in guiding his workers and in creating a dedicated work force.

Wed, Sep 18, 2019

This is a guarantee that discriminatory practices against employees and poor managers will prevail in the federal workplace. I was a federal employee for 20+ years. I had one idiot manager for 5 of those years. Thank g-d that I had wonderful managers the rest of the time.

Show All Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above.

2021 Digital Almanac

Stay Connected

Latest Forum Posts

Ask the Expert

Have a question regarding your federal employee benefits or retirement?

Submit a question