'There needs to be a reckoning': Republicans introduce bill to make feds at-will employees

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said: "Former President Trump is absolutely right about this: there needs to be a reckoning, and bureaucrats actually need to be fireable."

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said: "Former President Trump is absolutely right about this: there needs to be a reckoning, and bureaucrats actually need to be fireable." Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The legislation, along with recent talk of a renewed effort to implement Schedule F, makes clear that a “major assault” on the federal civil service is coming, regardless of who the next Republican presidential nominee will be.

A group of five conservative Republicans has introduced legislation to make the federal government an at-will employer, eviscerating civil service protections, chilling whistleblower activity and abolishing the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Reps. Chip Roy, R-Texas, Mary Miller, R-Ill., Troy Nehls, R-Texas, Bob Good, R-Va., and Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., on Thursday introduced the Public Service Reform Act (H.R. 8550), which would make federal workers at-will employees and strip them of many of the avenues currently at their disposal to appeal adverse personnel actions. It would abolish the MSPB, sending all complaints of whistleblower retaliation to the Office of Special Counsel, albeit only for 14 days, after which all appeals would go directly to federal appellate courts.

“Most career civil servants do their jobs faithfully day in and day out, but there are still too many federal employees actively undermining America through their blatant contempt for our nation, the rule of law, and the American people,” Roy said in a statement. “That is because policies meant to insulate the government from politics have instead created a dense web of red tape that rewards laziness and noncompliance and enables hostile partisans to entrench themselves within federal agencies. Former President Trump is absolutely right about this: there needs to be a reckoning, and bureaucrats actually need to be fireable.”

Although the bill stands nearly zero chance of passing in the current Congress, experts say that it, combined with recent news that conservative political operatives with Trump’s endorsement have devised plans to revive Schedule F, a proposal to strip the civil service protections from tens of thousands of federal employees in “policy-related” positions, indicates the civil service system as we have known it for the last 150 years will be under attack under the next Republican administration.

“This is obviously a huge and major change, an effort to gear up a major assault on the federal employment system,” said Don Kettl, professor emeritus and former dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. “This is being helped and aided unquestionably by a set of groups like America First Works, Heritage Action for America, FreedomWorks and Citizens for Renewing America, who have endorsed the bill . . . Much of the debate has largely been about if Trump is reelected, but what this makes clear is the efforts to try to change the civil service aren’t just Trump necessarily, and if Republicans take control of Congress following the midterms, this may very well go from idea to specific action.”

Under the bill, the only way a federal employee would be able to fight their termination aside from through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—in instances of discrimination—or OSC and the judiciary if they are whistleblowers is by appealing to the very manager who has proposed firing them. Only an agency head has the power to overrule the official who has proposed firing someone.

Roy said in a statement that his bill preserves protections against discrimination and whistleblower retaliation. But in the case of discrimination, EEOC would be required to toss all of its policies regarding complaints that originate from federal agencies and apply the same standards it uses in private sector cases.

“My bill would make all federal bureaucrats at-will employees—just like private sector workers—and claw back the inordinate protections some federal employees grossly abuse while helping legitimate whistleblowers and victims of discrimination get the justice they deserve,” Roy said.

However, the bill’s purported whistleblower protections suggest just the opposite, Kettl said. OSC only has a 14-day window in which to make nonbinding recommendations on whether an adverse personnel action constitutes retaliation. Another provision requires the deduction of 25% of a federal employee’s retirement annuity if a court finds their appeal to be “in bad faith or frivolous.”

“This dramatically limits the amount of whistleblowing activity that’s possible,” he said. “Going to court is extremely expensive and time consuming. In addition, it creates a disincentive to blow the whistle because your retirement benefits could be reduced. When you put it together, it’s a very big deal. It would dramatically change the incentives for individuals who are being dismissed because of whistleblowing.”

This article was published first on GovExec, a FederalSoup partner site. 

NEXT STORY: USPS to slash 50,000 positions in coming years

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.