Update on House Committee Consideration of the FY19 Defense Bill and Federal Employee Personnel Items

The House Armed Services Committee passes the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act with some federal employee personnel provisions.

U.S. Capitol with blood moonThe House Armed Services Committee met yesterday and considered amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2019. Although the vast majority of the bill addresses Department of Defense-specific issues, this measure is used at times to carry government-wide federal personnel provisions.

As reported by the committee, the bill H.R. 5515 includes two provisions that are of concern to NTEU:

  1. Section 1107 of the measure would expand the number of alternative personnel systems, that operate outside of the General Schedule, and
  2. Section 1109 would provide agencies with the ability to hire term and temporary employees for longer periods of time, and in certain cases, without providing public notice for positions.

NTEU is concerned that this language could herald in larger attempts to derail compensation, performance management, and their negotiability, and that the hiring authorities will be used to hire short-term workers, without benefits, at the expense of hiring, full-time, permanent positions. Additionally, there are a variety of outstanding questions about the language and its impact that need to be fully addressed prior to passage and enactment by Congress.

Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) offered an amendment to strike section 1109 of the bill, related to temporary and term employment. Unfortunately, the amendment failed by a vote of 28 to 33 along party lines. No other government-wide federal employee provisions were added or amended during the markup.

Although there was some concern that the administration’s proposed changes to federal employee retirement would be added to the bill, the provisions were not in the base bill and were not added. The committee passed the bill by a vote of 60-1. It now awaits action by the full House, where additional amendments will be offered.

NTEU remains vigilant regarding the administration’s proposals to cut federal employee retirement benefits and compensation, and will continue to work with Congress to ensure that the provisions are not added to the NDAA during floor consideration or in any other bill.

I will keep you updated on this legislation as it moves forward.