Government-wide Federal Employee Provisions in Senate Defense Authorization Bill

Provisions affecting federal workers government-wide included in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2019 will be considered by the Senate next week.

Seal of the United States SenateNext week, the Senate is scheduled to take up the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 5515. The Senate Armed Services Committee version of the bill (S.2987), which will be used as the base text of H.R. 5515, contains some government-wide provisions affecting federal workers.

Section 1123 of the NDAA would increase the amount of Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIPs) from $25,000 to $40,000. NTEU strongly supports this provision. The $25,000 cap was enacted in 1993, and after almost 25 years of no adjustment, federal employees now find the amount too little to provide an incentive to leave government service. As the administration seeks to reorganize the executive branch, NTEU views the VSIPs and Voluntary Early Retirements as keys to proper workforce reshaping, and further supports the provision allowing VSIPs to be adjusted for inflation.

Section 1122, like the House-passed bill, provides direct hiring authority for college graduates and post-secondary students. NTEU opposes this provision due to the elimination of veterans’ preference and the limited notice requirement for internal candidates who could miss out on potential promotional opportunities in their home agencies. NTEU welcomes the next generation to federal service; however, we believe their hiring should be done under the merit system principles, with veterans’ preference and public notice to guard against a career civil service from becoming comprised of only political appointees, and the family and friends of those in leadership positions.

As the Senate begins consideration of which amendments will be accepted or voted on by the chamber, NTEU will continue to work with both House and Senate partners to make them aware of the impact of these government-wide provisions on frontline federal employees.

I will keep you posted on any further proposals impacting federal employees and federal labor organizations as this bill moves forward.

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