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Protecting rights through the RIF rhetoric

The language from the Office of Management and Budget about the future of the federal work force seems to be in keeping with that old song that goes, "Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative."

A read of the memo issued last week by OMB director Mick Mulvaney about the direction the White House wants to take regarding government operations frames the effort in terms that glow. It talks about how the proposed 2018 fiscal year budget fills critical gaps in defense, border security and public safety, spending money "only on worthwhile policies, and in the most efficient, effective manner." And for FY 2019, it says to expect more of the same.

What this means for federal employees is not completely clear. The OMB statement uses words like streamlining and reducing waste, fraud and ending abusive tax dollar spending. It also lets agencies know that the 2019 budget process will "give special consideration" to proposals that reflect bold plans for reform and reorganization aimed at delivering operational efficiencies.

Reductions in force are anticipated, but how they will occur is still to be determined. One thing that workers should know is that protections under the law remain in place. RIF actions are complicated. Agencies don't have free rein to make cuts ignoring due process.

Managers must execute reductions following required procedures. Actions can be grieved in many cases and appeals pursued. These rights remain under the law, but they can only be protected if they are known and the required RIF procedures are understood. Anyone feeling their rights have been violated through RIF action should consult an experienced attorney.

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