America’s economic history is a long and complex tale. It is marked by longstanding challenges to the country’s vast and varied workforce and U.S. workers’ hard-fought employment protections secured over time.
Back in June, the Office of Special Counsel claimed that White House advisor Kellyanne Conway had violated the Hatch Act. They recommended she should be removed from her post. But six months later, Conway is still working for the White House. It seems unlikely she will face censure anytime soon.
Annual reviews are commonplace in any job, but those who work in the federal sector should note that even if the review does not directly impact their pay it will have an impact on their position. A recent piece in the Federal Times notes the review could still effect consideration for promotions or other positions outside your current agency.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to change how it manages federal workers.
As of March 1, the Merit Systems Protection Board no longer has any members. The three-member board has been without a two-member quorum since January 2017, when one of two remaining board members' term expired. The other remaining member's term expired March 1 after having been extended for a year.
In late August, President Trump announced his plan to freeze the pay of federal civilian employees. Now, in the midst of the partial government shutdown, he has finalized that plan. On Dec. 28, he issued an executive order formalizing the 2019 pay freeze. Federal workers had been slated to receive a nominal 1.9 percent increase in 2019.
In July 2017, the Office of Special Counsel called on all federal agencies to disallow unpaid union official leave when its purpose was for an employee to engage in "partisan political activity." It claimed that allowing leave for that purpose violates the Hatch Act, which limits federal employees' participation in political campaign activities.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that the Office of Special Counsel's backlog of whistleblower and prohibited personnel practices cases almost doubled between 2011 and 2016, even though the OSC has been actively working to reduce it. The GAO notes that the OSC increased the number of employees reviewing the cases and established a unit focusing on hybrid cases involving both a whistleblower disclosure and alleged retaliation. Nevertheless, the approximately 66-percent increase in cases filed since 2011 was enough to overcome those efforts and cause the backlog to increase.
President Trump's 2019 budget proposal included a pay freeze for federal workers during the federal fiscal year and slow the pace of step increases. It also documented the administration's intention to rely on "pay for performance" to determine federal workers' salaries rather than the current tenure-based step increase system. At a recent House Appropriations Committee hearing, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney defended the proposed changes.
"Currently, executive branch agencies are unable to investigate and process personnel security clearances in a timely manner," says the Government Accountability Office, which has added the federal security clearance process to its High Risk List. The list was created by the nonpartisan watchdog agency in 1990 in an effort to emphasize areas in serious need of reform or improvement to avoid waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.