Current and prospective federal employees are sometimes required to undergo a polygraph exam as part of their security clearance applications or renewals. Mostly, the "lie detector test" is required for people seeking a high security clearance within the intelligence community or the Defense Department.
The All Circuit Review Act was signed into law on July 9 after a six-year pilot program. It gives federal employees to appeal Merit Systems Protection Board decisions to any federal appellate court of competent jurisdiction, which means any U.S. court of appeals. In the past, these decisions could only be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.
The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2018 was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 28. The proposal would provide most federal employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. Workers would not be required to use up their sick time or annual leave in order to take parental leave.
The Trump administration has just released a report offering the first details of a major government reorganization. Most of the proposed changes are to the Office of Personnel Management, although there could be significant shifts of programs between a variety of agencies.
In late May, President Trump signed three executive orders that purport to make changes to federal workers' rights. One order limited the length of performance improvement plans (PIPs) to 30 days. The second directed agencies to renegotiate all union contracts and changed the way agencies can operate when negotiations stall, among other proposed changes to federal collective bargaining. The third restricts the use of official time for union activities.
On May 25, President Trump signed three executive orders affecting the federal workforce. One limits how much time workers can spend on probation when under investigation for misconduct, thus encouraging firings. Another called for the OMB to renegotiate all union contracts involving the federal workforce and to post those contracts online. A third order attempts to restrict the use of official time spent on union activities by requiring federal workers to spend at least 75 percent of their time on government work and introducing a cap on each bargaining unit's use of official time overall.
Early last month, we discussed how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made what we hoped was an inadvertent change to a certain benefit for federal employees. Under previous law, workers who relocated for their jobs were allowed to deduct reimbursements for certain moving and travel expenses using the Withholding Tax Allowance and Relocation Income Tax Allowance computation. The TCJA removed those reimbursements from the computation while leaving the employee's home sales' excludable tax status unchanged.
The first full week of May is Public Service Recognition Week, which honors federal, state, county and local government workers nationwide. Thank you for your hard work throughout the year. Many public sector employees find their work satisfying and rewarding, and we hope our readers do, too.
There is an apparently unforeseen consequence of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that affects federal employees who have been reassigned. Under previous law, when federal employees relocated for their jobs they could deduct certain travel and moving expenses. Those deductions seem to have been removed by the new tax law. A coalition of federal employee associations hopes they can be reinstated when the Treasury Department and GSA update policies and regulations to comply with the new law.
U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty (D - Conn.) has apologized for her failure to protect female staffers who claim to have been threatened and harassed by her former chief of staff. She has also abrogated a nondisclosure agreement signed as part of his termination.