Sep 25, 2015

DoD Floats Radical Changes to Personnel Policy

At an August DoD Labor-Mgmt Roundtable meeting, NAGE was handed a 90-page report detailing a set of comprehensive, sweeping changes to the DoD civilian workforce structure. The report was commissioned by the Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson and created by a small group of hand-picked specialists.  Unions were given 2 weeks to respond to the proposals, which were labeled “Pre-decisional.” 

NAGE National President sent a strongly worded letter to Carson criticizing both the proposals themselves and the methods by which the unions were involved. NAGE stated its concerns over FoF publicly at a September meeting of the National Council on Federal Labor-Mgmt Relations to OPM Director Cobert and senior DoD staff. The following week, NAGE reiterated its concern at a meeting with Air Force’s Dir. Of Civilian Force Mgmt Debra Warner. Director Warner agreed with the unions’ attitude, calling some of the reforms “radical.”

The United Defense Workers’ Coalition (UDWC) convened legislative and legal committees to assess FoF’s viability, both of which NAGE joined. The legislative committee will be meeting on September 25. NAGE will be attending a special meeting of the DoD Roundtable on October 2 at the Pentagon, where Acting Undersecretary Carson will be in attendance to address our concern. Similar due process limitations on defense civilian employees proposed in FoF are also listed as provisions in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, although it is not likely that these provisions will make it through markup.

►Tell Undersecretary Carson that you won't allow radical changes to DoD civilian employment.

FoF Proposal Details

Overall Issues

  • Significantly reduces workers’ rights by moving civilians into Title 10, doubling probationary periods making all employees at-will for 2 years.
  • Makes it harder for veterans to be hired into DoD civilian positions by weakening veterans’ preference policies.
  • Proposed reforms offer little accountability/reporting requirements to Congress on the effects of the changes
  •  Apparent attempt to remove DoD from the GS system entirely, OPM hiring authority (USAJobs), and veteran’s preference. A scary first step towards gov’t-wide GS elimination.
  • Very little benefit for WG and low-grade GS workers, most proposals geared towards GS-12+ and SES.

Civilian Reforms

  • Title 5 à Title 10. Backbone of all other proposals; Transition all Title 5 non-bargaining unit employees to Title 10 (~30% of DoD workforce)
    • Impact: Prevents DoD civilians from having a union; suggests DoD eventually will try and move all Title 5 bargaining unit employees to Title 10; more military control over civilians; doubles probationary period from 1 to 2 years.
  • Increase pay flexibility. Establish alternatives to the GS system; Provide PSAs increased flexibility to compensate/promote; establish a dual-track for leaders to pursue managerial or technical specialties; use market-based compensation system for high-skilled STEM(+medical).
  •  Paid parental leave. Establish paid parental leave for civilian DoD employees; 18 weeks for birth mother, 12 weeks for partner (transferrable); Phased return policy allows parents to work part time up to 1 year after birth (e.g. work 50% of time and get paid 50%, work 75% get paid 75%). Impact: The report only details implementation strategies for Title 5 BUEs, indicating that Title 10 and the Title 5àTitle 10 employees would not be covered by this provision. This suggests it is being implemented only to placate unions.
  • Compete with academia. Designates a Chief Recruitment Officer; creates a tiered expert hiring system; create a public-private talent exchange by amending the Intergovernmental Personnel Act to allow for cost sharing; expand paid sabbatical to GS-12 and higher for up to 12 months over 10 years.
  • Hold low performers accountable. Expedited removals/demotions; create a centralized legal/HR office focused on labor relations, perf. mgmt, divestment; hold supervisors accountable for employee performance. (Unions are not mentioned at all in this section of the report)
    • Sec. Defense granted power to immediately demote/suspend w/o pay. 
    • Within 30 days of suspension but before removal, the employee is entitled to a written statement of charges.
    • The employee then has 7 days to answer charges orally/in writing/furnish evidence.
    • Employee may request an SES be appointed to conduct a formal investigation within 15 business days of the suspension.
    • All probationary periods will increase from 1 to 2 years.
    • Sec. of Defense must review case, offer written decision w/ specific reasons.
    • All PIPs will be documented, remain part of employees’ personnel records.
    • Supervisor assessments will be qualitative reviews (not based on # of demotions/removals) by the rest of a workforce on a manager’s ability to hold employees accountable.
    • Creates a new bureaucracy for handling personnel (OPEA – DHRA) outside of labor involvement. OPEA would assist supervisors in disciplining employees, expeditiously firing employees, protect DoD from legal action.
  • Expand collegiate recruitment. Allow DoD to hire directly through Title 10; expand current academic recruitment programs; ROTC-style program for DoD civilian employment; Offer more internships.
  • Increase employee mobility. Implement a civilian Joint Duty Assignment (JDA) program modeled after Intelligence community for GS-13+; remove arbitrary barriers to mobility between DoD components.
  • Focus on recruiting Millennials. Establish DoD Millennial Ambassador Corps (e.g. a diverse group of twenty somethings already employed in DoD who will evangelize DoD employment opportunities); Launch a call to service outreach campaign, PR, Mktg, Ads, etc.
  • Reshape VSIP and RIF. Expand supervisor VSIP discretion; Increase VSIP cap from $25k to $40k or 25% base salary; Reprioritize RIF to emphasize performance over other metrics.

Joint Military-Civilian

  • Increase digital innovation. Create a digital services team housed in an innovation lab in Silicon Valley known as Defense Digital Services to recruit top talent from private sector and rapidly deliver new tools/practices that are reusable, cut costs, and improve user experience.
  • Establish a formal lean in circle. Promote the career and leadership potential of women by creating formal groups that will ID and dismantle extant barriers to women’s career development.
  • Create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Create team charged with advocacy, coordination, and capacity for building innovation; Have team link up innovators self-organized throughout DoD as well as those outside DoD; establish entrepreneurial role models; reward innovation; promote a more flexible work environment.
  • Employ big data to inform personnel decisions. Create structure for new office of people analytics (OPA) under DMDC that will research, offer senior-level advice, and support for enterprise-level talent mgmt.


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