Cummings, House Democrats Raise Concerns About NDAA Provisions That Negatively Affect Federal Employees

Jul 15, 2015
Press Release

Cummings, House Democrats Raise Concerns About NDAA Provisions That Negatively Affect Federal Employees


Washington, D.C.(July 15, 2015)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led 11 House Democrats in a letter urging the National Defense Authorization Act conferees to strike provisions that would negatively affect Department of Defense civilian employees by undermining veterans’ preference, merit systems principles, and due process rights.

The Members requested the following sections be taken out of the final conference agreement:

  • Section 1101:  This provision would extend probationary periods for civilian employees and senior executives from one year to two years, and it would allow military departments to extend probationary periods indefinitely.
  • Section 1102:  This provision would delay step increases for employees within their grades whose work quality is unacceptable, which is unnecessary because current law already allows agencies to deny or delay step increases in such cases.
  • Section 1103:  This provision would make performance the only factor agencies must consider when conducting Reductions in Force, while current law requires agencies to consider tenure, veterans’ status, length of service, and performance ratings.

“We must stop these latest Republican attacks on the core principles that serve as the foundation of our federal civil service – merit, veterans’ preference, and due process,” said Ranking Member Cummings.  “These provisions are especially troubling because their application to Defense Department civilian employees would establish a bad precedent for the rest of the federal workforce.”

“I am proud to represent thousands of civilian defense employees who work in the Fifth District at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Webster Field and Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center,” said Congressman Steny Hoyer. “These are dedicated public servants, who support our men and women in uniform, and they do not deserve to have their veterans’ status, merit systems principles, and due process rights stripped away by this legislation. I urge my colleagues to remove these provisions from the National Defense Authorization Act that could impact these employees, who serve our military and nation with distinction.”

“With such a large portion of our federal workforce due to retire in the next few years, we need to do everything possible to make civil service as attractive as possible for recent graduates,” said Congressman Donald S. Beyer Jr. “In order to ensure that our federal workforce is innovative and equipped for a 21st century America, we must strike provisions that delay pay increases, keep recent hires in employment limbo, and undermine merit-based compensation.”

“The provisions we seek to remove from the FY16 NDAA would hurt civilian DOD employees by weakening due process protections, undermining veterans preferences and harming the merit system which has worked well for decades,” said Congressman William Lacy Clay. “Our goal should be to recruit and retain the best federal employees and treat them fairly on the job.  These provisions would make that more difficult.”

“I have serious concerns with the controversial civil service provisions that are included in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016,” said Congressman Gerry Connolly, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Federal workforce. “Together, these three sections risk creating negative, unintended consequences that adversely impact veterans’ preference, undermine reasonable due process safeguards, and ultimately, degrade long-standing merit principles that ended the corrupt spoils system many decades ago.”     

“Civilian Department of Defense employees serve our country every day and we must make sure that they are treated fairly,” said Congressman John K. Delaney. “I am opposed to any measures that undermine their due process rights.”

“Already, young workers are spurning federal employment considering high-profile cuts to wages and employment and retirement benefits of federal workers,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.  “What civil servants always depended upon had been statutory protections that ensure decisions are merit-based.  Our DoD employees are among our most valuable and irreplaceable.  The least they are entitled to are their due process rights, veterans’ preference, and civil service protections.”

“The relentless partisan attack on federal employees – including U.S. veterans – is continuing through new efforts to undermine simple and common sense workplace protections through the National Defense Authorization Act conference report,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. “I am strongly opposed to measures that would, for example, make it easier for mangers to retaliate against whistleblowers and damage our ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest workers.”

“These egregious sections are harmful to federal workers and have no place in a responsible NDAA,” said Congressman Chris Van Hollen. “The critical mission of the Department of Defense should not be risked by undermining key principles and rights for its employees.”

The letter was also signed by Reps. Stephen Lynch, John Sarbanes, and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott.

Click here to read the full letter. 

114th Congress