CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4360, the Official Personnel File Enhancement Act, under suspension of the rules. The resolution was introduced on January 11, 2016 by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote on March 16, 2016.
H.R. 4360 requires that a permanent notation be made in the official personnel record file of a federal employee in the competitive or excepted service who is the subject of a personnel investigation for misconduct or poor performance and who resigns prior to the resolution of such investigation, if an adverse finding is made against such employee at the close of such investigation. The head of the agency employing such employee must make reasonable efforts to notify the employee of the permanent notation.
In addition, the bill requires any federal government appointing authority to review and consider the personnel file of a former federal employee who is a candidate for a position within the competitive or excepted service prior to appointing or reinstating such employee to such a position.
Currently, a federal employee who is under investigation for misconduct or performance issues may resign from employment in the midst of an investigation and may largely escape formal discipline or accountability (including any notation of such issues in his or her official personnel file), should the investigation result in an adverse finding against the separated employee. Individuals who resign in such circumstances could then seek employment with another federal agency, which would not necessarily have knowledge of the adverse finding.
For example, an August 2015 Investigative Report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Commerce concerning the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) detailed how employees are able to take advantage of the current disciplinary process.
According to the Committee, it is important to close loopholes that allow individuals to take advantage of the federal government’s highly structured investigatory and disciplinary process to escape responsibility for their actions. To correct this problem, this bill requires that a notation be made in an employee’s official personnel file if the employee resigns while under investigation and the investigation subsequently results in an adverse finding against the employee. This will help ensure that other agencies will be aware of the finding should the employee apply for federal employment at a later time. Finally, this legislation provides separated employees the opportunity to respond to an investigation’s findings before the agency head makes a final determination on the adverse finding.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that any additional administrative costs to the federal government to implement this legislation would not be significant.
For questions or further information please contact Rob Goad with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1831.