H.R. 5037, District of Columbia Courts and Public Defender Service Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments Act

H.R. 5037

District of Columbia Courts and Public Defender Service Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments Act

Sponsor
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton

Date
September 20, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
John Huston

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5037, the District of Columbia Courts and Public Defender Service Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments Act, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5037 was introduced on April 21, 2016, by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which ordered the bill reported on July 12, 2016 by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5037 provides the D.C. courts and the Public Defender Service (PDS) for the District of Columbia with the same authority that federal courts and federal agencies have to offer voluntary separation incentive payments, or buyouts, to their employees.

This bill amends the District of Columbia Code to authorize the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration to establish a voluntary separation incentive payments program for nonjudicial employees of the District courts substantially similar to that for certain federal employees and members of the uniformed services. Payments made to individuals under the program are also limited to the maximum amount available to federal employees and members of the uniformed services.

The District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970 is amended to authorize the District of Columbia Public Defender Service also to establish such a program for the Service’s employees.

Background

Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP) Authority, also known as buyout authority, allows agencies that are downsizing or restructuring to offer employees lump-sum payments as an incentive to voluntarily separate. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) enables agencies to offer VSIP to employees who are in surplus positions or have skills that are no longer needed in the workforce who volunteer to separate by resignation, optional retirement, or by voluntary early retirement. By allowing employees to volunteer to leave the Government, agencies can minimize or avoid involuntary separations through the use of costly and disruptive reductions in force. The Department of Defense has been granted agency-specific VSIP authority and are not required to seek OPM approval for their use of this option.

The fiscal year 2016 omnibus bill already gives D.C. courts this buyout authority—but H.R. 5037 would make this authorization permanent, and would extend it to PDS in addition to the courts. According to the bill sponsor, “allowing buyouts would allow the D.C. courts and PDS to respond to their future administrative and budget needs, and would provide the flexibility to extend buyout offers to their employees.”[1]

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[1] See Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton Press Release, “Norton’s Two Bills to Improve Operations and Transparency of D.C. Courts Pass Committee,” July 12, 2016.

Cost

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is not currently available.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.