David Perdue Proposes Holding Federal Employees to Account

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) (L) speaks as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (R) looks on during a news conference on immigration February 12, 2018 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. Senate Republican lawmakers introduced a $25 billion border security package, with limits to family-based immigration, …
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Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) proposed legislation Wednesday that would cut government waste and ensure accountability for government workers who fail to uphold their duty to serve the American people.

Sen. Perdue, along with Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) reintroduced the Modern Employment, Improvement and Transformation (MERIT) Act, which would modernize the federal civil service system by expediting the dismissal of federal employees who fail to meet performance standard. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) introduced the House companion legislation on Wednesday.

The Georgia conservatives’ legislation arises as President Donald Trump announced his 2020 presidential campaign Tuesday, pledging to continue ridding Washington, DC of corruption and grift.

“It’s going to take at least four more years to drain that swamp,” Trump said during his campaign rally in Orlando, Florida.

Sen. Perdue’s legislation would serve as another avenue through which President Trump could further drain “drain the swamp” by firing employees who fail to meet performance standards.

Perdue said in a statement federal employees should be held to the same standard as every other American, suggesting that with over $22 trillion in debt, we cannot afford workers who cannot serve the American people.

Sen. Perdue charged:

Government employees should be held to the same standards as private sector employees, yet it is nearly impossible to fire bureaucrats for failing to do their jobs. Right now, it can take more than a year to fire or replace a civil service employee, even for poor performance or misconduct. With a $22 trillion debt crisis, we cannot afford to hold onto bureaucrats who aren’t doing their jobs. Since President Trump took office, more than 4,300 bad actors have been fired, demoted, or suspended at the VA. It’s time to expand those efforts and address problems across the entire federal government.

Perdue’s legislation follows as a Gallup poll found in January that only 35 percent of Americans either say they have a great or fair amount of trust in the American government.

Tom Schatz, the president of Citizens Against Government Waste, wrote an op-ed recently detailing how the federal Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) was initially designed to hold federal employees accountable; however, it has “metastasized into an institutional nightmare,” making it nearly impossible to fire any federal worker.

Schatz noted that of the 200,000 people who leave the federal government each year only 10,000 leave for performance or misconduct issues. This means that the rest retire, resign, or finish temporary appointments. Despite the small percentage of employees fired every year, Schatz revealed that 41 percent of permanent federal employees fired were still in their probationary periods from 2000 to 2014.

The Merit Act will streamline the process, making it easier for the government to terminate under-performing government workers. The Merit Act will:

  • Shorten the amount of time required to remove under-performing employees.
  • Allow agencies to remove a senior executive for performance reasons, instead of merely demoting the senior executive.
  • Limit retirement benefits of employees who are removed from their position due to a felony conviction related to their official duties.
  • Authorize agencies to recoup bonuses and other awards when performance or conduct issues are discovered through investigations and performance reviews.
  • Extend the probationary period for competitive appointments and promotions from one to two years so that there remains an adequate amount of time to evaluate a new employee.
  • Curb the ability to use intermediaries to overrule or undermine Merit Systems Protection Board precedent.
  • Uphold whistleblower protections.

“The federal government works first and foremost to serve the American taxpayer,” said Sen. Blackburn in a statement Wednesday. “It is important that federal agencies have the ability to adequately discipline and dismiss poorly performing government employees who fail to live up to standards. The MERIT Act will lead to greater efficiency and more accountability on behalf of American taxpayers.”

“The American people deserve high-performing and effective federal employees,” said Sen. Grassley in a statement Wednesday. “Unfortunately, that’s not always what they get. Although most federal employees work hard to do their jobs well, some government employees chronically display poor performance or misconduct, and get away with it due to the current byzantine process for removing an employee.”

“The MERIT Act would fix this problem by holding poor-performing bureaucrats accountable for their actions,” Grassley added.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3

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