The Department of Defense released policy and procedure changes Thursday for reduction in force of civilian positions in the competitive and excepted service.
The changes are required as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. The law requires that when a reduction is necessary, the determination of employee separations will be made primarily on the basis of performance.
According to the release, the DoD civilian workforce “is one of the department’s most important assets. However, there are times when the department must make difficult decisions that impact our civilians, and in doing so, it is imperative these decisions result in our continued ability to seamlessly execute our national security mission.”
As of now, the policy change is not scheduled to affect Fort Hood.
“It would be inappropriate to speculate on an impact of a policy change for a situation that currently does not exist at Fort Hood,” said spokesman Tom Rheinlander on behalf of post officials.
The Fort Hood statement was in response to Daily Herald questions about how the policy change will affect civilian employees on post; whether any layoffs are in the works for the civilian workforce; which employees could be affected; and how many civilian employees could potentially lose their jobs on post.
There are about 5,000 civilian employees and more than 4,500 contractor personnel working on the Army post, according to a U.S. Army Garrison fact sheet published in October 2016.
On the Office of Personnel Management website, opm.gov, the federal government defines competitive and excepted positions.
“Civilian positions are generally in the competitive civil service. To obtain a competitive service job, you must compete with other applicants in open competition,” the website says.
Excepted service allows the direct hire of personnel for special jobs or to fill any job in unusual or special circumstances without going through the traditional competitive hiring procedures.
In order to comply with the law, the Defense Department has reprioritized the “order of retention” as implemented by the Office of Personnel Management in governmentwide regulations by placing performance as the primary retention factor. The current governmentwide reduction in force retention factors include tenure, veteran’s preference, length of service and performance.
The new procedures will rank employees on a retention register based on periods of assessed performance, which will include performance rating of record, tenure group, performance average score, veteran’s preference and date hired for federal service.
The department is communicating the new procedures to the DoD civilian workforce and human resources practitioners with briefings, online frequently asked questions and training, according to the DoD release. Congress has been notified of the department’s change to procedures.
The department will continue to consider every reasonable action to mitigate the size of reductions, including the use of voluntary early retirement or voluntary separation incentive payment, hiring freezes, termination of temporary appointments and any other placement options.