February 2019 Action Column

After the Shutdown

With mere days until the current Continuing Resolution funding many federal agencies expires, Washington once again stands at the edge of another partial government shutdown.

Yet there appears to be little appetite from lawmakers in either party for a recreation of the shutdown experience, and the White House is providing the bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives negotiating a border security and government funding package the room they need to find consensus.

Stability and clarity would be welcome respites for federal leaders attempting to keep a steady hand on the rudder of their organizations amidst the recent turmoil. With several proposals on the table in Congress to eliminate shutdowns completely, hopefully this was the last shutdown.

During the 35-day partial government shutdown, many Americans discovered the critical services and functions the government performs within our society that they had previously taken for granted.  Even more important, federal “bureaucrats” were humanized and made real by the economic hardship imposed on hundreds of thousands of patriots who worked for their country for over a month without pay.

We were encouraged that the House approved a 2.6% pay raise for civilian federal employees, and feel confident about the prospects that the 1.9% raise previously agreed to will be approved, as a minimum.

The government’s reputation as a stable and attractive employer was significantly damaged by the three shutdowns of 2018, and immediate work is necessary to reverse course. 

Federal hiring and talent acquisition policies are areas ripe for modernization to ensure that the government can compete for the talent it needs in a robust economy. SEA will be prioritizing legislative efforts to modernize and streamline federal hiring laws, restoring viable and robust internship and apprentice programs within the federal government, reforming the security clearance process, fixing a provision in the tax reform law that hits relocating federal employees and new hires who travel to a new duty station with significant taxes, while also pushing back against expected proposals in the President’s forthcoming budget to slash federal pay and benefits. 

We will build on the positive attention for the workforce and the government by focusing on realistic issues that have potential for passage in a divided Congress, while continuing to build the case for the need for comprehensive civil service modernization.

SEA cannot do this work alone. I encourage you to sign up for the SEA Policy Task Force by emailing me at briefel@seniorexecs.org to express your interest. 

What the SEA Policy Task Force does:

Works with the SEA Board Policy Committee, SEA President and SEA Executive Director to determine the issue areas (legislative and administrative) that SEA should focus on. Topics that may be considered by the task force include but are not limited to: talent management, SEA reform, civil service modernization, human capital policies, hiring reform, ECQs and assessments, organizational and individual performance management, etc.

The task force will review and provide insight and input on policy proposals that SEA is building, and provide feedback on policy proposals SEA is reviewing. Participants will be invited to engage in meetings with policymakers at their discretion. This task force will convene primarily via phone and email, with infrequent in-person meetings. The members of this task force serve as advisors and subject matter experts, providing personal input (not representing an agency or job position).

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