FSGB: @StateDept Miscalculates Length of Creditable Federal Service in Annuity Case

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

USADF is an independent U.S. Government agency established by the U.S. Congress to support and invest in African-owned and African-led enterprises that improve the lives and livelihoods of people in underserved communities in Africa. See the African Development Foundation Act.
Via FSGB 2020-040:

Held – Grievant established by a preponderance of evidence that the Department of State (“Department” or “agency”) committed grievable errors when it miscalculated her length of creditable federal service and erroneously determined that her 2015-2016 employment with the U.S. African Development Foundation (“USADF”) was not federal service.

Case Summary –

Grievant was employed intermittently by the federal government from 1980 to 2016. In July 1984, grievant, previously a Civil Service (“CS”) employee of the U.S. Agency for International Development (“USAID”), converted to the Foreign Service (“FS”). From July 22, 1984 through at least February 24, 1988, USAID’s records show her as a participant in the Foreign Service Retirement and Disability System (“FSRDS”), paying the required seven percent (7%) mandatory employee contribution, receiving no credits under the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (“OASDI”) program, and not contributing to the Thrift Savings Plan (“TSP”). Upon applying for a pension, however, she was informed by the Department that she was four days short of the minimum five years required to qualify for an annuity.

Grievant asserted that she initially planned to resign from USAID on February 24, 1988, but that she decided to remain at post until March 11, 1988, in the FS and a participant in the FSRDS for those 15 days. She submitted two documents to verify her employment end date of March 11, 1988: a USAID-generated Individual Pay and Leave Record that showed employment by USAID for five pay periods in 1988 and a 1988 State Department FSRDS Participant Record from the Department. Both of those documents showed retirement payroll deductions through March 11, 1988. Grievant also complained that the Department did not consider her 2015-2016 employment with the USADF, a U.S. government agency, as federal service.

The Department denied that grievant was employed by USAID from February 25 to March 11, 1988. The Department relied on a USAID SF-50 form stating that grievant’s retirement date was February 24, 1988. The Department argued that its practice was to use an SF-50 as the only primary evidence available to verify creditable service, rejecting grievant’s documents as less persuasive secondary evidence. The Department offered no explanation for omitting grievant’s USADF employment from the calculation of her federal service.

The Board found that the State Department FSRDS Participant Record was a primary source of verification, that it was supported by the USAID-generated Individual Pay and Leave Record and was a more reliable record than the conflicting SF-50 form. The Board noted errors in the SF-50 form and prior SF-50s of grievant. Accordingly, the Board found that grievant proved by a preponderance of evidence that her creditable federal service at USAID ended on March 11, 1988. The Board also found that grievant was in federal service for the 2015-2016 period, as evidenced by SF-50s prepared by USADF.

The Board directed the Department to recommend an appropriate retirement annuity consistent with this decision and present to grievant for her consideration. The parties were ordered to report the Department’s recommendation of an annuity and grievant’s response to the Board within 30 days of this decision. The Board retains jurisdiction of the case.

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House GOP Brings Back Holman Rule to “Retrench” Agency Spending, Cut Pay of Any Federal Employee

Posted: 2:59 pm PT
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Via WaPo:

House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to a $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service.

The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to offer an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets a specific government employee or program.

A majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment, but opponents and supporters agree that it puts agencies and the public on notice that their work is now vulnerable to the whims of elected officials.

Via Federal News Radio:

The House of Representatives voted on party lines and approved the rules package for the 115th Congress. It reinstates the “Holman Rule,” a little-known provision that allows lawmakers to bring an amendment on an appropriations bill to the House floor that may “retrench” agency spending, reduce the number of federal employees in a particular agency or cut the salary or “compensation of any person paid out of the Treasury of the United States.”

srene

 

Excerpt from the GOP Rules Package from January 3, 2017:

Holman Rule – A new standing order for the first session of the 115th Congress reinstates the “Holman Rule”, most of which was removed from the standing rules in 1983.  The standing order functions as an exception to clause 2 of rule XXI to allow provisions changing law in certain limited circumstances.  Under this order, a provision in a general appropriation bill or an amendment thereto may contain legislation to retrench expenditures by (1) reducing amounts of money in the bill, (2) reducing the number of salaries of Federal employees, or (3) reducing the compensation of any person paid by the Treasury. To qualify for treatment under this order, an amendment must be offered after the reading of the bill and must comply with all applicable rules of the House, such as germaneness.  The purpose of this provision is to see if the reinstatement of the Holman rule will provide Members with additional tools to reduce spending during consideration of the regular general appropriation bill.

FreedomWorks which praised the inclusion of the “Holman Rule” in the rules package that passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 234 to 193 says:

The provision, which is effective only for the first session of the 115th Congress, allows Members to introduce amendments to appropriations bills on the floor of the lower chamber to reduce the size of a federal agency’s workforce or adjust compensation for certain federal employees, who, according to a 2015 study by the Cato Institute, earn an average of 78 percent more than workers in the private sector.

The group also puts out a backgrounder for the Holman Rule, which we are not acquainted of, until today:

Named after Rep. William Holman (D-Ind.), the “Holman Rule” was first adopted by the House in 1876. Holman, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and a fierce opponent of federal spending, introduced the amendment to reduce extraneous spending. The Holman Rule was part of the House rules from 1876 until 1895. It was adopted again as part of the rules in 1911 and survived intact until 1983, when Democrats, who had the majority in the House, nixed it.

Some House Democrats complained about the reinstatement of the Holman Rule prior to the vote on the rules package, foolishly suggesting that it is an attack on federal workers. “Reinstating the so-called ‘Holman Rule’ would allow any Member of Congress to simply offer an amendment that could reduce the salary of any federal employee, or eliminate a federal employee’s position without hearings, testimony, or due process,” Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), John Delaney (D-Md.), and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said in a press release. “[W]ith this rule House Republicans would instead treat these civil servants like political pawns and scapegoats.”

FreedomWorks notes that “the reinstatement of the Holman Rule is temporary, lasting only for the first session of the 115th Congress, or the 2017 legislative year. But its revival is a trial run that could lead to spending cuts for federal agencies that often run roughshod over congressional authority in Article I of the Constitution, as well as achieve the goal of reducing federal spending as the national debt approaches $20 trillion.”

So a “trial run” for this legislative year, but could become normal in the years ahead.  The reinstatement of the Holman Rule was lost in the uproar over the proposed gutting of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The WaPo report says that as “a concession to Republicans who oppose this rule, leaders designed it to expire in one year unless lawmakers vote to keep it in place.” But the same report quotes House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying that “insofar as voters elected Trump with the hope of fundamentally changing the way government works, the Holman Rule gives Congress a chance to do just that.”  

“This is a big rule change inside there that allows people to get at places they hadn’t before,”  McCarthy told reporters.

Note that WaPo says a majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment to an appropriations bill that targets a specific government employee or program, but that this puts agencies and the public on notice that their work is now vulnerable to the whims of elected officials.

So, we’re now all just waiting to see which congressional representative will be the first to throw a tantrum and attempt to get a federal employee’s salary down to $1.00?

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