Office of Personnel Management implements Trump administration order regarding poor-performing federal employees

Image of the south facade of the White House.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on Friday issued final rules that revise federal agency methods for addressing poor-performing employees in the civil service. The rules implement President Donald Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13839, which aims to streamline the discipline and dismissal processes for poor-performing federal employees.

The regulations implement the following changes to agency management practices:

  • Reduce the time for employees to improve their performance, allowing agencies to more quickly initiate disciplinary actions against employees deemed poor-performing. 
  • Reduce the time period for employees to respond to allegations of poor performance.
  • Reiterate that agencies are not obligated to help employees improve. 
  • Prohibit agencies from entering into settlement agreements that modify an employee’s personnel record. 
  • Mandate that agencies remind supervisors of expiring employee probationary periods. 
  • Establish procedures for agencies to discipline supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers.

President Trump issued three executive orders on May 25, 2018, aimed at improving efficiency and accountability within the federal civil service. E.O. 13839, titled “Promoting Accountability and Streamlining Removal Procedures Consistent with Merit System Principles,” seeks to advance agency supervisors’ ability to support accountability within the federal civil service while protecting the procedural rights of federal employees. The order proposed several principles, management tactics, and reporting procedures for agency supervisors to incorporate in order to address issues of employee accountability. OPM’s final regulations aim to fully implement the order.

Supporters of E.O. 13839 have claimed that the order will improve the federal civil service by allowing agency supervisors to more efficiently address poor performance and misconduct in the workforce. Opponents of the order have argued that the management changes are unnecessary and will fail to bring about the stated goal of improved employee performance.

Additional reading: