New Pentagon policy makes job performance key for civilians to keep their jobs
WASHINGTON — The Defense Department will now prioritize employee performance over all other factors if they are forced to lay off civilian workers, the Pentagon announced Thursday in a drastic change to its force reduction policies.
The Pentagon, like all other federal agencies, had considered an employee’s tenure and veterans’ status ahead of on-the-job performance evaluations when making workforce cuts. But a new policy was quietly implemented Jan. 19 and announced to the Defense Department’s 755,000-person civilian workforce in a memorandum released Thursday.
The policy change was mandated by Congress in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. It does not signal impending layoffs within the federal government’s largest department, said a senior defense official. It is also not related to the hiring freeze implemented this week by President Donald Trump, which halted the Defense Department and other federal agencies from filling most open positions for 90 days while the White House determines how it will shrink the federal workforce.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” said the official, who requested anonymity to provide details about the plan. “ … It was a very intensive, in-depth process to end up coming up with the policy that we felt confident would meet congressional intent and allow us to retain the best performers.”
Layoffs, known in the government as reductions-in-force, occur occasionally in the Defense Department, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Thursday. But the Pentagon did not have information immediately available about how often it has occurred recently or how many employees had been subjected to layoffs in recent years, he said.
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