Week ending March 17, 2017
H.R.1367 – To improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
The bill would make a number of improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) ability to identify staffing shortages, recruit and retain high-quality employees, and quickly on-board new hires.
Section 3 of the bill would establish an Executive Management Program to allow eligible VHA and Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) employees the opportunity to take one-year fellowship positions in comparable private sector entities and eligible private sector employees to take one year fellowship positions in comparable VHA or VBA sites.
Section 4 of the bill would require VA to conduct annual performance plans for VA political appointees. This would ensure that the Department’s senior political appointees undergo a performance planning and appraisal process similar to that of the Department’s career senior executives.
Section 6 of the bill would allow VA to noncompetitively reappoint a former VA employee to a position not more than one grade higher than his or her former position as long as the employee left voluntarily within the prior two years, had a satisfactory performance record, and maintained necessary licensures and credentials.
Section 7 of the bill would require VA to establish a recruiting database listing each vacant position that VA determines is critical to its mission, is difficult to fill, or both. The database would contain information on qualified individuals who applied for a position within VA and were not chosen but could be qualified for other similar VA positions elsewhere.
To address a issue and create a pathway to promotion for high-performing employees in highly-technical positons, Section 9 of the bill would require VA to establish a promotional track for technical experts that does not require transition to a managerial position.
Section 10 of the bill would require GAO to study and report on succession planning for each medical facility within VHA as well as mission-critical positions within VBA and NCA.
Section 11 of the bill would require VA to collect information, indicators, and measurements on hiring effectiveness and employee satisfaction and submit an annual report to Congress on the information collected for each Veterans Integrated Service Network.
Section 12 of the bill would require VA to promulgate regulations to allow for excepted service appointments for students and recent graduates leading to conversion to career or career conditional employment.
Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate a report containing the aggregate results of the exit survey under subsection (a) covering the year prior to the report.
(Full text of H.R. 1367 at congress.gov)
Sponsor: Rep. Wenstrup, Brad R. [R-OH-2] (Introduced 03/06/2017)
Status: Passed House /
VOTES and FLOOR ACTION
On Passage: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 412 – 0 (Roll no. 171).
An amendment, offered by Mr. Wenstrup, numbered 1 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to extend the timeline to implement the fellowship program from 90 days to one year and extends the GAO reporting deadline from one to two years. Also, the amendment removes the requirement to track a number of hiring effectiveness metrics, changes the establishment of a recruiting database from a “shall” to “may” authority, and stipulates that HR training be accomplished virtually. On agreeing to the Wenstrup amendment; Agreed to by voice vote
An amendment, offered by Ms. Meng, numbered 2 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to make clear that the Inspector General of the VA must report, pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 7412, on at minimum 5 clinical and 5 nonclinical VA occupations that have the largest staffing shortages, which then triggers special hiring authorities for the Secretary to address such shortages. On agreeing to the Meng amendment; Agreed to by voice vote
An amendment, offered by Ms. Sewell (AL), numbered 3 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to allow the Secretary to select eligible employees for the Executive Management Fellowship Program who represent or service rural areas, to whatever extent practicable. On agreeing to the Sewell (AL) amendment; Agreed to by voice vote
An amendment, offered by Ms. Hanabusa, numbered 4 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to strike section 6, “Reemployment of Former Employees,” which would allow for the Secretary to appoint former employees at one grade higher than when they last separated, without having to go through the usual competitive application process. On agreeing to the Hanabusa amendment; Failed by voice vote.
An amendment, offered by Mr. Buck, numbered 5 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to prevent former political appointees at the VA from receiving non-political, competitively selected positions at the VA without having to go through the proper selection process. On agreeing to the Buck amendment; Agreed to by voice vote.
An amendment, offered by Ms. Shea-Porter, numbered 6 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to require the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to list open mental health positions in the database established under the bill. On agreeing to the Shea-Porter amendment; Agreed to by voice vote.
An amendment, offered by Ms. Brownley (CA), numbered 7 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to clarify that “medical facility” referenced in Sec. 10 includes each medical center, domiciliary facility, outpatient clinic, community-based outpatient clinic, and vet center. On agreeing to the Brownley (CA) amendment; Agreed to by voice vote.
An amendment, offered by Mr. Welch, numbered 8 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to add an analysis of succession planning and hiring in rural areas, and requires a study on the ability to hire and recruit veterans in rural areas. On agreeing to the Welch amendment; Agreed to by voice vote.
An amendment, offered by Mr. Gottheimer, numbered 9 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to add veterans who are recent graduates and/or recipients of Post-9/11 GI Bill Educational Assistance as a distinct category of individuals who are allowed for excepted service appointments.On agreeing to the Gottheimer amendment; Agreed to by voice vote.
An amendment, offered by Ms. Herrera Beutler, numbered 10 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to strengthen anonymity protections for employees filling out exit surveys, and requires exit survey data to be compiled at the VISN level to identify and acknowledge regional differences. On agreeing to the Herrera Beutler amendment; Agreed to by voice vote
An amendment, offered by Ms. Hanabusa, numbered 11 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to require the total number of employees that voluntarily separated and the percentage of those employees that took the voluntary exit survey. On agreeing to the Hanabusa amendment; Agreed to by recorded vote: 400 – 8 (Roll no. 170).
An amendment, offered by Ms. Meng, numbered 12 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to encourage the transition of military medical professionals into employment with the Veterans Health Administration upon discharge or separation from the Armed Forces. On agreeing to the Meng amendment; Agreed to by voice vote.
An amendment, offered by Mr. Bost, numbered 13 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a plan to hire a director for each VA medical center without a permanent director. n agreeing to the Bost amendment; Agreed to by voice vote.
An amendment, offered by Mr. O’Rourke, numbered 14 printed in Part B of House Report 115-39 to allow the VA to offer physicians conditional job offers two years prior to the completion of their residency program. Also, the amendment requires VA recruiters or similar official to visit each teaching institution with a residency program at least once annually. On agreeing to the O’Rourke amendment; Agreed to by voice vote.
Motion to recommit:
Text of the motion:
COST AND IMPACT
Cost to the taxpayers: The Committee believes that enactment of this bill would result in no additional direct spending over the 2018-2022 period. Assuming the appropriation of authorized amounts, the Committee estimates that the legislation would also have a discretionary cost of $33 million over the 2018-2022 period.
Pay-as-you-go requirements: Data not available
Regulatory and Other Impact: Data not available
Dynamic Scoring: Data not available
Tax Complexity: Not applicable to this bill.
Earmark Certification: H.R. 1367 does not contain any Congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives.
Duplication of programs: the Committee finds that no provision of H.R. 1367 establishes or reauthorizes a program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of another Federal program
Direct Rule-Making: Pursuant to section 3(i) of H. Res. 5, 115th Cong. (2017), H.R. 1367 would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to prescribe regulations pursuant to Section 12 of the bill that would allow for excepted service appointments of students and recent graduates of qualifying educational institutions leading to conversion to career or career conditional employment at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Advisory Committee Statement: No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 1367.
Budget Authority: Data not available
Constitutional Authority: Assumed.
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