Lankford Pushes for Reforms in Annual Defense Bill
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today offered six amendments to the upcoming Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (FY21 NDAA). Lankford’s initial amendments address key areas in our nation’s defense policy that he hopes to see in the final version of the bill, which is set for consideration by the Senate next week.
Lankford’s amendments would repeal the 180-day waiting period for military retirees, close the coverage gaps in the Paid Parental Leave additions from the FY20 NDAA, enact his Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act (PATTA) as a provision of the bill, improve the Senior Executive Service (SES) Qualification Review Board, increase federal hiring of recent graduates, and expand the use of technology through Department of Energy (DOE) loans. Lankford is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management (RAFM).
“The NDAA provides Congress an annual opportunity to authorize existing and new federal programs and initiatives that affect our nation’s service members and their families, and these amendments represent some of the areas where we can better serve our heroes,” said Lankford. “These amendments focus on fixing broken processes, ensuring continuity across federal agencies, and making sure the federal government can hire and retain the brightest minds in our nation for its workforce. I hope to see these amendments added to the bill so we can correct in law some of these areas as we consider how to best serve those who serve our nation. I am grateful for Senator Inhofe’s leadership and work on the NDAA as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. His commitment to our men and women in uniform and dedication to protecting our national security make Oklahoma—and our entire county—safer.”
Lankford offered the following amendments today to the FY21 NDAA to:
- Repeal the 180-day waiting period for military retirees – This amendment would repeal the 180-day waiting period that a military retiree must wait until he or she can enter a civilian job at the Department of Defense (DOD). Our nation is consistently losing quality applicants to the private sector because no one wants to wait six months for a federal job when a private-sector firm can hire them immediately to do very similar if not the exact same work under a government contract. The amendment only repeals the 180-day rule if the new position is at or below GS-13, the position is authorized for direct hire authority, and the Secretary (or a designee who is no lower in rank than colonel, naval captain, or the civilian equivalent) has certified the position as one that lacks sufficient numbers of potential applicants who are not retired members of the armed services.
- Adjust the Paid Parental Leave Additions from the FY20 NDAA – This amendment ensures paid parental leave for all federal employees by fixing an incomplete provision in last year’s NDAA that mistakenly left several groups of federal employees out of Paid Parental Leave coverage.
- Include the Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act (PATTA) provision – To increase transparency, Lankford’s bipartisan bill, the Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act (PATTA), is offered as an amendment to require the notice of a proposed rule by a federal agency to include the internet address of a summary of the rule. The summary must be 100 words or fewer, written in plain language, and posted on regulations.gov.
- Improve the Senior Executive Service (SES) Qualification Review Board – This amendment would allow agencies to establish their own qualification review board to ensure the Senior Executives hired best fit the agency’s needs. This amendment would maintain OPM’s role in setting quality standards for applicants, as well as all other SES requirements, including the one-year probation period. The DOD has found this process to be effective, and other agencies deserve the same opportunity to ensure the best possible candidates lead their workforces.
- Increase federal hiring of recent graduates – This amendment would allow all agencies to directly hire recent graduates and post-secondary students so long as it does not exceed 25 percent of all hires made that year. As discussed in detail during Tuesday’s RAFM hearing, recent data from OPM shows the federal workforce is aging, with the number of workers over 50 (45 percent) significantly higher than those under 30 (6 percent). Granting all agencies the ability to directly hire recent graduates would help succession and workforce planning by allowing all agencies to hire younger workers and fulfill their future workforce needs.
- Expand commercial use of advanced technologies through loans – The amendment expands the DOE’s existing Title XVII Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program that fosters early commercial use of advanced technologies. Specifically, it would make projects focused on critical mineral production, processing, recycling, and fabrication of alternatives eligible for loan guarantees.