WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National President J. David Cox Sr. testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs at a hearing titled 'Empowering Managers: Ideas for a More Effective Federal Workforce.'
Speaking on behalf of the 700,000 government workers represented by AFGE, Cox said that the perception federal workers were "hard to fire" was simply a myth.
"Since the late 19th century, our federal civil service has been a professional, apolitical civil service. Today, we call it a 'merit-based' system and it is no overstatement to say that it is a cornerstone of our democracy," said Cox. "When an employee receives notice of an 'adverse action,' be it a suspension, demotion, or a termination, the body that hears his appeal is called the Merit System Protection Board."
"Note that it is a body focused on protection of the Merit System, not the employee," Cox added.
Cox said that the focus is too often set on underperforming employees instead of on efficient public servants. Cox noted that the MSBP upholds about 80 percent of managers' decisions to discipline or terminate underperforming employees.
“America has the very best civil service in the world," Cox said. "Yet the focus is so frequently on that tiny minority, rather than the 99 percent who are doing good work every day on behalf of the American people."
"The answer is to train and support and discipline managers so that they do their part to uphold and protect the merit system," said Cox. "Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater just to indulge federal managers who won’t or can’t do their jobs."