WASHINGTON - House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) and Congressman Frank Wolf announced today that they will offer an amendment during the 2004 Transportation, Treasury Appropriations Conference that would prohibit the use of appropriated funds to implement the Office of Personnel Management's proposed regulations affecting the deployment of Executive Branch detailees to the legislative branch.
Hoyer and Wolf’s amendment states that no federal funds may be used to implement, administer, or enforce the proposed rule of the Office of Personnel Management relating to the detailing of executive branch employees to the legislative branch.
“I have had detailees from federal agencies on my staff for over seven years and my office has profited from their knowledge and skills,” said Whip Hoyer. “I fear that this rule will result in a significant loss to my office and to the Congress as a whole. This amendment will ensure that Congress is able to continue to take advantage of the valuable expertise Executive Branch employees bring to Congress by preventing Director James from using federal funds to implement this regulation.”
“It's not clear why such a dramatic change that would affect the number, availability and tenure of Executive Branch detailees is needed,” said Congressman Wolf. “I would hope that OPM would not act so quickly on a regulation that would affect hundreds of federal agency employees and a significant number of congressional offices without consulting the Congress.”
On Friday, Congressman Hoyer sent a letter to OPM Director Kay Coles James urging her to reconsider these regulations, expressing his concerns that this proposal, which would affect hundreds of detailees on Capitol Hill, would not only deter participation, but could result in the loss of benefit and expertise shared by both the executive and legislative branches of government.
In the letter, Congressman Hoyer wrote, "having the OPM Director serve as one, centralized "controller" of all detailees will be counter-productive and inefficient. It will slow the process of sending detailees to Congress by placing another level of bureaucracy between the two participating branches."
Hoyer also stated his opposition to the provision that only would allow a detailee to serve for 180 days stating, "detailees will only have a few months to perform productive work and to apply their new skills and knowledge. Furthermore, 180 days will not permit enough time for detailees to initiate and complete much of the work during a legislative session, which can last up to a year."
He added that each Agency Director or Cabinet-Level Secretary should have jurisdiction over his or her detailees, and should be the ones to make decisions about the initiation or termination of a detailee.