USA– Last summer, President Obama signed into law the Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act (LMWFA). It took years of struggle to pass this good-governance, bipartisan reform. Unfortunately, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently issued agency guidance that effectively guts the LMWFA. On March 16, NFFE sent a letter to President Obama asking for his intervention in OPMs flawed guidance and to direct the agency to revise its guidance that contradicts the intent and plain language of the LMWFA. Following the delivery of the letter, William R. Dougan, National President of the National Federation of Federal Employees, Americas oldest federal employee union, issued the following statement:
As it stands, OPM is gutting the much-needed, bipartisan reforms of the LMWFA. The Congressional Record is clear that the Act is designed to provide long-serving temporary seasonal employees with the same career advancement opportunities available to other Federal employees. In direct opposition to Congressional intent, entrenched bureaucrats at OPM are keeping in place the very barriers to meaningful career advancement the LMWFA was enacted to break down. In 2012, President Obama stepped in to elevate the issue of providing wildland firefighters access to healthcare benefits. We are calling on the President to intervene once more on behalf of wildland firefighters to correct OPMs flawed implementation guidance. To support wildland firefighters, President Obama must step in to rectify OPMs major mistake.
OPMs guidance bars employees eligible under the LMWFA from consideration for merit jobs open to Federal employees outside of the hiring agency. The Federal wildland fire organization exists and operates across agency lines. Therefore, essentially all recruitment for vacancies under merit promotion occurs across agency lines. If it did not, a Forest Service vacancy announcement, for example, would arbitrarily exclude consideration of permanent firefighters in Interior agencies. Under OPMs recently-issued guidance, this same vacancy and again, firefighting positions are filled in this way would be closed to firefighters eligible under the Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act. LMWFA-eligible firefighters in the Forest Service would even be barred from consideration for Forest Service jobs. For firefighters, OPM has constructed a wall that is just as intact as its ever been. This wall cannot be allowed to stand.