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United States Senate



Federal Employees

As the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia and a Co-Chair of the Congressional Public Service Caucus, Senator Akaka is regarded as one of the leading champions of federal workers, whose dedication, commitment, and courage are demonstrated every day.  He is a key defender of the pay, benefits, rights, and protections of federal employees. 

Senator Akaka wants to make the federal government an employer of choice.  He understands the need to attract, retain, and motivate a skilled workforce to meet the challenges of the 21st century by:

  • Ensuring that federal managers have the flexibility and tools to hire employees quickly and fill critical positions;
  • Ensuring that all employees and managers receive appropriate training; 
  • Ensuring that federal employees have strong rights and protections, including fair and transparent appeal procedures and collective bargaining rights, and are free from arbitrary adverse personnel actions;
  • Ensuring that federal employees can report government waste, fraud, and abuse without facing retaliation; and
  • Ensuring that the federal government has a competitive compensation and benefit programs for its employees. 

Senator Akaka works to provide agencies with strategic workforce planning and skill assessment tools.  He joined with Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) in 2002 to establish Chief Human Capital Officers within agencies and create a Chief Human Capital Officers Council to determine best practices, eliminate internal red tape, and utilize the flexibilities best suited to agencies' needs.  Senator Akaka supports a cooperative environment that will reduce inefficiencies and reform the federal hiring process so that the federal government can compete with the private sector in its ability to recruit, hire, retain, and manage a skilled workforce.

Understanding the importance of federal employee training programs, Senator Akaka introduced the Homeland Security Professional Development Act (S. 3476), to establish mentoring and rotation programs at the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Supervisor Training Act (S. 3584), to mandate stronger training programs for all federal managers because good managers foster positive work environments that produce an efficient, effective, and responsive government.

Senator Akaka partnered with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to enhance federal benefits.  One bill (S. 2479), eliminated open seasons for federal employees participating in theThrift Savings Plan (TSP), the federal employee retirement savings program. Identical legislation introduced in the House, included Akaka's provision from S. 2479 requiring the development of financial and retirement literacy programs for federal employees, became law on December 21, 2004 (P.L. 108-469). This bipartisan, bicameral bill builds on past legislation authored by Senator Akaka that provides federal employees over the age of 50 the ability to make additional contributions to their TSP accounts, just as their counterparts in the public and private sector may do under IRS regulations.

Senator Collins and Senator Akaka also moved S. 2657 which will provide affordable dental and vision care through a supplemental insurance program that will be open to federal employees, retirees, and their dependants (P.L. 108-496).  Senator Akaka would ultimately like to see an employer contribution, but understands that an employer contribution must be weighed against the tremendous fiscal constraints facing the federal government at this time.  The new supplemental dental and vision insurance will be offered for the first time during the 2007 open season.

Senator Akaka forged a bipartisan compromise that led to the introduction and passage of S. 494, the Federal Employee Protection of Disclosure Act, which is cosponsored by the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill would strengthen the rights and protections of federal employees who come forward to disclose government waste, fraud, and abuse.  The full Akaka bill is part of the FY07 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5122), which passed the Senate on June 26, 2006.

Senator Akaka successfully led the Senate to adopt the Homeland Security Federal Workforce Act (S. 589) to strengthen the federal government's recruitment and retention efforts in the areas of science, mathematics, engineering, and foreign language where there is a growing absence of qualified personnel.  This legislation would ensure that government preserves its expertise in matters of national security. Similar language from the bill to establish scholarships for government service and rotational assignments was included into the conference report to S. 2845, the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458).  Furthering his efforts to improve foreign language education and government recruitment and retention of individuals possessing critical language skills, Senator Akaka successfully added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2005 for the Department of Defense to issue a strategy for improving language education and cultural understanding for employees in the Department.

As a leading advocate for pay parity, Senator Akaka successfully added an amendment (S.Amdt. 174) to the Fiscal Year 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Act that for the first time called for pay parity among military and all federal civilian workers, including Federal Wage Grade employees. The Akaka amendment was included in the conference report and is used as the model for all subsequent pay parity legislation.

As part of Senator Akaka's efforts to ensure that agencies have the flexibility needed to recruit and retain skilled individuals, he was the lead cosponsor of a substitute amendment to S. 129 (P.L. 108-411), the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act, which builds on the amendments offered by Senators Voinovich and Akaka to the Homeland Security Act in 2002 that provides the federal government with additional flexibilities to hire and retain federal employees. S. 129 includes provisions championed by Senator Akaka, one of which provides federal employees with compensatory time off for time spent on official government travel.

To highlight the dedication of all public servants, Senator Akaka annually leads the Senate in passing unanimously resolutions commending public servants for their dedication and continued service to the nation during Public Service Recognition Week. 

Because of Senator Akaka's strong support for federal employee rights and protections, he was one of nine who voted against Homeland Security Act and one of three who voted against creating the National Security Personnel System that was part of the FY04 Defense Authorization Act because of provisions that would erode employee collective bargaining and appeal rights.  He submitted extensive comments to both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense in opposition to their personnel regulations.  Senator Akaka was also instrumental in having the Department of Defense publish its new personnel regulations in the Federal Register.  In separate rulings, federal judges have agreed with Senator Akaka and have found that NSPS and the DHS system strip key employee rights and protections.

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