Section 625 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2000 prohibits use of appropriated funds for inappropriate training that is offensive to Federal employees and unnecessary in the execution of their official duties. Section 625 is not intended to prohibit training that is necessary for Federal workers to effectively complete their assigned duties.
Similar restrictions appeared in section 101(h) of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1999 (Public Law 105-277); in section 622 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 1998; in section 624 of the Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government Appropriations Act of 1997 (Public Law 104-208); and in section 627 of the Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government Appropriations Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-52).
The following guidance is based on balancing our understanding of the intent of section 625 with the basic authorities contained in training law, chapter 41 of title 5, United States Code. Language from section 625 is in italics with our interpretation of each part immediately below.
Sec. 635. "(a) None of the funds made available in this or any other Act may be obligated or expended for any employee training that -"
Section 625 does not amend chapter 41 of title 5, United States Code, Training, or change the legal purpose of training. The purpose of training continues to be to improve individual and organizational performance related to an agency's mission (5 U.S.C. §4101(4)).
Please note that the phrase "this or any other Act" refers to all Acts of Congress which appropriate funds to agencies, to both civilian and military agencies, and to the training of all employees, both those subject to the civil service provisions of title 5 of the United States Code and those who are not subject to title 5.
"(1) does not meet identified needs for knowledge, skills, and abilities bearing directly upon the performance of official duties;"
Consistent with current law, this subsection reminds agency officials that there should be a relationship between the knowledge, skills, and abilities the training is intended to provide and an employee's lawfully assigned duties. Employees may be assigned to training associated with their current duties or anticipated duties related to the mission of the agency. 5 CFR 410.203 , based on Executive Order No. 11348 (1967), provides basic guidance to agencies for determining training needs of individuals, occupations, programs, and organizations.
"(2) contains elements likely to induce high levels of emotional response or psychological stress in some participants;"
Agency officials should carefully review and be sensitive to training content and training methods. Both content and methods should be evaluated in context with the purpose of the training. Training must not induce unnecessary psychological stress in participants. Some training programs might, of necessity, have the potential for inducing psychological stress and yet be performance related and in the Government's interest. An example would be training simulating stress already present in the employees' work environment.
"(3) does not require prior employee notification of the content and methods to be used in the training and written end of course evaluations;"
Employees have a right to be informed about the content and methods used in agency assigned training. They must be notified, in advance, of the purpose of all agency-sponsored training, about the content of the training, and of the methods to be used in the training.
Written end of course evaluations are required and must be used to assess participant reaction to the training content and the instructor and to assess the appropriateness and effectiveness of any participatory learning techniques.
"(4) contains any methods or content associated with religious or quasi-religious belief systems or new age belief systems as defined in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Notice N-915.022, dated September 2, 1988; or"
Agency officials should review U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Notice N-915.022 , "Policy guidance on 'new age' training programs which conflict with employees' religious beliefs." The notice provides guidance in handling situations where an employee objects to participating in a training program because the content or the techniques or exercises used conflict with the employee's religious beliefs.
The Notice includes, as examples of quasi-religious or "new age" training, 'personal growth' training programs that focus on changing individual employee's attitudes and self-concepts by promoting increased self-esteem, assertiveness, independence, and creativity in order to improve overall productivity.
While there may be some disagreement over whether the training programs themselves are religious or "new age," under the traditional Title VII theory of religious accommodation, an employee need only demonstrate that participation in the programs in some manner conflicts with his or her personal religious beliefs.
Agency officials must accommodate employees' religious beliefs, and agencies should have procedures for handling employees' requests for religious accommodation regarding training.
The Notice is available from the EEOC, Publications Information Center, P.O. Box 12549, Cincinnati, OH 45212-0549, 1-800-669-3362 (Voice), 1-800-800- 3302 (TDD), 513-791-2954 (Fax). It is also available on the human resource development home page at www.opm.gov/hrd/lead/.
"(5) is offensive to, or designed to change, participants' personal values or lifestyle outside the workplace."
This subsection reminds agency officials that it is inappropriate to use Federally-sponsored training to change employees' personal values or to influence their lifestyles outside the workplace.
This legislation does not affect training in Government ethics and codes of conduct expected of Federal employees. Both subjects are directly related to the performance of official duties.
Non-technical training is appropriate and performance related when it addresses:
In addition, section 9 of the Ryan White CARE Amendments Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-146) prohibits mandatory acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) training for Federal employees, except for training necessary to protect the health and safety of the employee and the individuals served by the employee. A Federal employee, including a member of the armed forces, may not be required to attend or participate in an AIDS or HIV training program unrelated to the restrictions noted above.
"(b) Nothing in this section shall prohibit, restrict, or otherwise preclude an agency from conducting training bearing directly upon the performance of official duties."
Section 625 does not prohibit any type of training that is necessary for Federal workers to effectively complete their legally assigned tasks.