OPM’s new regulations on 5 CFR parts 432 and 752, which went into effect Dec. 12, 2022, removed the 2020 regulations’ prohibition on clean record agreements. Agencies are once again free to use clean record settlements. This was probably the most contested portion of the 2020 regulations, which had incorporated President Trump’s E.O. 13839 prohibitions on clean record settlements.
OPM explains that clean record agreements “should be an option for agencies to resolve informal and formal complaints when the agency deems it is in the best interests of effective and efficient management to achieve the agency’s mission,” and that clean record agreements provide agencies with an important tool and flexibility, consistent with the policies of President Biden’s E.O. 14003, Protecting the Federal Workforce.
OPM identified some of the disadvantages to prohibiting clean record agreements:
- Reduced likelihood of parties reaching a mutually agreeable resolution of informal or formal complaints
- Increase of costly litigation and arbitration
- Crowding of the dockets of third-party investigators, mediators, and adjudicators
- Cases languishing impact the agency’s credibility, supervisor morale, and efficient execution of the agency’s mission
OPM’s rescission does not take a position on whether any particular case should be settled, as it acknowledges that settlements, which through lessening a penalty or permitting resignation, may in certain circumstances:
- Lessen the risk of outright reversal with its high costs without benefit, or
- May adversely affect governmental interests.
Agencies are still required to be truthful to Federal investigators in connection with background investigations, and may not agree to withhold information about an individual’s departure from the agency. In addition, the requirement for agencies to be truthful applies also to suitability determinations and other inquiries related to vetting for personnel security.
The rescission of clean record restrictions applies to
- 432.108 (performance-based actions)
- 752.104 (discipline for whistleblower retaliation)
- 752.203 (short suspensions)
- 752.407 (appealable actions)
- 752.607 (SES adverse actions)
If you missed our recent webinar Implementing New OPM Regs for More Effective Disciplinary and Performance Actions, the recording is available in the FELTG store. [email protected]
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