HOUSE COMMITTEE CONSIDERS CHANGES TO HATCH ACT - May 17, 2012
Lawmakers urged to bring Hatch Act into the age of telework and social media
By Kellie Lunney Clark, Government Executive
During a hearing in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and Labor Policy, witnesses testified on an overwhelming need to update the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal workers from participating in political activity. Federal employees found in violation of the Hatch Act, no matter the degree of violation, are terminated. Panelists commented on the need for graduated penalties and a better definition of "on-duty." The Hatch Act has not been updated sine 1993 and is no longer in line with advances in technology, such as e-mail and social media.
The Federal Managers Association (FMA) submitted written testimony for the hearing, recommending changes to the penalty system. "Penalties for violating the Hatch Act should be dependent on the situation, not an automatic or mandatory removal for everyone. Making termination the only penalty possible is unreasonable, given the wide range of possible offenses under the Hatch Act; a one-size fits all penalty is rarely a truly effective one. There is no justice in a sweeping, mandatory removal policy across the federal workforce," FMA stated.