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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Introduces Bill to Improve Management and Operations of the District of Columbia Courts and Public Defender Service

Jun 26, 2014
Press Release
Norton Introduces Bill to Improve Management and Operations of the District of Columbia Courts and Public Defender Service

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill to provide the District of Columbia Courts (D.C. Courts) and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) with the same authority that federal courts and federal agencies have to offer voluntary separation incentive payments, or buyouts, to their employees.

Norton, in her statement introducing the bill, said, “Buyouts would allow the D.C. Courts and PDS to respond to their future administrative and budget needs . . . . In particular, many of the jobs that the D.C. Courts are trying to fill require specialized skill sets, and buyout authority would help to make the administration and operations of the courts more effective and efficient.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed a Norton bill this Congress that provides new authorities for the D.C. Courts and PDS as well as the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (H.R. 4185); the bill is awaiting floor action.  This bill will grant these agencies an additional authority, employee buyouts, which have already been granted to federal courts and federal agencies.

Norton’s full introduction statement follows.

 

Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on the Introduction of the District of Columbia Courts and Public Defender Service Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments Act

 

June 26, 2014

Ms. Norton. Mr. Speaker. Today, I introduce the District of Columbia Courts and Public Defender Service Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments Act.  The bill would make a minor change to the authorities of the District of Columbia Courts (D.C. Courts) and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), placing these entities in the same position as their federal counterparts for more effective management and operation.

This bill would give the D.C. Courts and PDS authority to offer voluntary separation incentive payments, or buyouts to their employees. Buyouts would allow the D.C. Courts and PDS to respond to their future administrative and budget needs.  The sequester and other budgetary pressures are a factor in the need to offer employees who are eligible for retirement the incentive to retire.  The D.C. Courts and PDS would like the flexibility to extend such offers to their employees.  In particular, many of the jobs that the D.C. Courts are trying to fill require specialized skill sets and buyout authority would help to make the administration and operations of the court more effective and efficient.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has held that voluntary separation incentive payments may be made only where statutorily authorized.  While federal agencies and federal courts have the statutory authority to offer buyouts, PDS and the D.C. Courts have not been expressly permitted to provide these types of payments to their employees.  PDS and the D.C. Courts seek the same buyout authority in order to manage their workforce as budget conditions and needs change.

           I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.