Recently, our consultants were contacted by clients notified by their respective agencies that the agency was proposing removal from employment. In all cases, the affected employees (clients) waited to contact a consultant until well after they received the notice of proposed removal and in some cases, even after the deadline to respond to the deciding official had passed. This is a critical delay by clients and usually results in greater representational costs as well as increased risks at outcomes.
Federal employees who receive a notice of proposed removal must immediately take action, whether hiring a consultant, obtaining union representation, or seeking legal counsel. Typically, employees are provided a minimum of fourteen days, from receipt of notice, to provide a written and/or oral response to the deciding official as part of due process procedures. Furthermore, the Agency cannot typically effect the proposed action any sooner than thirty-days from the date the employee receives the notice of proposed action. However, this response period may be shortened for cause. For example, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations at 5 CFR 752.402 permits agencies to place employees on indefinite suspension with a shortened response period of seven days.
Action Items Following Receipt of a Notice of Proposed Adverse Action
- Immediately obtain a complete copy of the proposed action notice and evidence file. The agency is required to provide you with this information.
- Immediately obtain a copy of your most recent SF-50 (notice of personnel action) and your appointment SF-50. These documents can be obtained by request from the Processing and Records section of your local Human Resources department or by accessing your electronic Official Personnel Folder (e-opf). We actually recommend you download a complete copy of your e-opf because you will no longer have access if you are removed from Federal Service.
- Read the agency notice very carefully. You are required to respond to the Charge(s) and Specification(s). Be sure you are familiar with them and can discuss them accurately within the context of your involvement.
- Contact a consultant at InformedFED by either using this form or calling (202) 642-1287 ( 24/7 ). Initial consultations are without charge or obligation. Alternatively, you could contact your local union or legal counsel. Either way, you need to start the process or otherwise make arrangements to respond to the agency notice accordingly and within the prescribed time limits.
If you elect to retain a consultant, we will ask you to send us all associated documents for an initial analysis. The preferred method of receiving this information is by e-mail with all the documents in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. If you do not have scanning capability, many of our clients use Fedex/Kinko’s services.
The most important “take away” is that it is not prudent to wait in seeking assistance in these situations. It is far better to try to convince a deciding official to not take the proposed action, rather than waiting for him or her to make the decision and then appeal the decision.