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H.R. 2283 (115th): Department of Homeland Security Morale, Recognition, Learning and Engagement Act of 2017

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 20, 2017.

Department of Homeland Security Morale, Recognition, Learning and Engagement Act of 2017 or the DHS MORALE Act

(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require the Chief Human Capital Officer of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (the chief) to:

develop and implement strategic workforce planning policies with respect to leader development and employee engagement; develop and implement policies that are informed by employee feedback; require that the career path framework and leader development opportunities are informed by an assessment of the learning and developmental needs of employees across DHS and appropriate workforce planning initiatives; maintain a catalogue of available employee development opportunities, departmental leadership development programs, interagency development programs, and other rotational programs; and ensure that employee discipline and adverse action programs comply with all pertinent laws, regulations, and federal guidance and ensure due process. The chief may designate a DHS employee to serve as Chief Learning and Engagement Officer.

DHS's report to Congress on fulfilling its workforce strategies shall include information on: (1) employee development opportunities, participation and attrition rates, and impacts on retention and employee satisfaction; (2) progress of strategic workforce planning efforts; and (3) activities of the employee engagement steering committee.

(Sec. 3) The bill establishes an employee engagement steering committee, including representatives from operational components, headquarters, field personnel, and employee labor organizations, to:

identify factors that have a negative impact on employee engagement, morale, and communications within DHS; identify, develop, and distribute initiatives and best practices to improve employee engagement, morale, and communications within DHS; monitor efforts of each DHS component to address employee engagement, morale, and communications based on employee feedback provided through annual employee surveys, questionnaires, and other communications; advise DHS on efforts to improve employee engagement, morale, and communications within specific DHS components and across DHS; and conduct regular meetings and report, at least quarterly, to the Under Secretary for Management, the head of each component, and the DHS Secretary on DHS-wide efforts to improve employee engagement, morale, and communications. The chief shall: (1) issue a DHS-wide employee engagement action plan to execute strategies to improve employee engagement, morale, and communications within DHS; and (2) require each component to develop and implement a component-specific plan to advance such action plan, monitor progress, and provide quarterly reports on progress.

The preceding provisions terminate five years after enactment.

(Sec. 4) DHS may establish an annual employee award program to recognize DHS employees for significant contributions to the achievement of its goals and missions.

(Sec. 5) The Government Accountability Office (GAO) shall utilize a report by the Inspector General General of DHS, if available, and investigate whether the application of discipline and adverse actions are administered in an equitable and consistent manner that results in the same or substantially similar disciplinary outcomes across DHS for misconduct by a non-supervisory or a supervisor employee.

DHS's Under Secretary for Management shall: (1) review the findings and recommendations of such investigation and implement a plan to correct any relevant deficiencies identified by the GAO, and (2) direct the steering committee to review such plan to inform committee activities and action plans authorized under this bill.