Management rights is a term which defines those areas over which management exercises exclusive decision-making authority. These rights are spelled out in section 7106 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. There are two categories of management rights, "mandatory" or reserved rights, such as the right to determine mission, budget, internal security and "permissive" rights. Permissive rights are those rights (i.e., numbers, types and grades of employees assigned to an organizational subdivision, work project, or tour of duty or the methods, means and technology of performing work) that management may bargain, but is not statutorily required to do so. Although the law does not require bargaining over "permissive" management rights, once the parties include such rights in the collective bargaining agreement, they are enforceable for the life of the agreement.
Even though management cannot bargain over "reserved" management rights, and may elect not to bargain over permissive rights, management must bargain, upon request, over the procedures it will use in exercising these rights and on appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected by the exercise of such rights. (This is commonly referred to as impact and implementation (I&I) bargaining.) For example, the decision to conduct a reduction in force (RIF) is a reserved management right. So, while the decision to conduct a RIF is not negotiable, proposals on how to implement the RIF and how to take care of employees impacted by the RIF, such as providing outplacement or other assistance for displaced employees, are negotiable issues.
When there is a question whether a proposal is outside the duty to bargain because it involves a management right, the matter may be raised as a negotiability appeal to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (the Authority or FLRA). Negotiability decisions of the FLRA can be challenged in Federal court. Headquarters, Department of the Army or the Department of Defense prepares the management position in negotiability appeals.
Even where a proposal would violate management rights, management is encouraged to discuss the unions proposals and attempt to resolve the union's concerns while preserving management's rights.