Flexibility, funds wanted for work force

Greater flexibility and a bigger budget to recruit and retain workers — especially information technology workers — will make it easier for agencies

to find and keep the right people in today's tight labor market, Roberta

Gross, inspector general at NASA, said at a Senate hearing Tuesday.

For example, Gross said she would like the ability to conduct pay banding,

which would allow NASA to offer a range of salaries to employees within

a certain level, such as GS-11. The Office of Personnel Management is developing

legislation to give agencies authority to design a broad pay banding system.

In addition, government's lengthy hiring process means that agencies are

losing potential candidates, Gross said, speaking at the Senate Governmental

Affairs Committee's Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and

the District of Columbia Subcommittee. IT security, criminal investigators

and auditors in particular are in high demand but often take months to hire.

Incentives are available, such as recruitment bonuses and retention allowances,

to attract and retain workers, but agencies don't use them very often, said

Henry Romero, associate director for Workforce Compensation and Performance

at the Office of Personnel Management. OPM is looking at making incentives

more flexible, including allowing a variety of payment methods, he said.

More money would go a long way in helping agencies deal with the recruitment

and retention problem and encourage agencies to use incentives more often.

NASA's Office of the Inspector General has only $75,000 in bonuses to spread

across 200 people.

But perhaps the most important step would be to fully implement the 1994

Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act, which called for closing the public

private pay gap over 10 years, testified Colleen Kelley, president of the

National Treasury Employees Union.

MORE INFO

"E-recruitment" [Federal Computer Week, May 1, 2000]

"Juggling act"[Federal Computer Week, May 1, 2000]

"The right stuff" [Federal Computer Week, May 1, 2000]

"Agencies take cues from the competition" [Federal Computer Week, April 10, 2000]

"Aging work force alarms CIOs" [Federal Computer Week, April 7, 2000]

For more coverage of IT work force issues, click on the Work Force link under News by Topic in the column at left.

BY Colleen O'Hara
May 3, 2000

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