Davis drafts IT workforce legislation

NAPA report

To promote better recruitment, training and retention in the federal information technology and acquisition workforce, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) will introduce legislation this month to establish a pay-for-performance system for those employees.

The legislation, which is in draft form, is called the Market-Based Acquisition and Information Technology Workforce Pay-for-Performance Act of 2001. Davis announced it at an Oct. 4 hearing of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, of which he is the chairman.

"The legislative proposal that we will consider calls for ending the 'one-size-fits-all' approach for recruitment, compensation and retention of technology and acquisition employees classified as GS-5 to 15," Davis said.

The legislation has four main components:

* The creation of a market-based, pay-for-performance system for the federal IT and acquisition workers who choose to use it.

* Enabling flexible and improved recruiting and hiring processes by bringing the new class of employees in as non-career employees who can be hired faster than by using traditional methods.

* Expanding work/life options and other benefits illustrating the government's working conditions.

* Improving the government's training and education opportunities.

The proposal draws heavily on the recommendations of a recently released report, "The Transforming Power of Information Technology: Making the Federal Government an Employer of Choice for IT Employees," from the National Academy of Public Administration.

In addition to the four main themes, Costis Toregas, president of Public Technology Inc., also stressed the need for strong managerial endorsement and participation to be successful. Toregas represented NAPA at the hearing.

Managers will have difficult decisions to make in setting pay levels and will need "the necessary tools to support them in their decision-making so that they truly have 'freedom to manage,' " Toregas said in his testimony. "Additionally, agency budgets and management decisions must support full implementation of the system."

Toregas had not yet had the chance to review Davis' draft legislation, but said, "anything Congress can do that is keying off the basic recommendations, I would welcome.

"It's our view that it's time for this to stop being a study and start being a reality," he told Federal Computer Week. "I'd be happy to review [the legislation] to see if NAPA can play a role."

The Davis legislation was welcomed by two of his colleagues on the subcommittee -- Reps. Jim Turner (D-Texas) and Stephen Horn (R-Calif.). Horn called the government's human capital shortage "the most important actual policy issue of the last decade" and said "human infrastructure is without question what we have to worry about and we should."

Representatives from the General Accounting Office, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management also testified at the hearing, and although they all agreed that the IT workforce shortage should be treated as a long-term problem, there were only lukewarm endorsements for the NAPA study's recommendations.

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