Bush pushes reforms

President Bush has sent legislation to Congress designed to reform how personnel, budget and property are managed in the federal government and to eliminate barriers to good management.

The two pieces of legislation, sent Oct. 15, are key parts of the Bush administration's larger Freedom to Manage initiative, announced in August.

The Managerial Flexibility Act would give federal managers more leeway in personnel issues. For instance, the act would:

* Create a governmentwide, targeted buyout program that would give employees up to $25,000.

* Allow agencies to offer larger recruitment and relocation bonuses.

* Increase the cap on total annual compensation for senior executives to that of the vice president's rate of basic pay.

* Make it easier to institute "demonstration" projects, such as pay-banding.

* Give managers the authority to directly hire candidates for certain positions.

The act would also require agencies to fully account for the cost of certain retirement and retiree health care benefits and would modernize how the government manages its land and facilities.

The legislation would group together and make more widely available many flexibilities that already exist, according to Kay Coles James, director of the Office of Personnel Management. "I think there will be broad-based support" for the legislative packages, she said.

In addition, the Freedom to Manage Act would allow the president to submit legislation to eliminate or reduce legal barriers to efficient government for "fast-track" consideration by Congress.

Sean O'Keefe, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, said he expects agencies to list in their fiscal 2003 budget submissions any laws that they believe should be repealed.

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