Time to be flexible

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card asked government executives last week to be flexible and told them that there would be changes in jobs and job descriptions when the Homeland Security Department becomes a reality.

Card spoke at an Excellence in Government conference in Washington, D.C., July 16 where he outlined the changes in government that workers could expect if Congress passes legislation creating the proposed agency.

The department will be put together to meet the nation's security needs, he said. It will "require some of you to change maybe where you work, maybe how you work. It will certainly change some of those people you know in government in terms of how they do their jobs," he said. "But understand that Sept. 11 invited this change, and it is necessary."

Card said the Bush administration believes it can create a new department that will be effective with existing resources allocated to other departments. However, he said the administration wants each department to contribute.

"We're going to do it right," Card said. "We're not going to do it fast. We're not going to do it cheap. And we need your help."

The new department will house about 170,000 workers from other federal agencies, but many of the jobs will be transferred from Washington, D.C., to locations that need to be secured, including port and border sites.

In the coming months, Card said, the administration wants to make sure it manages the workforce correctly, uses competitive sourcing and creates a technologically advanced department that reflects budget and fiscal discipline.

"You have to be part of that solution," Card said.

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