Davis focused on workforce reform

Civil service reform is at the top of the agenda for the House Government Reform Committee, Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) said at a briefing Jan. 22.

Among the changes Davis plans to promote are pay-for-performance, a revamped Senior Executive Service, reorganization authority for the president similar to Fast Track trade authority, and a closer tie between an agency's performance and human capital planning.

"We need a new structure," Davis said, adding that the government needs to change how it recruits, retains, rewards and fires employees. "We need to revamp [the civil service] significantly" to make it more streamlined and efficient. Employees should be paid what they are worth, and people who do a good job should be rewarded.

Davis' agenda reflects recommendations laid out in the National Commission on the Public Service report released Jan. 7. It also supports workforce reforms championed by Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio).

"It's clear we can't take the existing structure into the 21st century," Davis said at an event sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service. He said there also needs to be more emphasis on recruiting and retaining the best people including speeding up the time it takes an agency to hire someone.

Davis said he liked the idea of creating two tracks for members of the Senior Executive Service: one for managers and one for technical experts. "They have two different skill sets," he said. "Both are important and we should allow for both."

He also said SES salary caps should be raised and uncoupled from congressional salaries. Otherwise, "it will lead to an exodus when it comes time for these folks to retire," he said.

Before he pursues his workforce agenda, Davis said he wants to be sure his Senate counterparts are also on board. And before any bill is introduced, he plans to hold hearings to hear from the stakeholders.

The Homeland Security Department could serve as a template for other governmentwide workforce reforms, Davis said, adding that at it will provide lessons learned. "There's a lot of pressure on them to make sure it's implemented correctly," he said.

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