DOD presses for personnel flexibilities

DOD's legislative proposal

Defense Department officials are pushing ahead with their proposal to overhaul the department's civilian personnel system.

In a legislative package sent to Capitol Hill April 11, DOD proposed to transform how its civilian employees are hired, paid and managed. The existing system was "organized for a world that no longer exists," said David Chu, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness.

DOD plans to use the Homeland Security Department (DHS) as a template in creating a new National Security Personnel System, he said. DHS was granted broad personnel flexibilities but has only just begun to develop its departmentwide human resources system.

DOD, however, is off to a good start, Chu said. It wants to expand across the department some programs it has tested, such as pay banding.

The department's plan is to link pay to performance. DOD officials want to ensure that top performers receive the bulk of the bonuses and that employees who don't perform do not receive an annual increase.

It also wants to turn over to its civilian workforce jobs that are being performed by about 300,000 military personnel. Managers cannot get the flexibility they need from the existing personnel system, Chu said April 22 at an event hosted by the IBM Corp. Endowment for the Business of Government. It's unclear how many of these jobs might be outsourced to a contractor.

Ultimately, DOD's goal is to have a single personnel system. Ginger Groeber, deputy undersecretary for civilian personnel policy at DOD, said that eventually the existing Defense Civilian Personnel Data System and the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, which is under development, "will meet as a single system."

Other highlights of the DOD proposal include:

* Establish minimum qualification requirements and standards for acquisition, technology and logistics positions, and designate career paths for them.

* Establish an Acquisition Corps.

* Establish universal pay banding for five career groups.

* Bargain with employee unions at the national level instead of the local level.

* Offer voluntary separation incentive pay and early retirement.

* Hire Americans older than 55 who would maintain their retirement benefits.

* Hire experts for up to five years.

* Offer overseas pay and benefits for certain civilian employees working outside the country.

* Hire someone on the spot for hard-to-fill positions.

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