Defense civilian policy moves closer to law

Officials from the House of Representatives announced today that House-Senate conferees concluded work on the framework for a new Defense Department civilian personnel system.

The National Security Personnel System would give Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld more leeway in hiring, classifying, paying, promoting and firing employees, said a House statement issued this week.

"The new system will bring the department into the 21st century and allow [it] to recruit the best and brightest civilian employees. The fact is that we need a civilian workforce that is more agile and effective than it was during the Cold War or has been in past decades," said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman, and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va,), House Government Reform Committee chairman.

The National Security Personnel System addresses appeals, alignment, collaboration, early retirement, expert hiring, increasing pay caps for Senior Executive Service employees, performance management, staffing flexibility and rehiring annuitants, the House statement said.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, which was agreed to Nov. 6 by House-Senate conferees, contained provisions for the new DOD civilian personnel system. It goes into effect after the House and Senate pass the 2004 DOD authorization bill and President Bush signs it into law.

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