Civilian personnel reform to be targeted

White House proposals to expand civil service reform governmentwide will be less expansive than existing personnel changes being enacted at the Defense and Homeland Security departments, said Clay Johnson, Office of Management and Budget deputy director for management.

New rules being implemented at DOD and DHS make it easier for officials to link pay to performance and fire or transfer workers. But civilian agencies do not have the same counterterrorism mission as the Pentagon and DHS, and thus do not need such a broad set of reforms, Johnson said today. Lawmakers will introduce legislation in coming weeks that "will be targeted to the [personnel] reforms that we think a strong business case can be made for," Johnson said.

Implementing changes to the general schedule system of pay and promotion will require convincing federal employees that the changes are good, Johnson said. "With any civil service modernization, the questions we have to answer are very clear: What's in this for me?" Johnson said.

Employees need to be assured that they will still be protected under the new system, he added. "What needs to be reformed is way less important than how any reform is going to be implemented," he said.

Personnel reform is just one of three President's Management Agenda-related pieces of legislation the White House is planning to push in Congress. Under a proposed "Sunset Commission" law, if Congress did not vote to continue a program, it would no longer be funded. Also on the Bush administration 2005 legislative agenda is "Results Commission" legislation that would allow executive branch officials to call commissions to examine outcomes of multiagency programs.

Those pieces of legislation will "going to get a lot of attention from the executive branch," Johnson said. Johnson said he could say what relative priority those pieces of legislation will have when compared to other Bush administration efforts in Congress such as social security reform, which has faced opposition.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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