White House issues civil service reform proposal

The Bush administration proposal would phase out the General Schedule system replacing it with occupation-based pay bands.

The White House today revealed another major piece of its second term government transformation project by releasing a draft version of civil service reform legislation.

In its current form, the “Working for America Act of 2005” would phase out the General Schedule system of pay and promotion by 2010, replacing it with occupation-based pay bands each composed of four grades. In addition, the proposal would link as much as 3 percent of workers’ annual salaries to some measure of worker performance.

Pay banding would allow government salaries for high-demand occupations to better reflect market conditions on both a local and a national level, said Clay Johnson, Office of Management and Budget deputy director for management. Today’s 50-year old system was set up when the federal government mostly employed clerks and typists rather than professionals, Johnson said while speaking today with reporters.

“We tend to treat [employees] like bureaucrats,” but an IT professional and a doctor don’t perform the same work, he added. The recent annual Office of Personnel Management survey of the federal workforce shows that only 29 percent of workers say that differences in performance are recognized in a meaningful way.

Agencies employing more than half of federal workers are already covered by some form of pay for performance system. But the proposed bill would create a set of reforms significantly less expansive than the ongoing changes at the Defense and Homeland Security Departments, Johnson said.

“We don’t have that same need for urgent reaction in a domestic agency,” as in DOD and DHS, Johnson said. “Most of what’s controversial about what exists in DOD and DHS does not exist in this reform package,” including limitations on collective bargaining, he said, although federal worker unions disagree.

“The broad pay proposal the administration wants to impose would largely mimic that which has been suggested for DHS,” said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, in a written statement. “If basic federal pay is going to be changed, then unions need the right to bargain over pay,” she added.

The proposal is one piece of a handful of White House measures to change the way government works. Reforming the civil service supports and is supported by those measures, which include the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART), Johnson said.

Without the articulation of federal programs goals required in PART examinations, it would be impossible to accurately assess how well federal workers are doing, Johnson said.

But now, “we’re much closer to having at least reasonably good performance measures for our programs, which means we can hold the senior person of that program accountable, which means he or she can hold the direct reports accountable, and so forth,” he said.

For civil service reform to work, managers will need to be adequately trained to evaluate their workers, Johnson added. “I don’t think anybody would say we are good managers of people,” he said. “Employees tell us that we’re not very good managers of people."

Training dollars are often the first to come under the red pens of congressional appropriators, however. But the annual dollar amounts involved are not staggering, Johnson said. They amount to hundreds of millions, “which is not zero, but it’s not billions,” he added. “This is not a fiscal challenge. This is a discipline challenge, a commitment challenge of holding people accountable.”

The time burden for managers and employees to craft performance goals and go through the evaluation process would not be burdensome, Johnson added. “Managers are spending time now managing,” he said. “But in a lot of cases, they’re not particularly effective at it. This helps make them effective at it.”

Agencies would all face a 2010 deadline for implementing the new personnel systems, but OPM certification would be a necessary precursor, Johnson said. “OPM becomes a quality-assurance entity,” he added.

The White House decided to release the legislation to the public in draft form following the June leak of an earlier draft to the media. The current version has incorporated comments from federal agency officials and is meant to inform the debate, Johnson said.

The act will not be introduced immediately into Congress, however. The Bush administration’s goal is to have legislation passed by the end of the 109th Congress. But administration officials will hold off trying to push for it until additional space opens up on the legislative branch’s busy agenda, he added.

NEXT STORY: On the circuit

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.