Creating a New Civil Service System Isn’t Easy But Changes May Be Coming

The administration and key players in the House and Senate want to change the federal government’s HR system. It may happen this time.

Earlier this week, Fedsmith reported an administration proposal to create a pay for performance plan for federal employees. But that proposal is just one possible change.

The administration and some key Congressional representatives want to change government employment in several ways–including changes to make government more attractive to senior professionals. Presumably, this will help introduce new ideas at the higher echelons of government bureaucracy and offset anticipated problems with large number of retirements as the baby boomers hit the gray panther stage.

This pay for performance plan is one part of an overall push to reform (or “change” if you prefer that term) the Federal Government’s federal human resources system. Earlier this month, Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced a bill that would make additional changes in the federal system of human resources.

Voinovich is the chairman of the Senate governmental Affairs Subcommittee and obviously has a strong interest in this area. Moreover, the chairman of the House government Reform Committee, Tom Davis (R-VA), has also said he will pursue reform of the civil service system this year. So, with two of the key players in the House and Senate making noises about these changes, it is likely we will see modifications in a system notoriously difficult to change.

The proposal noted above to establish a “Human Capital Performance Fund” with $500 million in the fund is consistent with the Voinovich bill (click on the side link to read the bill, S. 129). The Voinovich proposal focuses on using pilot projects, including paying performance bonuses, as one way to modify the existing General Schedule pay system.

The proposal would also allow an agency to pay recruitment and retention bonuses to an employee or group of employees if there is a high probability those employees would leave government in the absence of such a bonus.

And, in a section that may surprise some Feds, the Voinovich bill would also allow agencies to count professional service outside of government to be counted in determining how much leave a person receives each year. Also, senior employees would automatically receive eight hours of leave per pay period instead of starting out at the bottom rung where employees get four hours of annual leave each pay period.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47