July 19, 2005


Bush Aims to Expand System of Merit Pay: Unions Criticize Plan Based on DHS Model (Christopher Lee, July 19, 2005, Washington Post)

The administration wants to abolish the General Schedule pay system by 2010 and require that at least part of every pay raise for the government's 1.8 million civilian employees hinge on an annual performance evaluation, President Bush's top management guru said yesterday.

Clay Johnson III, a deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, laid out a proposal to expand government-wide the kind of pay-for-performance systems being implemented at the departments of Defense and Homeland Security as part of the recent restructuring of civil service rules at those agencies.

"The federal government, as a rule, is pretty bad about managing people," Johnson said yesterday in a meeting with Washington Post reporters and editors. "We tend to treat people and manage our people as if they are bureaucrats. 'They are all the same, let's treat them all the same.' The goal is to treat them, and to think of them, as professional public servants, not as bureaucrats. . . . Until we can tie some small portion of pay to it, it will never happen."

The administration's draft bill, which it is circulating on Capitol Hill, was criticized by federal employee unions. They have complained that the changes at DHS and Defense undermine employee rights and strengthen the hand of political appointees.

The proposal "is meant to erode federal pay and future retirement security for middle-class federal workers over time," said Brian DeWyngaert, chief of staff to John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

The unions get it, if not conservatives.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 19, 2005 2:42 PM

Dare we hope? Who's going to carry on his work after 2008?

Posted by: erp at July 19, 2005 4:55 PM

It's really about accountability to the President and his political appointees. The retirement system was pretty much fixed during the Reagan years.

Greater political accountability does have a down-side, but changes are long overdue. Be assured that it's not a panacea, though, for all that ails the bureaucracy. The most senior civil servants have been such a system since 1979.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 19, 2005 5:32 PM