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5/17/2004

OPM Chief Faults Rumsfeld Plan (washingtonpost.com)

The Washington Post

Christopher Lee's Post article adopts an interesting take on the conflict between the Department of Defense and the Office of Personnel Management over the National Security Personnel System (NSPS). It turns out that the anti-labor ideologues in the OPM think the anti-labor ideologues in the Department of Defense are botching things a bit. They seem to disagree about the best way to screw federal employees.

The Post article begins by discussing this letter, from the head of OPM, Kay Cole James, to Don Rumsfeld. Read the letter. It reaks of anti-labor sentiment, and all of its criticisms are of potential DoD "tactical" mistakes in the effort to undermine unions: "Many of [the issues address in the letter] have profound tactical and strategic implications for the Department of Defense, OPM, and the Administration..."

What "strategy" is the DoD approach threatening? The comments attached to the letter clarify: The strategy to do away with a professional civil service.

"...[T]he proposed structure fails to fully utilize the flexibilities available to 'deconstruct' the GS and bring Federal occupations into better alignment with the 21st century world of work. Grouping professional, scientific, engineering and administrative occupations into th same CG and bands misses an opportunity to cluster occupations to make market sensitive pay decisions. [3]"
You see, the OPM wants to eliminate job security, while the DoD wants to establish a political patronage network; both are antithetical to a professional civil service. From the comments:
"The use of seven predetermined performance factors and assessing benchmarks that have not been validated through any job analysis process and the provision regarding competitive promotion by means of a name request contribute to the overall appearance of an effort to loosen links between merit and staffing decisions wherever possible." [11]
The Post mentions that George Nesterczuk dismissed any anti-labor bias in the NSPS. Who is Mr. Nesterczuk? He is currently the OPM liaison to the DoD. After reading his Heritage Foundation Backgrounder on establishing "flexibility" in the Department of Homeland Security, one might assume he thinks unions create a "culture of mediocrity."

Finally, the OPM frequently and strongly notes the anti-veteran bias in the DoD's proposed NSPS. It would be ironic that the OPM was reminding DoD to support veterans, if we didn't know that the civilian leadership at DoD was chock full of chicken hawks.

Ronald Ault, president of the Metal Trades Department at the AFL-CIO, gave a great speech on this at the end of March.

 

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