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 Home > News & Policies > July 2002

Protecting the Homeland

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 10, 2002

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President Bush Thanks Homeland Security Workers
Federal Employees and the New Department of Homeland Security

The President believes that Federal employees are critical to the success of our mission to combat terrorism. Yet, at present, the Federal Government is not as well organized as it should be to defend America from this threat.

President Bush has proposed the most significant reorganization of government since 1947. Responsibility for homeland security is currently dispersed among more than one hundred different government organizations. The President's proposal would create a single Cabinet-level department whose primary mission is to protect our homeland.

Background on How the New Department Affects Federal Employees

The President's bill creates a broad framework that allows the new Department to retain the best aspects of the government's existing personnel systems and builds on them.

  • Federal workers transferring to the new Department will bring their current pay and benefits with them. They will enjoy the same benefits (health, retirement, life insurance, and the new long-term care insurance plan) that are available to employees today.
  • When the new Department is established, employees represented by unions will continue to be represented; their bargaining units will move with them.
  • Veterans will continue to be eligible to receive employment preference in the new Department.
  • The new Department will be bound by merit system principles: fair treatment without regard to political affiliation; equal pay for equal work; and protection for whistleblowers.

Efficiencies and Managerial Flexibility in the New Department

  • Consolidating the large number of agencies now involved in some aspect of fighting terrorism into one department will yield significant efficiencies. By eliminating duplicative and overlapping functions, employees can be freed to focus on protecting Americans on the front line.
  • Employees in the agencies that would transfer to the new Department now work under different pay systems and would bring a variety of differing employment policies that have evolved over time. The new Secretary of Homeland Security will need to have the flexibility to manage the newly formed Department with a personnel system that allows the Secretary to put the right people in the right place at the right time.
  • The goal of the new system is to attract and retain good people, pay them fairly, offer incentives for exceptional contributions and ensure accountability for individual performance