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of the Honorable Clay Johnson III
July 20, 2004
The Federal government is focused on results and so are its employees. The American people expect it of us. We ask ourselves if were accomplishing the desired goal, at an acceptable cost, and if the answer is no or we dont know, we do something about it.
The Federal government is adopting human capital practices that ensure a focus on results. With the help of the Presidents Management Agenda, and the Strategic Management of Human Capital initiative in particular, agencies are deploying key tools to ensure we have the right person, in the right job, at the right time, performing well. Of the agencies rated on the Executive Branch Management Scorecard, which represent almost 97 percent of the Federal civilian workforce:
Its most important that agencies are increasingly clarifying whats expected and holding employees accountable for meeting those expectations. In focus groups Ive moderated in ten different agencies, managers tell me that they welcome the improved evaluation processes, in that:
Of course, there are human capital challenges we can not overcome just by managing better or being more results oriented. When the President thought it was critical to have additional tools to overcome those challenges, he asked Congress for them. With regard to the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the Administration requested and Congress granted significant flexibility in hiring processes, compensation systems and practices, and performance management so that these Departments could recruit, retain, and develop the workforce they needed to accomplish their critical missions in the 21st century. The new personnel systems being designed and adopted by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security will work. We will make sure they do; their success is too important to our pursuit of a 21st Century workforce.
I am proud of the progress we have made in Federal human capital management in the last several years. We are left, in my opinion, with two big questions to deal with.
The first question is how personnel flexibilities should be expanded to the rest of the Federal Government. Should it be piecemeal, with confusing differences in the personnel management practices at agencies across government? Or will it be more thoughtfully extended to all agencies at once?
Clearly, I would recommend that we consider making available to the governments remaining agencies the flexibilities necessary to improve hiring processes, compensation systems and practices, and performance management so that they can recruit, retain, and develop the workforce they need to accomplish their missions. If not provided in a uniform way, it is difficult to guard against imbalances that are created when competition exists between agencies for limited talent. One thing I know for sure: its not a question of whether these flexibilities will be granted more broadly to agencies, but when.
The second question we must confront is when to most responsibly pay employees of the Federal Government. Today, we have targeted, not widespread, recruitment and retention problems in our civilian workforce, and pay surveys reveal that we are currently overpaying employees in some occupational groups in some locations. We will eventually give agencies the tools they need to target salary increases where they need them to address specific recruitment or retention needs. If we are to achieve the 21st Century workforce that the American people deserve and expect, we certainly should not grant all civilian employees the same increase no matter what the need because that wouldnt be focusing on the desired result: that would be providing too small an increase where we do have recruitment and retention problems, and too large an increase where we do not have a problem. We should be spending money where we need to, and not where we dont. We will eventually do this; we just need to decide when and in what series of steps.
If we answer these questions correctly and continue the progress of the last several years, we have the potential to achieve the 21st Century workforce we desire, not in decades, but in a handful of years. I think this enhanced focus on results will bring about the most dramatic improvement in government operations ever. Thats what the American people deserve.