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News Release

Friday, October 03, 2003
Contact: Eldon Girdner
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM's James Praises Accomplishments of DHS Personnel System Design Team

Calls cooperation of Federal employees, managers and employee representatives during design process a model for Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The design team responsible for presenting options for creation of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) HR system, today, released its final report of 52 design options to the Senior Review Committee. Director of the Office of Personnel Management, Kay Coles James, praised the team members, "The design team has done excellent work identifying a broad range of human resource options in the areas of pay, performance, labor-management relations, discipline and appeals. This information will be invaluable as we continue the process of fulfilling our mandate to establish a world class personnel system that will best enable the Department of Homeland Security to protect America while at the same time protecting Merit System principles." The design team consists of employees and managers from DHS, technical experts from OPM and DHS and employee representatives from DHS.

The Senior Review Committee is comprised of top leaders from OPM and DHS, presidents of the three largest national employee unions represented within DHS and experts in the field of public administration who serve as technical advisors. The committee will meet publicly in late October to develop a final set of options that will be presented to Director James and Secretary Tom Ridge. The Director and Secretary will then issue proposed new personnel rules for the Department for public comment and close consultation with employee groups before final rules are issued early next year.

The design team conducted a series of meetings in 10 cities across the nation. In the cities visited, a "town hall" meeting was held with representatives from OPM, DHS and federal employee unions, followed by a robust question-and-answer session. After each town hall meeting, six smaller focus groups were conducted to gather a more detailed understanding of the concerns and suggestions of DHS employees and managers.

OPM, DHS, and union leaders repeatedly praised the cooperative working relationship fostered throughout the design process. James stated, "This process is a model for how management and labor can work together with mutual respect even though there may be real policy differences. The hallmark of any open process is to agree on a core set of principles that include civil discussion and strong relationship. I believe this process has encouraged both."

The Government Accounting Office has reviewed the process for designing the DHS HR system and has recently released the report, DHS Personnel System Design Effort Provides for Collaboration and Employee Participation, which can be found at

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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.

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