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News Release

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Contact: Chad Cowan
Tel: 202-606-2402

Statement from United States Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James on High Risk Reports on Human Capital

"Since its initial report in January 2001 placing the Strategic Management of Human Capital on the government-wide high-risk list, Comptroller David Walker and the GAO have boldly and aggressively illuminated one of the largest opportunities facing the American civil service and the Federal government at the start of the 21st Century. I applaud and fully support the decision of Comptroller Walker to maintain Human Capital on the high-risk list for 2005. The opportunity to completely reshape the Federal workforce, to recruit and retain a new generation of talented Americans and to build agency capacity in the face of massive retirement waves demand sustained and energetic leadership at the agency level. Maintaining Human Capital on the high-risk list will ensure that Federal agency executives and managers remain fully focused on President Bush's drive for demonstrated results in maintaining an effective Federal workforce.

There is no question that highly skilled and patriotic Americans, especially in the wake of 9/11, are interested and ready to serve their nation - I have seen the enthusiasm and talent of job applicants and recent hires.

Since 2001, President George Bush and leaders in the United States Congress - notably proud champions of the civil service such as Senators Collins, Voinovich, Akaka and Lieberman and Representatives Tom Davis, Danny Davis and JoAnn Davis -- have worked hard to push through long needed legislative reforms and to streamline outdated and obsolete Federal personnel processes. Nearly one million Federal employees will soon be working under contemporary human resources systems at the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. New programs such as the Federal Career Development Program (FedCDP) will help some of the outstanding talent already in government become even more effective executives for the future.

These are critical first steps to improving a personnel system that is properly rooted in proven Merit Principles and Veterans Preference. But for applicants who are qualified and who wish to serve their nation -- yet find themselves faced with vacancy announcements that require deciphering, positions that have been inappropriately been walled off to only those with previous government experience, agencies that fail to make aggressive use of the flexibilities granted to them by the Congress, managers who are poorly trained in the use of incentives and expedited hiring models and who must still wait for months for an acknowledgement or answer -- we must do more to honor their interest and commitment.

Once again, I applaud Comptroller Walker and Congressional leaders for helping keep Human Capital at the forefront and I challenge agencies to redouble their efforts to better manage the Federal government's most important resource...its people."

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