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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Contact: Edmund D. Byrnes
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Associate Director Testifies Before House Subcommittee on Department of Homeland Security Human Resources Regulations

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management Associate Director for Strategic Human Resources Policy Ron Sanders testified today before the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Organization of the House Committee on Government Reform on the design of the personnel system for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Sanders' testimony for the hearing, entitled "The Countdown to Completion: Implementing the New Department of Homeland Security Personnel System," began with praise for the work of Congress, DHS senior leaders, employees and union representatives and other stakeholders who were integral to the creation of the final regulations published in the Federal Register.

"We are implementing a system that we truly believe is as flexible, contemporary, and excellent as the President and the Congress envisioned," said Sanders. "It is the result of an intensely collaborative process that has taken almost two years -- and we are all quite proud of it."

The DHS personnel system is designed to create an environment that enhances recruitment, retention, and development of superior talent by recognizing and rewarding employee contributions in order to achieve the highest levels of individual performance and accountability. The new performance management system is expected to launch in the fall of 2005 with pay and classification changes implemented the following year for some employee groups.

"With the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Congress gave the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management extraordinary authority, and with it a grand trust: to work together with the Department's employees and their union representatives to establish a 21st century human resources management system that fully supports the Department's vital mission without compromising the core principles of merit and fairness that ground the federal civil service," said Sanders. "Striking the right balance, between transformation on one hand and tradition on the other, is an essential part of that trust, and we believe we have lived up to it in these final regulations."

During his testimony, Sanders focused on three of the most vital components of the new HR system established by the final regulations: performance-based pay, employee accountability, and labor-management relations. In each case, he discussed the careful and critical balance that was struck between operational imperatives and employee interests, without compromising on either mission or merit.

In closing, Sanders said: "If DHS is to be held accountable for homeland security, it must have the authority and flexibility essential to that mission. That is why Congress gave the Department and OPM approval to waive and revise the laws governing classification, pay, performance management, labor relations, adverse actions, and appeals. And that is why we have made the changes that we did. However, in so doing we believe that we have succeeded in striking a better balance - between union and employee interests on one hand, and the Department's mission imperatives on the other."

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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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