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News Release

Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402


Washington, DC - Linda M. Springer, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, today testified before Congress on the Working for America Act - potential legislation to reform the pay and performance system that currently dictates how most federal agencies must manage their employees.

"The Working for America Act will require agencies to better manage, develop, and reward employees to better serve the American people," Springer stated. "American citizens expect the federal government to achieve results and better utilize their tax dollars. The goals of individual employees must be tied in a meaningful way to agency missions. Further, individuals deserve to know how their performance contributes to that mission."

Testifying before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Organization, Springer contended the federal personnel system needs to be reformed and cited results from the 2004 Federal Human Capital Survey. Only 27 percent of federal employees believe steps are taken to deal with poor performers, and only 29 percent believe differences in performance are recognized in a meaningful way. Springer stated: "A system that values performance and potential must also ensure accountability. The public expects it, as do federal employees."

The Working for America Act would replace the current General Schedule pay system with a system that better reflects differences in individual performance, as well as market conditions. OPM would establish a core compensation system for the federal government, defining broad groups of like occupations (such as law enforcement, or science and engineering), as well as pay bands within each group that represent clearly distinct levels of work. Market-based pay would constitute a significant portion of base pay adjustments, while the balance would be allocated on the basis of differences in individual performance.

Springer pointed out that alternative federal pay systems that include performance-based pay are not new to the federal work force. Over the past 25 years, demonstration projects covering more than 90,000 employees have shown that alternative, modern personnel systems result in improved performance and morale of federal employees. "Positive results and trends across these systems are clear," said Springer. "The lessons learned from their implementation and experiences were carefully considered in drafting the provisions of the Working for America Act."

Springer reiterated that OPM is well positioned to ensure the Working for America Act fully preserves core civil service principles when agencies are ready to implement the new system. "We recognize that agencies will look to us for guidance and assurance from implementation to certification and beyond," Springer stated. "The men and women of the federal work force can be sure of our commitment to being fully prepared to carry out those responsibilities."

Director Springer's testimony can be found at

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