The Defense Department is expected to unveil soon details
of its proposal to create a new personnel system for itself
roughly tracking the special authorities granted to the
Department of Homeland Security in hiring, performance
evaluation, job classification, pay and other areas. While
the same sense of urgency that applied to the debate over
DHS last year isn't present, officials say the DoD proposal
likely will get a serious and sympathetic hearing in
Congress. Despite a decade of downsizing, the Defense
Department remains by far the largest executive branch
agency, with about 650,000 employees in military-related
functions and another 25,000 in civil functions of the Army
Corps of Engineers. With its size, budgetary heft and clout
on Capitol Hill, DoD long has been a leader in setting trends
for federal employment policies-for example, it pioneered
the use of buyouts. However, despite years of advocating for
personnel reforms like those now being sought, DoD has been
left by the wayside as other agencies have gotten separate
personnel authorities.

If DoD's request is granted, the majority of federal employees
would be outside what is generally considered to be "standard"
civil service policies. Already outside those rules are the
IRS, with about 100,000 employees, the Federal Aviation
Administration, with about 50,000, the Department of Homeland
Security, projected to be 170,000 or above eventually, and
the Veterans Affairs Department, with about 200,000, most of
them under separate rules for employees in medical fields.
With the total federal employee population at just under 1.8
million, Capitol Hill officials have said that de facto
civil service reform is under way, even in the absence of
government-wide reforms in hiring, pay and other policies.

Fred McDuff
AFGE Legislative/Political Organizer
9601 Lakeway Circle # 6204
Ft. Worth, TX 76179
202-550-8876 (cell)
817-236-8499 (fax)