Civil Service Facts

Personnel Flexibilities

The following authorities, which are available generally throughout the government, would be particularly useful to the new Secretary of Homeland Security in integrating and reorganizing the new agencies transferred into the Department ?

?                      Demoting and firing poor performers ? Federal agencies can demote and fire employees who perform poorly.  Under civil service statutes, an agency must grant the employee a reasonable time to improve performance, after which the agency owes the employee 30 days? advance notice of a decision to demote or fire.  The employee has due process rights in case the agency acted arbitrarily.

?                      Reassignment ? Existing law generally allows the Secretary to move employees around in the department, either by permanent reassignment or temporary detail.

?                      Recruitment and retention bonuses ? Existing law also allows the Secretary to offer recruitment bonuses or special salary rates if necessary for recruitment of high-quality employees, as well as retention bonuses.

?                      Critical pay levels ? The Secretary of Homeland Security can offer specially high rates of pay when necessary to sustain recruitment or retention efforts, or to attract highly expert professionals.

?                      Temporary use of help services ?The Secretary can make use of commercial help services for temporary personnel completely outside of the civil service system when there is a critical need.

?                      Performance bonuses ? Agencies may give cash bonuses, as well as raises, as a reward for superior performance.

Flexibilities provided government-wide by the Voinovich/Akaka amendment to Homeland Security bill passed out of Governmental Affairs Committee

?                      Direct hiring authority ? allows agencies to hire whomever they want, without going through a competitive hiring process, if OPM determines there is a critical hiring need.  This authority will expedite and simplify the hiring of critical personnel by the new Department.

?                      Simplified hiring ? for routine hiring, improves outdated competitive-hiring procedures to speed up and improve the selection and hiring of new employees.

?                      Early retirement / retirement bonuses ? called ?workforce shaping tools,? these authorities will help DHS strategically staff the organization with employees who possess the skills and abilities needed to respond to shifting priorities and needs.

?                      Performance bonuses ? will help DHS retain superior senior managers by revising outdated rules that require that bonuses be spread over two years.

Responses to Ari Fleischer?s quotes on Thursday

In explaining Bush?s objections to the Homeland Security bill that passed out of the Governmental Affairs Committee Thursday, July 25, 2002 , Ari Fleisher was wrong about current civil service rules, which provide far more flexibility than he said.

Prompt suspension and firing in the interests of national security

Ari Fleischer: ?If a Border Patrol agent is found to be intoxicated, and lets a potential terrorist into the country, he or she cannot be fired without a written 30-day notice and must be paid during that notice period.?

Response:  A Border Patrol agent may be removed from the post and suspended immediately without pay, if the agency head considers that action necessary in the interests of national security.  Then, after an investigation and review, the agency can fire the employee with no appeal.  The President may grant this authority to any agency head to suspend and fire employees in the interest of national security, including the new Department of Homeland Security.

Pay raises for high performers

Ari Fleischer: Bush wants managers to have the authority to give homeland security employees salary increases as merited.  Under current rules, pay raises must go through a cumbersome process that can take months or years.

Response:  Not true.  Civil service statutes and regulations do not require any process, cumbersome or otherwise, that agencies must follow in granting their employees raises for high performance.  President Bush and the new Department of Homeland Security are free to fashion as fast and streamlined a process for giving merit raises as they can.