WASHINGTON, D.C.— Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) today released the following statement on the Defense Authorization Conference Report.
“The primary goal of the federal personnel system should be the recruitment and retention of the highest quality workforce to serve the citizens of the United States. But unfortunately, the current antiquated system does not always achieve this goal. It has become too cumbersome for agencies to hire good employees, to reward outstanding workers, and to remove poor performers.
“Earlier this year, the Department of Defense delivered to Congress a far-reaching proposal to restructure the Department’s civilian personnel system. Unfortunately, its proposal went too far and did not include important provisions to protect good employees.
“To strike a better balance, I worked hard with several of my colleagues, including Senator Carl Levin and Senator George Voinovich, to craft an alternative that would give the Department of Defense the authority it needs to create a more responsive system, while providing vital protections for its civil servants.
“The language in the Defense Authorization Conference Report, while by no means perfect, is a reasonable compromise to the challenge of modernizing an outdated system while protecting employees’ rights. For example, employees subject to adverse personnel actions will have an independent appeals process, and a third party will resolve collective bargaining disputes. In addition, the final bill does not include the unilateral waiver authority sought by the Secretary, and the Department’s ability to change employee-management relations sunsets in six years.
“The Governmental Affairs Committee will closely monitor implementation of this law to ensure a collaborative process that will lead to a modern, effective, and fair personnel system.”