In response to questions from Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, Ridge elaborated on the department's plans for a new personnel system. He said Homeland Security planned to gradually implement a pay-for-performance compensation system, beginning with a pilot program that would start near the end of fiscal 2005.
"I believe we are looking at a small pool of employees to test the system for a year, and an additional $2.5 million has been allocated for that," he said.
The system, to be outlined in rules published in the Federal Register, is the result of a nine-month process during which Homeland Security officials, staffers from the Office of Personnel Management and federal union leaders developed a set of options. The design team presented their findings to Ridge and OPM Director Kay Coles James in October.
All told, the Bush budget requests $133.5 million to implement the personnel system, including funds to train homeland security managers on how to use it. Ridge said few agencies have used a pay-for-performance system before.
"One of the challenges we've had is there is really no prototype for the government. We haven't been down that path before," he said.
Ridge added that the training funds would also be used to educate employees on how the new system works.