Defense ends conversations with unions over personnel system

Pentagon officials halted discussions with Defense Department unions Thursday, paving the way for Defense to issue final regulations implementing a new civilian personnel system.

The "meet-and-confer" discussions with union leaders were mandated by Congress and began April 18. They were extended in late May for an additional two days in June.

Mary Lacey, program executive officer for the new Defense personnel system, said in a statement, "The door is still open for additional communications and proposal submissions," and added union leaders will now have an opportunity to meet with senior leadership at Defense and the Office of Personnel Management. Lacey, her staff, and George Nesterczuk and Ronald Sanders of OPM, had led meet-and-confer sessions, but Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and the new OPM director will make the final decisions regarding the personnel system.

Lacey said the meet-and-confer discussions were productive. "DoD and OPM gained a great deal from the process and will make several recommended changes to the proposed regulations as a result of union input," she said, without specifying what those changes might be.

Union leaders, however, said the meetings had accomplished little. "I never participated in a greater exercise in futility," said American Federation of Government Employees General Counsel Mark Roth.

AFGE was the largest member of the United Defense Workers Coalition, a 35-union group that met with Defense and Office of Personnel Management leaders. Congress mandated the discussions in 2003 legislation that allowed Defense to create the new personnel system.

In preliminary regulations, released in February, Defense indicated that it planned to dispense with the decades-old General Schedule pay system in favor of one that set pay raises based on managerial evaluations of employee performance. The preliminary rules also specified that Defense would restrict collective bargaining and tighten disciplinary rules.

Unions have blasted most aspects of the plan, saying it will lead to cronyism, silence whistleblowers and hurt morale. Six unions walked out of the meet-and-confer talks late last month, protesting what they said was Defense's unwillingness to compromise.

Now that the discussions are over, Defense leaders will work with OPM to hammer out final regulations, which should be announced later this year. Then Defense will begin to implement the system unless union leaders can convince Congress to intervene.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.