Spending bill trims $5 million more from DHS personnel system

A spending measure approved earlier this week in the House would reduce by another $5 million the fiscal 2007 appropriation for the Homeland Security Department's new personnel system.

The action comes four months after lawmakers withheld millions from the system, known as MaxHR, under the fiscal 2007 Homeland Security appropriations bill approved in late September. That measure allotted $25 million to MaxHR, far less than the $71.5 million requested in the president's budget and the $29.7 million Congress apportioned for 2006.

The $463.5 billion spending measure House members passed Wednesday (H.J. RES. 20) is not focused on DHS - rather it is intended to fund the operations of domestic agencies for which Congress failed to approve appropriations bills last session. But it contains language that would reduce DHS' spending on MaxHR to $20 million, shaving $5 million off the level in the department's appropriations bill.

The personnel system, authorized by Congress in 2002 when it created DHS, would feature a market- and performance-based pay approach to replace the decades-old General Schedule under which most civil servants work.

But labor unions have strongly contested implementation of MaxHR, claiming it will encourage cronyism and result in salary cuts in the long term. National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley recently called the system "fundamentally flawed," saying it threatens national security and causes dangerously low morale among front-line employees.

NTEU worked with Congress to reduce spending for the system, and on Thursday praised lawmakers' recent action.

"This cut sends a clear message that Congress is not pleased with DHS' approach to personnel management," Kelley said. "I hope this action, coupled with the department's dismal results from the Office of Personnel Management employee survey, will serve as a wake-up call that DHS has been moving in the wrong direction in managing its most valuable asset -- its employees."

A court case brought by NTEU and other labor unions concluded in June when a panel of judges said the proposed labor relations portion of the personnel system gave too much power to department management and did not provide adequate collective bargaining rights for employees. In September, the solicitor general's office passed up the chance to reverse the ruling in the Supreme Court. Without labor reforms, DHS has been unable to bring its unionized employees into the human resources system.

DHS budget documents indicate that the requested $41.8 million increase from fiscal 2006 would have been used in part to create 29 positions, including six spots on the Homeland Security Labor Relations Board, which would take the place of the Federal Labor Relations Authority in adjudicating labor-management disputes. The additional funding also would have gone toward centralizing human resources functions and hiring, placement and training initiatives, budget documents show.

"Money for personnel can be better spent on vital mission-critical priorities," Kelley said. "In Customs and Border Protection, there is a serious need for more staffing, more training and more resources."

DHS did not return calls seeking comment. Cuts to a similar system, the Defense Department's National Security Personnel System, also were made in September, but additional cuts for the program were not made in the continuing resolution. A case involving the legalities of Defense's proposed labor relations system is currently under appeal.

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

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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