Chu, England Discuss New Civilian System in Open Letter
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2004 A letter signed by Defense Department leaders asks DoD civilian employees to be patient as teams work to make the new National Security Personnel System a reality.
The April 1 letter, signed by Defense Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu and Navy Secretary Gordon England, stresses that DoD sees the new personnel system as a collaborative effort.
The system, passed as part of the fiscal 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, allows DoD to transform the civilian personnel system to make it more agile and responsive.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the new system would make it easier for the department to make new hires and keep highly skilled employees. It also would allow DoD to move workers to shortage specialties as national security concerns change, he said.
In the letter Chu and England state, "We are determined to take the time necessary to do the job right." Taking time will allow the department to consult with employees, managers and unions, a DoD spokeswoman said. The Chu/England letter encourages all those interested in the system to present their thoughts, ideas, views and concerns.
The department also is working with other government agencies as it develops the new system. DoD officials are consulting with the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget and the Government Accounting Office as the new system takes shape. It also is taking lessons from the Department of Homeland Security, which built its own personnel system after it was formed last year.
DoD has teams working to define system now. The DoD spokeswoman said five teams are looking at process, personnel, programs, requirements and communications. A sixth team will serve to draw recommendations from these five together in one package. That proposal is scheduled to be presented to Rumsfeld and other senior leaders some time this month.
Once it's approved in DoD, senior leaders will work with Congress on implementing the system.
Chu and England said in the letter that the system still is being formed. Few details about how the system would work are available, because there is no system yet, officials said. Concepts and proposals will change over time, the two men pointed out in their letter, and they promised the department will do its best to keep employees informed.
Information will be available on the Defense Department and DefendAmerica Web sites, the Pentagon Channel and local commanders' television programs. The new system also has its own Web site.