Effective Government Management Will Be Vital In War on Terrorism
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
November 5, 2001
In peacetime, effective government management is very important. In a time of war, it's vital.
Success in the war against terrorism is going to require efficient use of our government resources and effective management of government personnel. Recently, I introduced legislation referred to Congress by President Bush that seeks to make our government more responsive and better equipped to effectively manage its workforce and resources.
The legislation, which includes the Freedom to Manage Act and the Managerial Flexibility Act, makes it easier for Executive Branch management to increase accountability, reduce unnecessary costs, and manage for results. The Freedom to Manage Act will help the government recruit and retain people with needed skills, increase the flexibility of federal property management, and allow agencies to budget for results. The Managerial Flexibility Act would allow other reform proposals, submitted to Congress by the President, to be considered quickly by the Congress. I will work with my colleagues on the Governmental Affairs Committee and others in the Senate to enact this important package.
Programs attempting such accountability have worked well when attempted in the past. The Navy successfully experimented with performance-oriented pay for more than a decade. However, the authority for them to extend that program or make it permanent, or for other agencies to experiment with similar programs, required special authorizing legislation. The Managerial Flexibility Act allows a successful demonstration project, such as the Navy's, to be made permanent and available for other agencies to adopt in the future.
Federal managers complain that the federal hiring process takes too long and is too complicated, often preventing them from hiring the most qualified candidates. This legislation would allow them to hire the most qualified individuals as quickly and efficiently as possible by using alternative ranking and selection procedures while maintaining veterans' preferences. As with the Navy example above, this undertaking was successfully implemented for over a decade, by the Department of Agriculture.
One of the greatest challenges to effective management involves outdated and ineffective laws. This legislative package would call on agency heads to identify such laws and Congress would be required to consider repealing them quickly.
At a time when our national security is being tested as it has never been before, this legislation allows the Department of Defense to best manage its personnel. In January 2001, the General Accounting Office reported that the Defense Department, like other federal agencies, continues to face difficulties in hiring and retaining the people it needs to accomplish its mission. With shortages in intelligence analysts and computer programmers, our intelligence gathering capabilities are stretched to the limit. We must grant the Defense Department the flexibility it needs to hire and retain those individuals essential to protecting American interests.
Portions of our government have suffered from a lack of quality management for some time and we're now reaping the harvest for a lot of it, especially in regard to our national security. There has never been a more crucial time to reform the management of our federal government and the legislation we're pursuing is a strong step in that direction.
For more information on this column and other issues, visit my web site at http://web.archive.org/web/20020626124250/http://thompson.senate.gov/.
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