By Cheryl Bolen
Top and bottom performing federal employees are the targets of a new initiative that will be launched in President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget set for release Feb. 12.
“Taking on the new mantra of hiring the best, and firing the worst, we’re creating a culture of excellence to enable higher performance,” said a statement by the Office of Management and Budget.
To assist the federal workforce, the president’s budget proposes $80.6 billion in IT funding, including $15 billion for cybersecurity. This represents a 5.2 percent and 4.1 percent increase, respectively, from the FY 2017 budget.
The budget also will include $210 million for the Technology Modernization Fund that is designed to retire antiquated IT systems across government and transition agencies to more modern IT platforms, the statement said.
During his 2018 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump asked for Congress’s help in fulfilling his vision for the federal workforce.
“I call on Congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people,” the president said.
The administration is seeking to develop a “workforce for the 21st century” that is more flexible and responsive, said senior officials from OMB, who spoke to reporters anonymously Feb. 8 to preview that portion of the president’s budget.
As part of the president’s management agenda, OMB is looking at what is needed to manage the federal workforce so it can best meet the needs of American citizens, one official said.
The president’s management agenda spans his first term in office, so for the next three years officials will be trying to make these transitions, the official said.
“There is a commitment to making this change happen in a way that’s right, not only for the workers, but also for the American people and the taxpayers, and that’s the journey we’re starting on,” the official said.
It also must be done in a bipartisan way, which is the only way it will happen, the official said.
The president’s budget will propose authorizing a “workforce fund” specifically to be used to incentivize and retain high performers in critical fields across the government, another official said.
Officials declined to give the dollar amount of the workforce fund that will be included in the president’s budget.
Another feature of the budget will be scaling back the current tenure-based promotion system and using the savings for performance-based awards, such as bonuses, one-time awards, or merit-based step increases, an official said.
The proposal would effectively shift the window required to go from Step 1 to Step 10 from 18 years in the current system to 27 years, which is estimated to save more than $10 billion over 10 years, the official said.
There are many jobs in government where the compensation is significantly below market value, or total compensation including benefits is above market, the official said.
“So we want to move towards a more targeted, less across-the-board type of approach to compensation,” the official said.
Much of what the administration is contemplating will require legislation. However, there are areas where there is administrative discretion, or where regulation can be changed, the official said.
“There have been no major changes to the core civil service structure in about 40 years,” said one official. Now, in the digital millennium, the government needs to look at performance management in a strategic way.
This means more nimble hiring practices, rewarding and retaining the best employees, and managing lower-performers “appropriately,” the official said.
Agencies also need the flexibility to align workers to the new jobs of the 21st century through “re-skilling” and redeployment, the official said.
There are a number of places in government where it is difficult to find appropriate skills, including data science, IT, cybersecurity, and law enforcement, the official said.
OMB still has much studying to do, including analyzing the gap between the skills the government has and what it needs, the official said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Cheryl Bolen in Washington, D.C. at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2018 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)