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OPM's Berry Deals Out First Set of Civil Service Reform Suggestions

OPM's Berry Deals Out First Set of Civil Service Reform Suggestions

OPM Director John Berry

Jason Miller | Executive Editor | FederalNewsRadio

November 03, 2009

John Berry fired the first salvo for how to “reinvigorate” and “unshackle” all aspects of federal human resources.

The director of the Office of Personnel Management laid out Monday some initial ideas about changes that he hopes could bring agency hiring, firing, recruiting and retention practices in line with other Fortune 500 companies.

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“Our hiring system is broken,” Berry tells students during a speech at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, where he graduated from in 1980. “Five decades after the last major attempt at pay reform, the cracks are showing. A significant and growing number of our employees are not in the GS pay system. This system cannot stand another three decades, let alone five. We could limp along for a few more years in the current GS system, or we can seize this moment to build something new.”

And that something new could mean getting rid of the General Schedule system, opening up bonuses of up to 30 percent to all employees-not just those in the Senior Executive Service-and make training of managers and employees the utmost priority.

Berry calls continuing education the foundation to upgrade human resources processes across the government.

“The federal government does a pathetic job with training,” Berry says. “Outside of the Defense Department, we spend next to nothing on training. It’s shameful.”

He says the government could have the greatest systems in the world, but without trained workers, the system will fail.

“Training should be both formal and ongoing,” he says. “It means taking courses at our Federal Executive Institute and at colleges and universities, but it also means instilling a culture in the office of mentoring and nurturing the up-and-coming staffers.”

Berry also says it means dedicating a percentage of the budget to training and ensuring it isn’t the first thing cut and last thing restored.

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