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Big Career Changes Coming at You

Big Career Changes Coming at You

Mike Causey | Federal News Radio

November 23, 2009

Imagine working for an outfit with a 3-step rank-in-person system instead of 15 grades. A system where outstanding employees could be rewarded, big time, and losers could be punished financially (maybe losing annual leave) and, if necessary fired quickly without red tape and endless appeals.

Imagine that if the boss proposed to fire you, you could demand a trial, complete with a jury of your peers, which would have to make a ruling within 4-weeks. And that jury would have the power to fire the boss instead of you.

Imagine an outfit where instead of hundreds of job classifications, pay grades and longevity steps within those grades, workers were put in three categories: Apprentice, Journeyman and Expert.

During some, most or even all of their time in the apprentice phase, poor performers could be let go without fanfare. Most would make it to the Journeyman level. Some, after regular reviews done by boards made up of peers, union reps and outsiders, could be promoted to the Expert level. In addition to performance, promotions and pay raises would be based on professional growth, outside activities and in-house mentoring.

All of the above, and a lot more, are under serious, as in very serious, consideration by the Obama administration. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry has just outlined some of the things that are under review. Experts from dozens of federal agencies, on detail for 90-days, are working on a comprehensive package that will be sent to Congress early next year. Some of the changes could be done administratively, such as streamlined hiring procedures. Others would require congressional approval.

Berry said the changes, radical in some cases, are not meant to reorganize or reinvent the government. Rather, he told the Human Capital Management Forum, the idea is to re-energize the federal government.

Berry clearly has the President’s attention. Mr. Obama personally called Berry, a one-time top aide to Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to take over the Office of Personnel Management. At the time Berry was the happy head of the National Zoo – maybe the best job in government. He didn’t want to leave. But you don’t say no to a call like that.

To demonstrate that he has clout in power-conscious Washington, the President has taken Berry to two Cabinet meetings. The idea, clearly, was to let Department heads know that Berry is “the” man when it comes to job and system changes.

You can read the official transcript of what Berry said by clicking here.

Here are some of the major changes being considered for the federal workforce:

  • * Eliminate the GS system replacing it with the apprentice, journeyman and expert categories.
  • * Individuals would have rank, similar to the military and foreign service, that they would keep (and could advance in) regardless of how many people they supervised or the size of their program.
  • * Feds would each (in consultation with their boss) agree there were three “must do” tasks or assignments before them, as well as three “nice to do things.” Accomplishing the first three would be mandatory. Doing five or six would make the individual a candidate for substantial bonuses or pay raises.
  • * Punish employees, after notification they need to improve, by denying them pay raises and, possibly, even cutting back the amount of annual leave available to them.

Berry told the conference that the government’s problem isn’t its workers, but the antiquated job rules they must work under.

Whether you approve of, or are horrified by, the proposed changes, odds are many of them will be approved.

So fasten your seat belts and smile!

Read more at:

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    Im sure they will substitute certain people into higher classes. But that isn’t the point they are making. Entry level, to learn this would be good. Nothing is better than on job training, especially with a mentor type. As we used to say, you don’t want to be green long. Pending on the managers and recruitments for reviews. The one not interested are layed off or removed which leaves the ones truly interested into the position.

    As it is now,. BS degree 4 years of instruction then you are allowed to work or show your interests. No one takes you on to help you succeed either you know the material or you don’t. (KSA)

  • Pic12_-_copy_max50


    about 5 years ago


    I think this sounds ok, but what happens to those of us whom come into a federal government law enforcement slot with college degrees and experience????? because normally we come in at a higher pay grade than an apprentice or beginning pay scales and this would make it unfair to us to have to come in at a apprentice paygrade, and it may not even be worth the hastle.......especially when you have to pay back all that college tuition money you spent to go to college just to get these high paying jobs............

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    Why are vets so great? Just because you wore a uniform and carried a gun doesn't mean you're qualified for a job. I agree that something needs to be done to improve performance, but can the managers manage to evaluate performance fairly?

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    This certainly sounds good!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    I am in total agreement with the proposed changes!!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    I think the government should get rid of Managers who are incompetent, discriminate.

  • Front_view_-_goetz_2009_max50


    about 5 years ago


    There are several good ideas in how to improve the wage structure. However, it's all in the execution. Concerns would be how local managers handle their employees. If it's an "old boy" network, then look out - there will be lots of mismangement of these rules. Only if people can have useful performance metrics can they be more objectively critiqued by their supervisors.

  • Me2_max50


    about 5 years ago


    As long as the "need to improve" is in writing, some counseling is done to help that person before just firing them. Often this can also be abused, especially by power hungry bosses or those in league with other employees against someone else. My last job had no sort of coaching, the goals were those of the managers so when we completed them, they looked good, but be we had no individual goals. Other than that it sounds good. I agree too, hire Veterans...I've been trying but can't seem to make it past the initial stages.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    Please, just hire Vets. Put us to work. Most of us have more experience adapting to new challenges, fitting into new cultures and work place environments, and accomplishing our assigned task in addition to numerous community service task. Three questions to ask a vet - what was your speciality? Tell me about the significant accomplishments you contributed to your speciality. What other task did you accomplish in addition to your speciality.

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