July 17, 2002
Magda Lynn Seymour
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

AFGE Opposes NASA Human Resources Proposals

(Washington, D.C.)—“The proposals contemplated in this legislation would undermine merit system principles, exacerbate the government’s so-called ‘human capital’ crisis, and create serious conflicts of interest between private sector interests and the public good,” Mark Roth, General Counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), will tell House members. The hearing—to address draft proposals for sweeping civil service changes at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)—will take place before the House Science Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics on:

Thursday, July 18, 2002
10 a.m., Room 2318
Rayburn House Office Building

Roth will note that proposals to establish an employee exchange program between private firms and NASA raise irresolvable conflicts of interest. “Taxpayers’ interests would be best served by knowing that only federal employees, sworn to uphold the public good and work in the public interest, have access to privileged agency information and operations,” Roth will state.

In his testimony, Roth will criticize proposals that would implement bonuses-for-some, instead of an adequate-salaries-for-all approach. “Should the federal pay system reward only those willing to extort a bonus from an agency by continually threatening to leave in the middle of an important project? Or should the federal government pay adequate, competitive salaries to all its employees?” Roth will question.

“Federal agencies are not fly-by-night operations or flashes-in-the-pan. They are not here today gone tomorrow, nor do they produce technological fads with only passing relevance or utility,” Roth will emphasize. “As such, no federal agency, including NASA, should have a human resources plan that explicitly encourages constant turnover and puts no value on continuity, dedication, or career development for the incumbent workforce. Yet that is exactly the direction this draft legislation would take the agency, and in some cases, the entire federal government.”

Roth will also point out proposed language that would grant the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) the power to make permanent so-called ‘Alternative Personnel Systems’ tried out in NASA demonstration projects. “AFGE strongly opposes this attempt to allow OPM to take over the role of Congress in this way,” Roth will conclude.

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