January 28, 2003
Diane S. Witiak
John Irvine
(202) 639-6419

Statement of AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage on the State of the Federal Workforce

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—President Bush has failed for a second straight year to match his policies with his rhetoric.

His Administration has said it wants to attract and retain the best talent America has to offer into federal government service. Unfortunately, Bush’s plans for the people who work everyday to inspect the meat, screen luggage, serve veterans and protect our borders is not so simple. The Administration’s policies will not achieve the stated goal and, in fact, will do the opposite.

The plans that the Administration have laid out are geared toward dismantling the civil service system, will prevent the pay structure from being competitive with the private sector, and will move knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated career federal workers from the frontlines to the growing unemployment lines.

The morale of the federal workforce hit an all-time low after Bush recently announced his plan to contract out at least 850,000 jobs over the next two years. Many of these positions will be turned over to corporations that invested heavily in campaign contributions.

America already tried Bush’s plan for the federal workforce and it did not work. Due to widespread patronage abuses in the 1800’s, the federal government created the civil service system. The civil service system, like any system, can be improved. We stand ready to improve the system to attract the workforce America needs instead of simply dismantling the civil service system and returning to the days of political patronage.

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