Rumsfeld Attacks Defense Workers

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Fri Nov 21 16:14:09 MST 2003

*****   November 21, 2003
Rumsfeld ready to restructure Defense workforce

* Defense personnel overhaul headed to President Bush   (11/12/03):
* Unions blast Defense personnel overhaul, back Homeland effort  
(11/11/03): <>
* Converted military jobs could go to contractors   (06/18/03):
* Defense should focus on procurement, civilian workforce, official says
  (02/28/03): <>

By Chris Strohm
cstrohm at

New personnel rules about to be developed and implemented at the
Pentagon will give managers the flexibility to reorganize their offices
and will help reduce the stress on uniformed and civilian forces,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday.

During a town hall-style meeting with civilian and military personnel,
Rumsfeld lauded new personnel legislation approved by Congress earlier
this month. The legislation gives Rumsfeld the authority to throw out
the General Schedule classification system and replace it with a new
pay-for-performance system.

The legislation allows Defense managers to hire highly skilled workers
more quickly, promote top employees, and fire poor ones. Defense
officials will also be able to rewrite the rules governing collective
bargaining with labor unions and establish a new internal appeals system
for employees to protest disciplinary decisions. More than 700,000
employees will be affected by the changes once they become law.

At the meeting, a civilian worker recently transferred to the Pentagon
because of a Navy reduction-in-force criticized Defense efforts to
downsize and put civilian jobs up for competition with private firms.

"With such a higher tempo, why are we continuing to commercialize or
have commercial activity studies, when I've seen studies that we're not
actually saving that great amount of money?" she asked. "Why are we
downsizing and RIFing many of the civilians?"

Rumsfeld said he was unaware of any large-scale civilian RIFs. "I don't
believe we are downsizing or RIFing so many civilians," Rumsfeld said.
"I'm just not aware of it. Sorry."

According to Rumsfeld, as many as 300,000 jobs currently performed by
uniformed military personnel could be performed by civilians or
contractors. New personnel rules will allow managers to reorganize their
offices as needed. . . .

When asked whether the Pentagon might change its policy on promotions
and forced retirements of military personnel, Rumsfeld said he believed
Defense needs flexible rules that encourage people to remain in
positions longer than they currently do. According to Rumsfeld, service
members average 18 months in a post before they are transferred or

"It's not that everybody ought to necessarily serve a longer period in a
given post, and it's not that everybody would necessarily want to stay
in the service longer," he said. "But it seems to me that we ought to
have a sufficiently flexible set of personnel rules so that people can,
if they would like to and if it's appropriate, stay somewhat longer in
their tenure."

Pentagon officials are also trying to determine if the size of the
military should be increased, and will rebalance forces by moving some
National Guard and Reserve capabilities into active duty and shifting
some active-duty capabilities to the Guard and Reserve.

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