Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has unveiled an ambitious plan for transforming the Defense Department's personnel system that includes, for the nation's most senior officers, careers up to 40 years and more generous retirement plans.
Changes aimed at military personnel, however, are not the most controversial elements in a legislative package called the "Defense Transformation for the 21st Century Act." Creating greater stir is Secretary Rumsfeld's call to overhaul how more than 700,000 defense civilian employees are hired, paid, and promoted. The department seeks "sole and unreviewable discretion" for managing its civilian workforce, reducing the influence of the Office of Personnel Management and labor unions.
The package would shift 40% of all federal civilians from the rigid Civil Service System into a new performance-based National Security Personnel System that has far more flexible tools to recruit, train, compensate, evaluate, and separate employees.