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Rumsfeld vocal about personnel reform. (Washington Pulse).

Seeking to bolster his case for a broad overhaul of the Pentagon's personnel system, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that the current civil-service structure severely hampers efforts to recruit and retain talented young workers.

"Some would say [the system] is broken," he said during a June briefing at the National Press Club.

Rumsfeld was responding to a Brookings Institute survey of 1,002 graduating college seniors that found many of those students would avoid government jobs, because the hiring process is cumbersome and lengthy.

Rumsfeld said the Defense Department is ill equipped to compete with corporate recruiters who can offer students jobs, tell them what the bonuses are and when and where they can start. The government can only offer paperwork and "a promise to get back to them" in three to five months, he added.

At Rumsfeld's urging, the Bush administration has asked Congress to transform the civil service system and is proposing the creation of a new national security personnel system to manage the Pentagon's nearly 700,000 civilian employees.

Labor unions and other advocacy groups claim that doing away with decades-old civil service rules could undermine public employees by taking away workers' rights and making the system more vulnerable to cronyism.

Rumsfeld dismissed the criticism. Further, he stressed that reform is essential to the Pentagon's efforts to become more efficient by outsourcing to contractors many civilian jobs that today are performed by military personnel.

Approximately 320,000 civilian tasks today are performed by military service members, Rumsfeld said. "We are wasting the skills of military personnel on tasks civilian workers could handle."

Civil service regulations also have stymied efforts to prosecute fraud; most notably credit card abuse. The government can garnish the wages of uniformed personnel in order to collect on credit card abuse. But it can't do so with civilian workers.
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Title Annotation:Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld; civil service hiring changes
Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Previous Article:National Guard monitors pace of deployments. (Washington Pulse).
Next Article:Homeland defense chief assesses priorities. (Security Beat).

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