The Coalition for Effective Change (CEC), which is made up of 34
organizations with a combined membership of more than 600,000,
celebrated its 15th anniversary on June 22, 2009. The CEC came
together in 1993 to provide a voice for executives, managers, and
professionals in programs to reform the federal government. Policy
papers developed by CEC are available on its website
The 15th anniversary was celebrated with a forum in which
management and federal employee labor organizations collaborated on
how to improve civil service performance. The forum was organized
by Joe Mancias of the Executive Networking Forum. The event began
with CEC Chairperson Roz Kleeman noting that the CEC is unique in
having lasted 15 years.
Kleeman also noted that a major accomplishment of CEC was helping
to persuade the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to
confirm in Part 251 of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations that
management organizations have the right to meet with agency
management. Some agencies have been slow to recognize this, and CEC
continues to encourage OPM to periodically remind agencies of this
In 1993, management and professional organizations wanted to ensure
that their views would be heard as well. John Sturdivant, then
president of the American Federation of Government Employees
(AFGE), agreed that management organizations would have to organize
to be heard, and he supported their addition to the new National
Partnership Council (NPC). Both the Senior Executives Association
(SEA) and the Federal Managers Association (FMA) were given seats
on the NPC as representatives for all management and professional
The Stars are Coming Togetherto Reform the Civil
The current OPM Director, John Berry, delivered the keynote address
at 15th anniversary celebration and heartily endorsed CEC and labor
organizations for working together to improve the civil service.
He said that a new executive order on labor-management partnerships
would be forthcoming soon and declared, The stars are coming
together to give us an opportunity to make the first significant
reform since passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1979.
He noted that the President and the Congress both support good
government initiatives and described public service as something
worthy of the publics support. Government, he said, is doing a
great job, but many employees will be retiring and we need to hire
more good people.
In the near future, Berry pledged to recreate an SES office at OPM
to work on executive issues. He called for reform of the General
Schedulethe more than 50-year-old pay and classification system
that no longer covers half of the workforce and has failed to close
the pay gap with the private sector.
Berry also called for a renewed emphasis on training for federal
employees and indicated agencies need to work with OPM to simplify
and speed up the hiring processspecifically dropping the use of
lengthy knowledge, skill, and ability essays and substituting the
use of rsums, as is done in the private sector.
He added that he is working together with the U.S. Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) on these hiring initiatives, which were
described in the June 11, 2009, Memorandum for Heads of Departments
and Agencies M-09-20. Berry confirmed his support for hiring
initiatives in his own June 18, 2009, Memorandum for Heads of
Departments and Agencies.
Berry asked for CEC and labor support for OPMs long- and short-term
initiatives, particularly the development of an effective
pay-for-performance system. He wants to bring together the best and
the brightest people in a conference September 2009 to address how
the federal government can become a model employer.
The conference will be co-chaired by former Maryland Senator Paul
Sarbanes; Laszlo Bock, vice president for People Operations at
Google; and David Elwood, dean of the Kennedy School of Government
at Harvard. He wants an open conference in which interested
management organizations and unions come together to share their
best ideas for a model government pay-for-performance system and
also to identify avoidable missteps.
Berry added that we still need a merit system to help put the right
people, with the right skills, in the right jobs at the right time.
Following the conference, he envisions the administration preparing
a model pay reform proposal to be submitted with the 2011 budget in
For the long term, Berry said he has three goals. First, he wants
to improve diversity of employees in the federal service, saying
that the federal government lags in the hiring of minorities. Next,
he wants to reform the civil service pay system now prescribed by
Title 5, in an effort to close the pay gap and make government more
appealing to job seekers.
Finally, Berry wants to improve the Federal Employees Health
Benefits Program to make better use of its buying power to hold
down increases in health care costs.
Labor-Management Collaboration Works
The program also offered two panels of management and labor
leaders. The first panel, Working CollaborationA Retrospective,
discussed successful management and labor collaboration in prior
years. Panel members included Bob Tobias, distinguished adjunct
professor, American University; Colleen Kelley, president, National
Treasury Employees Union (NTEU); and Darryl Perkinson, president,
Professor Tobias is a resident government management expert at
American University. He noted that federal government is facing
several major issuesthe economy, health care reform, and othersand
that we need commitment from every federal employee to effectively
implement new government policies that are coming.
Tobias said that 80 percent of federal employees eligible to be
represented are represented by unions and expressed hope that the
Obama Administration will issue an Executive Order on a
labor-management partnership similar to Executive Order 12871 that
President Clinton issued in 1993 and President George W. Bush
Under the earlier partnership order, he said, Managers and
employees successfully worked together to improve government
productivity. Tobias added that management and employee
collaboration lowers cost and speeds up the change process.
Colleen Kelley told the audience, NTEU wants agencies to be
successful just as agencies do. She added, Frontline employees have
excellent ideas to improve performance. She too expressed hope that
the Obama Administration will support a renewed Executive Order on
Kelley said that NTEU collaborated well with former U.S. Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rossotti to implement
IRS reorganization and continues to work in partnership with IRS
despite the rescinding of the earlier order. She added that NTEU
has also collaborated with the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation to improve its pay-for-performance system. More
information about these NTEU success stories may be found on NTEUs
We need to learn from history and include management and employees
in agency decision-making, said Darryl Perkinson, adding that the
government needs a bottom-up approach to identify problems in the
workplace and examine how to improve performance.
Feds do great work and we need to tell the story to the American
people, said Perkinson, who detailed his views about Feds doing
great work as Silent Patriots in a Federal Times article on May 5,
All three panelists called for a renewed emphasis on the need for
management training and on how to improve performance, not just how
to handle problem employees. They agreed that we need to give
managers tools for collaboration.
The panelists also agreed that government labor-management
relations specialists must work to solve problems, not just teach
managers how to talk to the union. In addition, they called for
participation of HR and EEO officials in labor-management
Moving Forward with Labor-Management Partnerships
The second panel discussed The Changing Workplace
EnvironmentForward Together in an Obama Administration. Panel
members included Bill Bransford, SEA general counsel; Brian
DeWyngaert, chief of staff, AFGE; Lisa McGlasson, senior advisor to
the deputy associate director for Workforce Relations and
Accountability Policy, OPM; and Shelby Hallmark, chairman, SEA
Board of Directors.
Members of the second panel agreed that it was likely that
labor-management partnerships would receive renewed emphasis in the
Obama Administration. Collectively, they saw partnership as a way
to make more effective use of agency human capital and make
government work better.
Engaging the Workforce
Shelby Hallmark spoke about the need to engage the workforce to
change the workplace environment. The workforce, he said, wants to
apply its talents, but the governments systems sometimes get in the
wayJust as healthcare services are better and cheaper when medical
providers work in concert to support the health of the patient,
pursuing partnership will make delivery of government services a
team sport and yield better outcomes.
Brian DeWyngaert told the audience it is important to involve
operational managers in partnership discussions along with union
leaders. He described the previous administration as being bent on
getting rid of the merit-based civil service system and civil
servants, and commended unions for saving both.
Unions, he said, want government to operate effectively, but too
many managers prefer command and control and dont support
partnership or true engagement. However, he added, great managers
recognize that partnership actually helps management engage their
workforce and get the work done more effectively.
DeWyngaert also observed that too many labor relations specialists
were promoted for opposing unions and keeping them from engaging
with operational managers preventing better decision making and
problem solving. Those labor relations specialists are standing in
the way of effective management.
What we need, he said, is to change the role of the labor relations
specialists away from advocacy for management to labor-management
relations brokers who help facilitate the dialogue between
operational managers and union representatives.
Also, they should consider establishing a top-level
labor-management position in each agency to focus on the engagement
of its union representatives, since 75 percent of the eligible
workforce is represented by unions. This would fill a current
high-level management voidlike the chief human capital officers did
DeWyngaert cited the U.S. Mint and the U.S. Department of Veteran
Affairs as agencies that made partnership work in the Clinton
Administration. Following the CEC Forum, DeWyngaert posted a blog
on labor-management partnerships on the Internet.
Labor-Management Relations Culture
Lisa McGlasson agreed that while there are people in agency labor
management relations who are resistant to change, managers and
employees need to discuss mutual interests and not wait for a
collective bargaining mandate. True partnership and collaboration
worksit is a relationship. McGlasson called for changing the
labor-management relations culture
through training to make it a more positive force. She added that
lots of great work is being done in government and we need to talk
more about it.
More information about OPMs work to promote effective labor
management relations may be found on the OPM website.
Bill Bransford pointed to pay-for-performance as a major issue for
labor-management partnership in the Obama Administration. He
identified the National Security Performance System as on its way
out and said it would be a challenge to keep employees happy while
transitioning to a new system.
Bransford urged that federal employee pay should be based on
performance, not on longevity. He cited the SES pay system as an
example of a credible pay-for-performance system that recognizes
both individual and organizational performance.
More information about the SES pay system and how it differs from
the General Schedule pay system may be found on the SEA website.
Labor-Management Partnerships Make Government Work
The panelists concluded that managers need to let their employees
help them manage well. We all want government to work better, they
agreed, and we need to involve all stakeholders to ensure we have