Homeland Security could have new work rules

Homeland Security could have new work rules

The civil service and union bargaining rights of federal workers in the proposed Homeland Security Department, including IT professionals, could change under the administration's plans released this week.

Tom Ridge, director of the Office of Homeland Security, told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday that the secretary of the new department "would need great latitude in redeploying resources, both human and financial."

The administration seeks flexibility in hiring, pay, benefits and performance management.

The American Federation of Government Employees condemned the proposal, calling it an "attempt to destroy basic civil service standards for thousands of federal workers."

Lawmakers in both parties expressed support for the legislation, however. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) said he expects the committee to complete hearings on the bill in July so it can be passed by Sept. 11, or at the latest by the end of the year. Lieberman said federal employees' collective bargaining rights shouldn't be reduced by the legislation.

Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) said during the hearing, "We must provide funding for completely new computer and communications systems [for homeland security]. We can afford to have no less than seamless communication.'

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