Lankford Subcommittee Examines Federal Workforce Challenges For 21st Century

WASHINGTON, DC – The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, under the chairmanship of Senator James Lankford (R-OK), today held a hearing to examine the federal government’s ability to recruit and retain a modernized federal workforce that can meet 21st century demands. The hearing, entitled “21st Century Ideas for the 20th Century Federal Civil Service,” was the first subcommittee hearing of this year on federal workforce issues.

The hearing focused on challenges in recruitment and retention of qualified federal employees; effective performance management; compensation under the General Schedule system; and an efficient dismissal process that upholds principles of fairness and due process.

“Senator Heitkamp and I are deeply appreciative of the work of the federal civil service,” said Lankford. “Ensuring that agencies have processes in place to efficiently recruit, retain, compensate, train, and if necessary, dismiss problem federal employees is a difficult but essential task. The stakes here are high, and our responsibility in Congress is clear, because we rely on federal employees to run the government as we know it. It is time we think critically about many of the policies that currently govern the federal workforce, so that we can maintain a talented pool of employees in the years and decades ahead.” 

Notable Witness Comments From The Hearing:

Patricia Niehaus, National President of the Federal Managers Association said, “The federal civil service should be the model employer that other employers want to emulate… This hearing is an important step toward determining what Congress can and should do to restore the faith in the men and women who make up the federal workforce and ensure that missions are met as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

The Honorable Dan Blair, President and CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, and former Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman and former Office of Personnel Management Deputy Director said, “I would suggest that any private sector entity operating with a nearly 40-year old personnel system and a nearly 70-year old pay system would likely be out of business today.”

J. David Cox, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees said, “There are several challenges that the government workforce will face in the 21st century. First, agencies will need to attract dynamic and well-qualified federal employees, including young people, into the ranks of public service. It will need to do this while much of the expertise in government is on the verge of retiring and in an environment where government salaries are stagnating. Second, government needs to retain qualified employees in an era where there is increasing competition for qualified workers and private companies are outpacing government salaries. Paying federals workers adequately is paramount to solving recruitment and retention challenges. Finally, government must rise to the challenge of managing an increasingly diverse workforce.”

Yvonne Jones, Director of Strategic Issues for the U.S. Government Accountability Office said, “GAO designated strategic human capital management as a government-wide, high-risk area in 2001. Since then, important progress has been made. However, retirements and the potential loss of leadership and institutional knowledge, coupled with fiscal pressures, underscore the importance of a strategic and efficient approach to acquiring and retaining individuals with needed critical skills. As a result, strategic human capital management remains a high-risk area.”


For video of Lankford’s opening statement CLICK HERE and for Q&A CLICK HERE. For hearing material and full hearing video CLICK HERE.