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Press Release


Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group Applauds New Job Rules for Homeland Security Department

For Immediate Release January 27, 2005

(Alexandria, VA) -- The new personnel procedures at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will save tax dollars and help conscientious workers succeed: that's the assessment of the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

"While DHS employees can and should have the protection of certain labor laws like whistleblower rights, there is no reason why inefficient and antiquated Civil Service rules should stand in the way of giving Americans the sound government they deserve," said NTU Economic Policy Analyst Tad DeHaven. "Our nation's newest cabinet department is an ideal place to begin reforming the overly-rigid personnel structure of the federal government, one that has failed taxpayers as well as federal employees who believe in the meaning of the words, 'merit system.'"

Since the 1970's NTU has advocated Civil Service reforms that would more properly balance the government workplace environment with accountability, rewards for high performance rather than simple tenure, and flexible rules that encourage innovation. More recently, in 2002 a NTU study documented the political dimensions of this issue, by linking campaign contributions from federal employee unions to efforts in Congress on behalf of union members.

"The unions want the status quo: labor contracts that dictate which duties specific workers can perform, a cumbersome process for disciplining or firing incompetent workers, and a rigid pay system based on automatic rather than merit-based raises," DeHaven said. "In contrast, the management rules outlined today build upon the common-sense principles that the Administration originally sought when the Department of Homeland Security was created."

According to DeHaven, it is now incumbent upon Congress to extend these reforms to the Transportation Security Administration -- which by law will not be included in the new system -- as well as other federal agencies.

Although NTU has long supported reform of federal workforce structures, the group has also strongly advocated whistleblower protections in all government agencies. In the 108th Congress, NTU fervently backed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which in a recent letter to lawmakers the group described as a "key element of any early warning system to detect patterns of fiscally-irresponsible spending."

"It is time to allow managers to more easily reward and promote good employees over those who cannot or will not get the job done," DeHaven concluded. "America's fiscal and physical well-being may depend on these provisions."

NTU is a non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, less wasteful spending, and more accountable government. Note: NTU Issue Brief 139, Homeland Insecurity: Why Are Some Members of Congress Putting Government Unions Ahead of the American People?, along with NTU's letter in support of enhanced whistleblower protections, is available online at www.ntu.org.

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