What's Good For The Military . . .

What's Good For The Military . . .
May 11th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: What's Good For The Military . . .

What's Good For The Military . . .
Washington Post
May 11, 2007
Pg. D4
Federal Diary

By Stephen Barr
The 2008 pay raise appears to be taking shape.
The House Armed Services Committee included a 3.5 percent raise for the military in the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill, and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the House majority leader, announced he will urge other House leaders to provide an equal increase for civil service employees.
Government salaries are a pillar of the local economy -- the civil service payroll is about $76 million a day in the Washington area. In addition, some companies and nonprofit organizations take their cues from the government when setting salaries.
Hoyer applauded the committee's decision and signaled that he would, as he has in past years, pull together a bipartisan group of Washington-area House members to push for a similar raise for the civil service.
"The 3.5 percent pay adjustment should also extend to federal civilian employees," Hoyer said in a statement. "Civilian employees perform a vital role in our national security" and, he added, "they too deserve a fair pay adjustment."
Last week, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) urged the House Appropriations Committee to maintain parity in pay raises for the civil service and the military. This week, Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, reiterated his support of pay parity in a statement lauding Public Service Recognition Week.
The House committee recommendation is higher than the 3 percent raise that President Bush proposed in his budget. His raise would cover civil service and military personnel.
The committee approved the defense bill on a 58 to 0 vote Wednesday night. In addition to the raise for the military, it would consolidate 60 military bonus and incentive payments into eight broad categories to help the Pentagon improve the administration of its pay system. The bill also would prohibit an increase in fees for service members and retirees who use Tricare, the military's health insurance program.
The committee also revised the job competition process, known as competitive sourcing, or A-76, for the Defense Department. But one change would apply to all federal employees, giving them the right to appeal contracting-out decisions, much as companies may.
The bill also would repeal certain parts of the National Security Personnel System, which the Pentagon is rolling out in phases. It would require Defense to follow regular civil service law when bargaining with unions and to provide employees with access to an independent process for appealing major disciplinary actions. The bill would allow unions to be involved in the development of new pay rules and practices that affect rank-and-file Defense employees.
There is a good deal of uncertainty over whether all the proposals will be endorsed in the Senate and sent to the president. Bush has threatened to veto the House bill authorizing programs for fiscal 2008 at the Department of Homeland Security because of provisions that would stop an overhaul of personnel rules there.
The department had sought to curb bargaining rights and streamline the disciplinary appeals process, prompting a lawsuit from unions. Courts have stopped those changes, and the House bill would go a step further by taking away DHS's authority to create a new pay-for-performance system.
The House approved the Homeland Security bill on a 296 to 126 vote Wednesday. The bill includes a provision that would grant law-enforcement status for purposes of determining retirement benefits to certain Customs and Border Protection officers. The administration has objected, citing the cost of providing more attractive retirement benefits.
Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said the veto threat "shows that this administration is willing to put its animosity toward fair treatment for workers over the interest of national security."
John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said his union will work to ensure that the Senate includes limits on efforts to contract out federal jobs at Defense and elsewhere in the government.

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