Glenn Mahone/Bob Jacobs
January 28, 2004
NASA Work Force Flexibility Act Ready For President's Consideration
A landmark bill giving NASA greater flexibility to restructure and revitalize its work force cleared its final major hurdle today after being passed by the U.S. House. The NASA Work Force Flexibility Act of 2003 (S. 610, H.R. 1085) will be presented for the President's consideration. The U.S. Senate passed it in November.
Sponsored by U.S. Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), the NASA Work Force Flexibility Act of 2003 builds on existing law. Among other reforms, it provides the agency additional tools to address the challenges of the 21st century. It provides NASA the ability to improve recruitment and retention, and to compete with the private sector.
"I appreciate Chairman Voinovich's and Chairman Boehlert's support in introducing this important legislation, and the consideration and support we received in both houses of Congress," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. "Within five years, more than a quarter of the NASA work force will be eligible to retire. This bill gives us the flexibility we need to recruit, retain and reward a new generation of engineers, scientists and managers vital to the future success of this agency. "
The legislation also establishes a Scholarship for Service, which provides financial assistance to science and engineering students in exchange for a commitment to work for NASA. "Students enrolling in engineering, mathematics and other important fields have been declining for many years because we haven't been able to get them excited about contributing to America's technology future," added Administrator O'Keefe. "This measure allows us to better meet the President's new vision for exploration by providing better flexibility to enhance and shape our work force to meet the challenges of tomorrow."
The General Accounting Office has continued to rank "strengthening human capital" as one of NASA's top management challenges. The agency's over-60 Science and Engineering work force outnumbers its under-30 employees by nearly 3-to-1. The potential departure of these individuals represents a dramatic loss of knowledge, experience and leadership.
The bill adheres to existing merit principles, veterans' preference and equal employment opportunity guidelines, as well as supports the rights of labor organizations. NASA involved its unions, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) in pursuing this important legislation. Last year, the IFPTE, NASA's largest union, endorsed the measure.
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