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House Government Reform Committee Opens with Hearing on Commission Report

The Commission’s recommendations were the focus of House Government Reform Committee hearings on March 6, 2003. Commission Chairman Paul Volcker and Commissioners Frank Carlucci and Donna Schalala testified.

Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) used this hearing to open his agenda as the new Chairman of the Government Reform Committee. In announcing the hearing he noted that the Commission?s report “provides an excellent overview of some of the challenges we face in improving the operations of the federal government and this hearing should set the stage for much of the work this Committee will do during the 108th Congress to reform and improve the federal government.”

Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), new Chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization added: “I see the Volcker Commission report as a guidepost for Congress as we begin our journey of reforming the federal government.” Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill) noted: ?Timing is everything, and it appears that now is the time to make constructive changes to the federal civil service and how it operates.”

Commission Chairman Paul Volcker, in his testimony, testified that while the Commission’s focus was on reforms benefiting the federal workforce, “in the earliest stages of our discussions, it also became evident that better personnel practices alone would not be enough. Human resources would need to be married to new patterns of organization, providing the clarity and cohesion essential to effective performance.”

Commission Member Donna Shalala contrasted her current experience as President of the University of Miami with that of her service as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources: “To compete for the finest scientists in the world, the NIH director and I had to battle legal, regulatory, structural and bureaucratic obstacles. The Dean of my medical school [at the University of Miami], indeed every public and private medical school in this country, has more flexibility in hiring and organization than the Directors of the CDC, FDA and NIH, and yet they recruit the same people.”

Commission Member Frank Carlucci drew on his extensive public and private sector experience in telling the Committee Members that “good people can make a poor organization work for a while but it is inefficient and sooner or later they will be inclined to toss in the towel. A good organizational structure enables employees to accomplish their mission and receive the psychic rewards that brought most of us into government. A tough issue, yes, but business reorganizes constantly to keep pace with societal and economic changes. Can government afford to do less?”

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House Government Reform Committee Opens with Hearing on Commission Report

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