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IFPTE Submits NASA Workforce Response - Flawed Proposal Threatens NASA's Technical Excellence and Independence

Press Release From: IFPTE
Posted: Sunday, March 12, 2006

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SILVER SPRING, MD In accordance with S. 1281, The NASA Authorization Act of 2005, the International Federation of Professional Technical Engineers (IFPTE), weighed-in on the proposed NASA workforce strategy put forth by management on February 6th. The NASA Council of IFPTE Locals (NCIL), representing workers at five NASA locations throughout the United States, provided the union's response.

Noting that the workforce plan provided to Congress and the union, as was stipulated in S. 1281, failed to meet the requirements set our in the law, IFPTE nonetheless offered their provisional views on the limited details outlined in NASA's plan. Among the chief concerns outlined in the union's report were the Agency's reliance on full-cost accounting, term employees, and a flawed & incomplete competency management system. IFPTE, as is outlined in the response, believes these three factors are driving a crude downsizing of NASA's independent technical Civil Service staff and creating short-term job-shop mentality that will make it hard to retain and recruit top-notch scientists, engineers, and technical support staff. Furthermore, given that even conservative estimates of attrition will exceed management's arbitrary downsizing quotas, the continued threat of layoffs is entirely unjustified.

"We do not believe the Agency can move forward with this workforce strategy, which does not provide a clear overview of the existing skills of its workforce," the report reads. "Indeed, this workforce strategy illustrates a lack of understanding of the capabilities of the employees at the Agency."

In addressing NASA's fondness for turning to "term" employees to address their hiring needs, the report clearly states the union's belief that the agency is misusing the flexibility granted it by Congress' 2004 passage of the NASA Flexibility Act. "The term appointment flexibility granted the Agency through the NASA Flexibility Act was not intended to create a revolving door practice at NASA, which is where the Agency seems to be headed. Instead Congress intended that legislation to be the catalyst in retaining and recruiting talented personnel willing to make NASA their careers, versus the term appointments who come in one day, and are gone the next."

In closing, out of the thirteen page IFPTE response, the union concluded their response by addressing the Agency's ongoing policy of Reductions in Force (RIF). "We urge a wholesale and overt rejection of the failed workforce policies of Dr. Griffin's predecessors, including the ludicrous idea that NASA needs to RIF (or even to threaten to RIF) its technical employees while it ratchets up its technical needs."

Full text of the IFPTE response, and the February 6th NASA created workforce strategy, can be found at www.ifpte.org.

Contact: Matthew Biggs

(301) 565-9016

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