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Ensuring Successful Personnel Management in the Department of Homeland Security

NCJ Number
Beth J. Asch
Date Published
10 pages
This paper identifies the characteristics that make the human resources (HR) system in any organization effective, specifically to help ensure the success of personnel management in the Department of Homeland Security.
Now that the President and Congress are moving forward with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the new secretary must focus on building and improving the department’s human resources (HR) system. Within the design of this new system, the current civil service system must be incorporated. In addition, in order to ensure the department’s HR system is effective, the secretary must identify the characteristics required and needed. This paper draws from the management and economic literature to identify the characteristics needed in supporting organizational goals. It then discusses the available evidence on the performance of the civil service system and the future trends that will challenge the ability of the DHS to attract and retain personnel. Lastly, steps are suggested that might be taken in the near or long-term to strengthen personnel management in the DHS. Six characteristics are required for successful personnel management and include: (1) offers flexible personnel and compensation tools or policies; (2) managers have discretion over how the personnel and compensation tools are used; (3) managers have the incentive to use the personnel and compensation policies in ways that support the organization’s mission; (4) resources are available to implement and monitor those policies; (5) policies are transparent and appropriately linked to the organization’s goals; and (6) policies are stable and limit the financial and career risks that workers face. Aspects discussed regarding the civil service system include: (1) the system as being rigid and cumbersome, (2) flexibility related tools, (3) effects of flexibility related tools, (4) metrics, (5) success of civil service waiver experiments, and (6) a comparison of the civil service system to the military. In order for an HR system to be successful, it needs to make greater use of existing policies that provide flexibility and seek objective expertise, take time to develop a plan, and invest in continual system improvement. References