Federal Eye: OPM’s Berry lays out merit and pay proposals

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry spoke Monday at the Maxwell School of public affairs at Syracuse University about the future of public service and shared his ideas on the type of merit pay and performance system the federal government should adopt.

First, as he’s stated before, Berry said, “We must end the denigration of our civil servants and stop using them as political footballs.” Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized federal employees in the past, he said.

“These attacks weren’t just misguided, they were dead wrong. Civil servants are every bit as efficient as the private sector, if not more so,” Berry said. “Their integrity and their dedication are unsurpassed. And to honor their service, we have principles that cannot be compromised.”

As Berry laid out his specific proposals and ideas, he said: “I hate the term ‘human capital.’ I think it’s demeaning as a term. I think it implies that people are widgets. I don’t care how much money you have, I don’t care how much technology you have; if you don’t have the right people, you can’t build anything.”

The government needs to employ “people who can understand all aspects of our rapidly evolving economy, provide expert advice to our elected and appointed officials, and serve as cops on the beat, faithfully executing our laws to protect the American people,” he said.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

It’s nice to hear Berry coming out with both guns blazing. We need to say these things publicly…but even more compelling are the stories. Like a good stump speech, my hope is that Berry will have a few specific examples to cite when he’s speaking to the public. Never underestimate the power of story. Thanks, as always, for your great posts, Ed.

K. Scott Derrick

Ed: Good info. Berry stated that he dislikes the term “human capital,” which was mostly introduced to the federal sector by previous Comptroller General David Walker. It is interesting to see how the terminology has changed over the years…from “personnel administration” to “human resources” to “human capital.” I wonder if we’ll be moving back to using “human resources” or transitioning to something new? Any guesses?