NASIn re: the endeavor to streamline NASA's bloated & jealously parasitic bureaucracy:

Relevant articles (and occasional commentary) on this subject...
(along with what we think NASAWatch.COM's reaction would be if injected with a healthy dose of truth serum) article:  "President Bush and his Texas comrades have succeeded in doing what no one else could in 120 years of civil service. They have ended the deal. New personnel regulations at the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense will dramatically change the way 860,000 workers there are paid, promoted, demoted and disciplined. The plan is to spread the changes throughout all the land of federal government. No more automatic raises. No more simple pass-fail evaluations. No more Job for Life. The unions have taken it on the lip. While the pay-for-performance changes won't take effect until 2009, workers are getting anxious. They don't know what their life will look like. And knowing what life would look like, after all, was always the point."

NASAWatch.INFO: Why can't this article be fair and balanced?  It laments how civil service reforms could discourage folks from passing up the chance to work in a major accounting firm instead of the IRS, but ignores how a flat tax (like more competitive prize offerings) would make such tax-leeching and unpredictability-inducing jobs unnecessary.  It mourns the upcoming reduction in government "worker" volunteers for events like after school PTA gatherings, while ignoring  how ordinary people have to miss such events because they must work harder and longer hours to give half of their annual earnings to the government.  It claims that the current system protects taxpayers from political favoritism while ignoring how the vast majority of these career-protected bureaucrats have allegiance to the same political party (the Democrats), and they leak timely news and dole out tax-funded contracts to universities and media outlets (etcetera) with similar political leanings.   So what can be said in the Washington Post's purported defense when critics call it the Washington Compost?   

 (NASAWatch.COM: "I sure hope the bureaucrats win their lawsuit to thwart these legal reforms!"). article: "A new White House management reform proposal would create a commission able to shut down unnecessary and wasteful U.S. government programs...Congress would have to approve the creation of a commission to review every federal program according to an agreed upon timetable and recommend whether a program should be retained, curtailed, merged with similar programs or eliminated all together. Programs recommended for termination would be shut down unless the Congress reauthorized them."

NASAWatch.INFO: Can anyone name a single NASA program that couldn't be better administered through the government's awarding of adequate competitive prizes to space entrepreneurs?  

 (NASAWatch.COM: "Don't even suggest that space entrepreneurs' lack of success in space over the years has had anything at all to do with bureaucrats' jealousy & impudence!  My bureaucrat allies and their Congressional pork partners are still smarting from your annoying analysis of what bureaucrats did to force privatized Mir's deorbiting in 2001. Who cares if bureaucrats and ordinary government contractors have achieved remarkably little in space these past 30 years.  Doesn't that merely prove that they deserve to receive even more of your tax dollars?"). article: "The largest federal employee union will work to defeat President Bush in November after endorsing presumptive Democratic nominee John F. Kerry last week. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which has 210,000 dues-paying members, said the Massachusetts  senator would help turn back the Republican's efforts to revamp federal pay and personnel systems and open up more federal work to private contractors.  Kerry, who has voted with the AFGE 88 percent of the time during his Senate career, also opposes private accounts in Social Security...The IFPTE, with 40,000 members in the Defense Department and NASA, typically makes no endorsement, but it broke with that tradition because "this administration has been so anti-labor, particularly when it comes to federal employees," said Matthew S. Biggs, an IFPTE spokesman."

NASAWatch.INFO: So for more of the same at NASA, all one had to do was vote for whom the bureaucrats endorsed... article: "The Office of Management and Budget will ask agencies to create multi-year plans for opening federal jobs to private sector competition as a prerequisite for receiving a "green" rating in competitive sourcing, according to a senior Bush administration official.  The plans, which will require agencies to subject a certain number of jobs to private competition over the next several years, will give OMB a tool to determine whether agencies deserve the top rating in competitive sourcing, OMB Deputy Director for Management Clay Johnson said in an interview with Government Executive."

NASAWatch.INFO: Must things really proceed this slowly?   What's stopping the Administration from pushing as hard for long overdue competitive sourcing as it did for its internationally unpopular quest for "weapons of mass destruction" and, ahem, petroleum contracts for Halliburton?   Presumably it doesn't matter that the USA's foreign trade deficit (like its national debt) have recently reached record high levels, because international opinion of us somehow doesn't matter either?  

(NASAWatch.COM: "Keep on soft-pedaling!!!  I have allies to protect in the NASA bureaucracy and also within its pet contractor clique, so that they can keep on viewing my sponsored websites at taxpayers' expense, and leaking national secrets to me for my own personal gain while subverting possible attempts to officially ban access to my sponsored websites.")

Previously... article: "Are the 180,000 civil service employees at the Department of Homeland Security facing dramatic changes in how they are paid, promoted and disciplined? Or will they end up in a personnel system not that much different from their current ones? The first glimpse of possible answers will begin to play out today as Bush administration officials and federal union leaders start sorting through 52 options affecting pay rates, job classifications, performance appraisals, disciplinary actions, appeal rights and labor/management relations. The three days of meetings, at a K Street Masonic temple known for its multicolored terra cotta facade, will be watched closely by a number of federal agencies, including the Defense Department, which is urging Congress to give it more leeway in how it sets pay and workplace rules." article: "The Bush administration has announced that it will no longer require federal agencies to meet government-wide quotas as part of the president's drive to open up more government work to private contractors... The administration has said that 850,000 federal jobs -- out of a civilian federal workforce of 1.8 million -- are "commercial" in nature and could be performed by nongovernment workers. Bush says forcing many of those workers to compete with the private sector for their jobs promotes efficiency, even if the positions ultimately stay in-house."

NASAWatch.INFO: What does the Bush Administration get in exchange for cow-towing to civil service labor union leaders in this way? Maybe a reduced amount of political pressure regarding the lack of weapons of mass distraction in Iraq even as the company that made Dick Cheney a multi-millionare got exclusive rights to lucrative Iraqi oil contracts?  Has anyone forgotten how the Bush Administration also peculiarly ignored its own "competitive sourcing" mantra regarding the murderous Space Shuttle monopoly that shares so many of our tax dollars with brother Jeb's state of Florida?  

Previously: "Four business and advocacy groups, led by the National Taxpayers Union, recently kicked off an effort to persuade members of Congress to support Bush's  [competitive sourcing] plan. In an open letter to lawmakers, the groups said the initiative will save money and help agencies be more effective. The other groups are Americans for Tax Reform, the Reason Foundation and MAU Inc., a business that provides temporary and contract workers."

On December 20th, 2002, NBC's Tonight Show starring Jay Leno portrayed Jay saying that President Bush recently agreed to pay federal government employees a full day's salary for a half a day's work on Christmas Eve.  Jay said "[t]hat's fine.  After all, why should Christmas Eve day be any different from any other day for government employees?"
On June 18th, 2002, NBC's Tonight Show starring Jay Leno portrayed Jay mentioning the government employed forest worker out in Colorado who accidentally set off the worst fire in state history  while burning a letter from her estranged husband.   Jay asked "Isn't that ironic?  A government "worker" actually getting rid of deadwood."   There was considerable laughter among the taxpaying audience.

Also... article: "A former U.S. Forest Service employee was sentenced to six years in prison Friday for setting the biggest wildfire in Colorado history, a blaze last summer that destroyed more than 130 homes...and one business, causing an estimated $13 million in damage. Barton, whose job included spotting illegal fires, first told authorities that she smelled smoke and discovered the fire while patrolling a forest on June 8. Later, she told investigators she accidentally started the blaze while burning a letter from her estranged husband. Investigators believe she started the fire deliberately. The Forest Service fired Barton after her arrest." article: "The Senate Thursday passed a $390 billion fiscal 2003 omnibus appropriations package that includes a 4.1 percent pay increase for civilian federal employees this year...In its fiscal 2003 budget last February, the Bush administration proposed a 2.6 percent raise for civilian federal workers."

NASA Watch.INFO: Wasn't inflation around 2% last year, if that high? Have the bureaucrats been so productive that they've earned such an exorbitant raise while most in the private sector feel lucky to even have jobs with which they must nevertheless pay taxes to subsidize the bureaucrats' parasitism?  

(NASAWatch.COM: "Oh just shush!!! Can't you keep quiet until all of Congress finally affirms this civil service pork initiative? I have allies to protect, so they can keep on viewing my sponsored websites at taxpayers' expense, and leaking national secrets to me for my own personal gain.") article: "When Linda Chavez's odyssey took her to Washington, there were more lessons to learn — the hard way — about double dealing and double crossing. This book should be especially eye-opening for young people who are constantly being told how wonderful "public service" is. "The federal government was not at all what I expected," Ms. Chavez said. "Nothing — and almost no one — worked." " article: "If you think times are tough now, it's a good thing you weren't around 70 years ago in 1932 when the nation struggled through the worst year of the Great Depression. ...New York state's legislature convened in special session to extend financial relief to the nation's largest city. But it did so by cutting the salaries of city government workers."

NASAWatch.INFO: Isn't it shocking what federal government bureaucrats have opportunistically tried to do nowadays in order to avoid having to endure the consequences of the troubled economy that they have nevertheless imposed on us?  Have you read our analysis of what they did to privatized Mir? article: "More than one-third of federal employees who took part in a [recent] government-wide survey said they were considering leaving their jobs...Survey results are available at:"

NASAWatch.INFO: When competitive prizes are offered as a means of achieving goals, numerous meaningful private sector jobs emerge for those who prefer producing over merely collecting a paycheck at taxpayers' expense while our record high $6.4 trillion dollar national debt grows even more.  So why isn't the federal government offering far more competitive prizes, and why isn't NASA offering any? article: the Bush Administration is pursuing significant federal workforce overhauls at the Dept. of Defense and at NASA (etc.).

Previously... article:  "The Bush administration laid down a big marker today that could ripple through half of the federal workforce...Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Angela B. Styles, OMB's procurement policy chief, announced an overhaul of the rules that determine whether federal work should remain in-house or be turned over to the private sector.  "For quality service at the best price, competition beats monopoly every time," Daniels said...He also acknowledged that the Bush administration's effort to run federal-private competitions has a long way to go. "I think it has proceeded too slowly and needs to accelerate," he said....President Bush and Daniels have called upon agencies to develop plans to open up eventually jobs held by 850,000 federal employees -- nearly half of the government -- to competition with the private sector. That push for "competitive sourcing" has roiled employees across the government. There were strong disagreements on what the administration's changes mean.  [But the new policy] grows out of an Eisenhower administration policy that said the government should not compete against its citizens and that agencies should obtain as many services as possible from industry."

NASAWatch.INFO: It means that at least some bureaucrats may have to get real jobs for a change. Can you imagine that? To see more regarding how bureaucrats have kept our space program so mediocre for decades, please feel free to click here.

Washington Times commentary: "The era of Big Government is over," Bill Clinton assured us. Although the welfare state has lost some of its legitimacy, the federal government is still too large and overbearing. Unlike big corporations, the federal government has the coercive power to confiscate our earnings and control our lives. Over the past few decades, the expansion of government has led to a diminished sense of freedom and personal responsibility. We must continue to work to limit the size of government. Ronald Reagan's dictum remains pertinent: Big government is not the solution; big government is the problem."

NASAWatch.INFO: Have you ever noticed how the tax-leeching bureaucrats conveniently "confuse" the words "national debt" with "national deficit"?   They do this to try and suggest that the Clinton years were so prosperous, budget-wise.  Now then, have you had the chance to see how speechless they become when confronted with this sort of website which shows how the national debt only grew during that era (as it continues to do)?   How can they criticize deficit spending so adamantly when it's the only downward pressure on an otherwise increasingly parasitic federal bureaucracy?
      To learn more about President Bush's endeavor to reform the notoriously inefficient  & corrupt federal civil service so that it will finally be less cumbersome to fire more of the deadweight  & opportunistic bureaucrats at NASA and elsewhere, please click

AIAA interview with NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe: "[W]e’ve got a lot of folks staring at the eligibility for retirement in the next 3-5 years, about a third of the workforce."

NASAWatch.INFO: We have to wait THAT long to shed those excess, tax-subsidized jobs which the private sector could arguably replace (and even increase upon) quite promptly if only NASA finally started funding space prizes?   Isn't our record high $6.2 trillion dollar national debt already high enough? Where, other than in the (fallen) Soviet Union, do career guarantees exist like those "workers" still often parasitically enjoy at NASA? 

Washington Times article: "The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has fired 17 workers who spent several hours a day surfing Internet porn sites...The positions of the fired workers will not be refilled. Mr. Shucet said that their positions are not necessary if they could spend so much time surfing non-work-related sites."

NASAWatch.INFO: How is it that such tax-leeches can be swiftly fired at the state level but NOT if they work for the federal government?  Meanwhile our national debt predictably just hit another all time high.   By the way, we're actually in favor of bureaucrats' being able to take occasional breaks online, or to read websites that are relevant to their industry even on government time.  But the impunity pervading the federal government in so many different ways is unmatched at the state level...and with good reason. article: "[In a 127 page staff report] A Senate panel criticizes the Securities and Exchange Commission  for its passive approach to rooting out financial fraud and rebukes credit-rating agencies for failing to act as watchdogs....The SEC did not review any of Enron's financial statements after 1997 and did not monitor Enron's compliance with special accounting treatment it permitted the company to use, the report said."

NASAWatch.INFO: How is it that this same Senate simultaneously claims  to believe that  bureaucrats' career protections [which almost nobody else in the job world gets] are so worthy of preserving even now in the information age that the Homeland Security Agency's creation is worth holding up over this lone issue?  Unions' campaign contribution$, perhaps?  Meanwhile, what is being done to find out which NASA bureaucrats are most at fault for the supposedly accidental  (but definitely self-enriching) multi-billion dollar ISS cost overruns  Unsurprisingly, though, our national debt predictably just hit another all time high but we don't hear much about it from spendthrift Washington or the sponsorship-seeking, newsleaks-coveting media.

(NASAWatch.COM: "What does any of this have to do with space policy?   Absolutely nothing.   You'll never see ME link to that national debt website, or even call attention to how government spending should be trimmed.  My business plan doesn't allow for it.")

Washington Times article: "Extensive exit-poll surveys conducted by Voter News Service since 1980 have repeatedly confirmed that Republican House candidates consistently receive between 35 and 40 percent of the vote from union households.  With the DNC experiencing a nosedive in direct-mail contributions during August and September, Mr. McAuliffe will simply have to rely on Big Labor bosses, who will be only too happy to funnel their members' dues into Democratic Party coffers. If the past is any guide, this gambit will take the usual soft-money route..."To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors," Thomas Jefferson argued, "is sinful and tyrannical."

Washington Times article: "The AFL-CIO poured about $33 million into the 2001-2002 election cycle on top of that being spent by its 65 affiliated unions, many of which have their own political budgets and programs... The[ir] effort [also] includes work-site leafleting, mailers, phone banks and knocking on doors."

NASAWatch.INFO: Ah, special interests' disproportionate influence on opportunists in Washington D.C.  And some people think that federal civil service reform has been evasive simply because it's somehow supposed to be an unwise idea?

Washington Times article: "The Postal Service yesterday said the move to cut 500 jobs in Arkansas [was] not a politically motivated decision to hurt Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson's re-election

Previously: U.S. News & World Report 's Washington Whispers article: A Democratic executive of the U.S. Postal Service abruptly quit last Friday amid allegations that she used the federal mail budget to hurt the re-election chances of Arkansas Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson. Sources allege that Deborah Willhite, the Postal Service's top lobbyist, pushed to have the budget for Arkansas post offices cut–and Hutchinson blamed [for the loss of jobs].  The money was to be transferred to Georgia's post offices, allowing supporters there to credit Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who's in his own tough re-election battle. Senate Republican leader Trent Lott caught wind of the deal making and demanded the resignation of Willhite, an Arkansan who has donated to Hutchinson's opponent and to Cleland.

NASAWatch.INFO: Most bureaucrats are Democrats, usually because pro-big government policies keep them financially comfortable.   They have the nerve to complain when Republican governmental officials endorse political candidates on their own time, even as bureaucrats waste tax dollars for their own benefit on government time (as well as their own).   Why the double standard?   Those who would deny that NASA bureaucrats don't try to favor Democrat candidates should be reminded of how the latest ISS major cost over-runs and the X-33 program termination were conveniently timed for very soon AFTER the 2000 presidential election. Why were those scandals hidden while they thought Al Gore still hada a chance of winning?

(NASAWatch.COM: "Because bureaucracy is for your own good, and especially for my own.   After all, bureaucrats leak national secrets to me so I can seem knowledgeable.   Meanwhile, because they have so much tax-subsidized freetime they can also generate potentially lucrative pageviews on my (now merely sporadically sponsored) websites.   They also help keep access to my "soap opera digest of space" website from being banned either on tax-subsidized computers, or those of bloated government contractors.   So don't expect me to offer significant coverage of politically motivated bureaucratic improprieties.") article: "The [White House's] Office of Personnel Management does not direct agencies to find ways to preserve the institutional memory of retiring managers, said Michael Orenstein, an OPM spokesman...At NASA, officials are training their knowledge preservation efforts on people like Martin Davis...Davis has been to four of the NASA-sponsored storytelling sessions, known as the Master's Forum for Project Managers. About 60 people -- a mixture of old hands and young guns plus a dozen or so people from outside the agency -- attend...[They] try to pass on the knowledge that some of us have gained through the years in some fashion that's more likely to get across than just writing out a bunch of 'lessons learned.' We do that, too, but who the hell reads them?" ...  The national master's forums have been so successful that NASA is replicating the model on a smaller scale through workshops at its regional centers...Davis, for one, says he has no plans to retire soon."

NASA Watch.INFO: Does this not resemble wasteful sinecure-preservation at taxpayers' expense?  In truly commercial industries such as the personal computer one, are such "historian" posts even needed?   Shareholders & consumers won't pay for them at companies, and yet taxpayers must pay for them in the bloated NASA bureaucracy despite our record high $6.4 trillion dollar national debt? article: "Though the Bush administration announced last week that it would limit the 2003 federal civilian pay raise to 3.1 percent, union leaders said Monday they will continue to fight for a 4.1 percent raise. [They're still rather impossible to fire, by the way]. In a statement released Monday, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md. said he plans to push for a 4.1 percent pay increase in the 2003 Treasury-Postal Service Appropriations bill or to try and add one to an omnibus bill. However, President Bush says that granting a pay raise larger than 3.1 percent would jeopardize homeland security efforts. Nevertheless, Hoyer says that this latest move by President Bush sends the wrong message to federal employees. “Anything less than the 4.1 percent pay adjustment sends the regrettable message that the services they provide to America every day are not valued,” he said.      “The president's decision is further evidence of the administration's low regard for the professionalism and dedication of the federal workforce, and for the vital services provided to the nation by federal employees,” says National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley. “Even more than that, however, this mistaken and unwise decision completely ignores the critical role pay plays in making the federal government a competitive employer with the private sector. Members of the 107th Congress clearly understood that, as evidenced by the bipartisan and bicameral support for a 4.1 percent raise in 2003.”

NASA Watch.INFO:  If the federal government shut down again like it did in 1995, how much would we really miss it?  Shouldn't many of the tax leeches' funds instead go towards paying down our record high $6.3 trillion dollar national debt article: "Federal civilian workers won't see the full pay raise they were promised with President Bush's announcement that he was cutting the planned salary hikes because of the war on terrorism. The workers were to have received an average increase of 18.6 percent, but will now get a 3.1 percent raise. "Full statutory civilian pay increases in 2003 would interfere with our nation's ability to pursue the war on terrorism," Bush said in a letter released Friday to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and President of the Senate, Vice President Dick Cheney...."Should the need arise, the government has many compensation tools, such as recruitment bonuses, retention allowances and special salary rates, to maintain the high-quality workforce that serves our nation so very well," Bush said... But advocates for federal workers disagreed. "This is just another slap at federal employees," Bobby L. Harnage Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 600,000 federal workers, told the Associated Press. The Bush administration says "they want to recruit the best and the brightest, but they can't even keep the best and the brightest in those jobs now." Earlier this month, the administration announced it wants to let private companies compete for up to half of the 1.8 million federal jobs. Also, Bush sought and won broad powers to hire, fire and move civil service-protected workers in 22 agencies being merged into the new Homeland Security Department."

NASA Watch.INFO: Can you believe the hypocrisy of that civil service labor union's director?  If the bureaucrats really wanted talented competitors to be able to join their ranks, they'd not require that it take at least half a year just to get to hire somebody new who could compete for their "jobs" [i.e. sinecures].   Everybody in the real world's lucky to get any raise at all, assuming they even get to keep their jobs while we continue enduring the consequences of the bureaucrats' having jealously sabotaged the private space industry's potential progress over the years.  And yet bureaucrats still have career tenure even as practically nobody else does?

(NASAWatch.COM: "Don't mess with my livelihood, reformers.  Bureaucrats give me potentially sponsored pageviews, government contract-related favors, and national secrets-oriented gossip for me to publish.   All I have to do in exchange is offer them protection however I can." 

New York article: "Bobby L. Harnage Sr., the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, a union representing 600,000 federal workers, said Mr. Bush had "declared all-out war on federal employees."..."This administration is selling the federal government at bargain basement prices to their corporate friends, who then make campaign contributions back," Mr. Harnage said. "This is not about saving money, it's about moving money to the private sector."...[Meanwhile, the Brookings Institute's] Mr. Light said firm evidence of savings in the long run was sketchy, in part because private contractors sometimes won the business with low bids and then pushed their prices up after the government work force has been disbanded. Union officials also cited what they called horror stories of contractors who performed poorly or got into legal or financial trouble after taking over government jobs. Last spring, for example, the Education Department's inspector general concluded that a contractor had improperly kept for itself $6.6 million in student loan interest payments it had collected."

NASA Watch.INFO: Why not implement Newt Gingrich's idea of publicly funded competitive prizes as a means of procurement?

AP news article: "President Bush plans to subject as many as 850,000 federal jobs to competition from the private sector, administration officials said, a sweeping reform long sought by Republicans and stiffly opposed by labor unions. Nearly half of the government's civilian work force could be affected by the plan to be published in the Federal Register on Friday. After a 30-day public review period, Bush can impose the new rules without congressional approval."

NASA Watch.INFO: Not a bad start, even if this outsourcing will unfortunately take a while to implement and focus more on replacing merely lower level bureaucrats.   Nevertheless, thanks to recent campaign finance reforms, labor unions can no longer subvert the democratic process of long overdue government improvements nearly as much as they have in the past.  Stay tuned for more breakthroughs (hopefully).

Washington article:  "Most people on the outside of government, looking in, will say that when they have to contact a government agency — from the Internal Revenue Service to the local Department of Motor Vehicles — they would prefer to visit the dentist. On a recent visit to a Cabinet-level department, I found the halls filled with people who did not appear to be working. Partially overheard conversations were about break time, vacations, sick leave and other benefits. Upon entering an office, I saw one employee doing her nails and another engaged in what appeared to be a personal phone call. There did not appear to be a working attitude, much less a working employee, in the place. My tax dollars are paying their salaries, and so I care how they are being spent."
USA article:
"From faulty parts for the International Space Station to the theft of moon rocks, the nation's cash-thin space agency was defrauded dozens of times over the last year by contractors — and sometimes by its own employees, investigative reports show.  Some of the problems discovered by NASA's inspector general office involved faulty parts, improper repairs and fake test results that could endanger the safety of astronauts and others, the internal watchdog said."

NASAWatch.INFO: Disappointingly, that article doesn't get into how NASA bureaucrats profit from letting such improprieties take place though.  They get rewarded with anything ranging from lucrative job offers, to kickback$, to more aggressive political support for wasteful tax-subsidized projects that keep them employed.   To find out why it's presently still hard to get rid of such bureaucrats, though, feel free to click here.  And to find out why the media typically looks in the other direction, please feel free to click here. article: "The Senate ended a months-long standoff over the homeland security bill yesterday, passing legislation to reorganize into one central department most of the federal agencies that defend the nation's borders and interior...A standoff about the collective-bargaining rights of workers in the new department stalled the bill. Stumping in state after state in the final weeks of the campaign, Mr. Bush accused the Democrats of valuing the political support of labor unions over national security, and several incumbent Democratic lawmakers — including Sens. Jean Carnahan of Missouri and Max Cleland of Georgia — were defeated."
Perhaps Senator Daschle would care to answer that question about why civil service demands have delayed our creating a Homeland Security Agency?

Why SHOULD we bureaucrats have to look for REAL jobs?

"Perhaps Senator Daschle would care to answer
that question about why civil servants' demands
have been allowed to trump the creation of a 
Homeland Security Agency for all these months?"
"Why SHOULD we bureaucrats have to look for
a real job?   We add value to the taxpayers' lives,
and could make far more in the private sector.  
Where?   That's none of your business." article: "The White House won over key Senate Democrats Tuesday, reaching a deal to approve long-stalled legislation to create a mammoth new department of homeland security....On Tuesday, moderate Democratic senators John Breaux of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island agreed to a measure that would give Bush much of what he seeks but would also give unions some say over proposed changes to workforce rules. The new bill also would allow federal mediators to handle disputes." article: " The president's proposed legislation calls for the creation of an umbrella department to combine more than 100 federal agencies from 22 departments, including the Border Patrol, Secret Service and Coast Guard." article: "The White House made modest concessions. Government unions, for example, would get a bigger role than Bush originally wanted in handling disputes over work rules and a limit on collective bargaining waivers. Unions would have 30 days to respond to proposed work rule changes. If no agreement is reached, the department would have to send a letter to Congress explaining the dispute, which would allow for congressional protests Another 30 days would be allowed for mediation. But in the end, the department could implement changes it saw fit. The department would have to issue findings in writing before bargaining rights could be waived, and waivers would be limited to four years, allowing for review by a new administration.  The proposal drew a sharp dissent from the American Federation of Government Employees, the large union of federal workers. "The American public needs to know that the president's so-called compromise . . . is a Trojan horse," said union President Bobby L. Harnage. "It has nothing to do with improving security. All it does is strip federal workers of the right to defend themselves in the workplace." "

NASAWatch.INFO: Haven't the tax-leeching bureaucrats stripped the USA of global economic competitiveness for decades, and not just in the space industry?

Washington Times article: Over the weekend, the Republican National Committee took an internal poll that showed that Republicans were trusted over Democrats by eight points on the economy.   Meanwhile, no Republican president has ever gained net seats in the House in their first midterm. And no president from either party has ever won back the Senate in a midterm. Both happened on November 5th, 2002.   Besides homeland security, the Republican wish list is topped by tax breaks and defining an energy policy. article: "In a conference call early this (Nov. 6th, 2002) morning, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said the first priority for the lame-duck session of Congress that begins next week should be passage of legislation creating a Cabinet-level Homeland Security Department."

Washington article: "[President] Bush is demanding -- and the House has approved -- powers to rearrange the federal bureaucracy in ways not seen since Congress passed the Pendleton Act in 1883...If Senate Democrats go along, Bush could get rid of the 15-grade structure of the federal personnel system, in which promotions are based more on seniority than performance.  President Bush would conceivably use a merit-based system that the Defense Department has developed. Once that was implemented at the Homeland Security Department, the Pentagon could demand a similar arrangement, creating a domino effect that could release all 1.8 million federal workers from [the cumbersome and self-perpetuating bureaucracy of] government personnel rules." article: "Unions are raising the domino theory: If the White House can create a new personnel system for the Homeland Security department, eliminating long-standing work procedures, other federal departments could follow, including the biggest of them all, the Defense Department, with about 600,000 civilian employees.  By providing Democrats with both money and troops on the ground, unions serve as the party's single most important political ally, and lawmakers are loath to cross them just weeks before critical elections. Labor ranks near the top of the Democrats' list of contributors, with $50 million in donations in this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By contrast, unions gave just over $4 million to Republicans during the same period...  
       White House officials said it now takes an average of five months to hire a federal employee. They want to be able to bypass certain hiring rules and speed up the process. The White House said the current system rewards nearly all employees regardless of merit. Only 619 federal workers were denied pay increases last year because of their performance, they said. They want the ability to build in performance incentives. Bush wants the ability to move workers from one part of the department to another to meet rapidly changing needs. Labor leaders said that could open the door to arbitrary transfers on the whim of management. White House officials said that it often takes 18 months or longer to fire errant employees. Only 434 federal workers were dismissed for poor performance last year. Too many appeals prolong the process, they said. Congress has given some of the same flexibility to other departments but never on the scale now being sought. "

NASAWatch.INFO:  Unspun.INFO offers a tracking of legislative bills which the House has passed but which Senator Daschle "held hostage."  These could soon be passed in the Senate during the "not-so-lameduck session" which we will have prior to January, after Senator Talent replaces Senator Carnahan later in November...  Of greatest relevance to NASA: the long overdue civil service reform that would be sparked by the Homeland Security Agency bill's possible approval.  

(NASAWatch.COM: "Dangitall!  If bureaucrats suddenly have to better justify their tax-leeching existence, then who in the Heck will subsequently have time to generate potentially sponsored pageviews for my web properties, and spread gossip to me so that I can publish it and thereby personally profit?  How could I subsequently continue furthering my own agenda in ways that benefit business affiliates such as the one currently directing the floundering [and predictably statist] Space Transportation Association?  Good luck Lieberman & Hillary, for my wallet's & ego's sake!")

Daily Press (article) "Governmentwide, agencies are now deciding which jobs private contractors could do.   Five percent of those posts - an estimated 42,500 jobs - are expected to be put up for competition by September of 2002. Another 10 percent is expected to be up for bid by the end of fiscal 2003. Ultimately, half of those jobs are expected to be up for competition....Historically, the government saves 20 percent to 50 percent when federal and private companies compete...The private contractors might hire the displaced workers to perform the duties.  If nothing else, NASA hopes to be able to move workers to different duties within NASA if private firms bring in their own staffs."

NASAWatch.INFO: Didn't socialism and "make-work" programs go out with the Berlin Wall?  Do we not have a record high $6 trillion dollar national debt for younger generations to repay, even as baby boomers retire in droves in a little over half a decade?   Will such paradoxical favoritism towards tax-subsidized bureaucrats survive union contributions-curtailing campaign finance reform, which takes effect in mid-November of 2002?

(NASAWatch.COM: "Debt, schmebt!!!  Bureaucrats are good for my business plan!"  

  Washington Post article: The U.S. House of Representatives approves a 4.1% pay raise for federal bureaucrats even though the inflation rate was much lower.  The bureaucrats nevertheless complain that it's less than the 4.6% that they were given last year, and also less than what they claim the private sector would supposedly award them.

NASAWatch.INFO:  Curiously enough, notice how they won't move over to the private sector though? Meanwhile, with campaign finance reform now underway, just how much clout will the civil service labor unions have with vote-conscious federal politicians who currently still protect their members' tax-subsidized sinecures despite our record high $6 trillion dollar national debt?
      Incidentally, the military also received a 4% pay increase at least this year, which is similarly well above inflation levels.   Was this mainly due to the war on terrorism, or the problems that Republican president Dwight Eisenhower mentioned in his famous  
farewell address?   

Washington article: "The State Department official who was forced to retire because her office allowed most of the September 11 hijackers into the United States has recently won an "outstanding performance" award of $15,000...  The congressional General Accounting Office said in a report this week that 13 of the 19 hijackers were given visas without ever seeing a U.S. consular official...Last summer, reports of lax visa rules for Saudis — who could apply for visas over the Internet with no questions asked — prompted Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to force Miss Ryan to retire...Thomas Furey, who was consul-general in the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and helped establish the "Visa Express," also received a bonus....[State Department spokesman Richard] Boucher, when asked whether the bonus was appropriate, accused the reporter of "attacking friends of mine, people who dedicate their lives to their government and their country — my friends."  Mr. Boucher, who also received a bonus, refused to comment on the individual merits of each bonus. The awards list was compiled this summer by the 2002 Senior Foreign Service Selection Board. The State Department official would not describe the criteria on which the awards were made. "

NASAWatch.INFO: Gotta love 'em (because we sure can't fire 'em, yet...).

Washington article: "A former Pentagon agency director and his top aide were charged yesterday with extortion and bribery for allegedly demanding payoffs, prostitutes and expensive watches in exchange for government contracts. Robert L. Neal Jr. headed the Defense Department's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization from 1996 to June 2001, and Francis D. Jones Jr. was his executive assistant. In a 52-page affidavit unsealed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria yesterday, federal agents said the two men instructed contractors to make payments to companies friendly to Neal and Jones to obtain or maintain lucrative federal jobs. The money would then be laundered through a sham company or a secret trust in the small principality of Liechtenstein, the affidavit said... The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization was created to help small and minority businesses obtain defense contracts. The office awards few contracts, but it exerts influence within the Pentagon, officials said... The office also directly controlled $28 million annually for the Mentor-Protege Program, in which small businesses find a large Defense Department contractor to serve as a partner and receive both training and contracts. One small business in the program told investigators that in 1997 and 1998, Neal and Jones demanded several payments of $8,000 to $15,000, "or they would take certain adverse actions or cease taking helpful actions" for the participant's company, according to Stroot's affidavit."

Washington Times article: "According to the affidavit, Mr. Neal and Mr. Jones, both of whom are black, engaged in a wide range of criminal activities during their tenure at the Pentagon, using their positions as leverage to receive illegal extortion payments, bribes and gratuities from minority or disadvantaged Defense Department contractors seeking to participate in the preference programs....Mr. Neal has been awarded the Secretary of Defense's Outstanding Public Service Medal and Outstanding Achievement Award, the OMB's Special Performance Awards, OMB's EEO Award and OMB's Divisional Awards for Special Performance."

NASAWatch.INFO: And some folks still wonder why there's been so much (self-perpetuating) reluctance by the federal government to simply offer competitive prizes as a means of procurement?   Meanwhile, to learn more about how NASA's minority business outsourcing programs actually subordinate minorities and perpetuate their dependance upon self-preserving NASA bureaucrats, please click here.  

NASA is now making cosmetic personnel changes while nevertheless pretending that it's doing far better, in hopes of getting its budget approved by Congress.  Or can you think of a better explanation for why NASA is now advertising a lucrative job opening at JSC (which gets about a third of NASA's budget) for the position of "Manager of Commercialization" while nevertheless stating in some of the fine print that it's open to "Qualified Federal Employees Only"?   This gives rise to both a "fox guarding the henhouse" problem, as well as a "more of the same" one.  Don't taxpayers and space enthusiasts finally deserve better?
U.S. News & World Report article:  "Ten months [after Sean O'Keefe's arrival at the helm of NASA] he has replaced two thirds of the top execs."

NASAWatch.INFO: Maybe so, but aren't many of them still leeching off of taxpayers from some bureaucratic sinecure within NASA?   Political appointees sometimes manage to "burrow in" to a civil service post from which it's presently all but impossible to fire them.  Encouragingly enough, however, President Bush has strived to abolish the arrogance-encouraging, laziness-condoning career protection law which civil servants opportunistically ramrodded down unsuspecting taxpayers' throats before the telecommunications revolution made it possible for voters to know what was happening.  For information about the progress of President Bush's bureaucracy-reform endeavor, please feel free to click here.

(NASAWatch.COM: "Dangitall!  If bureaucrats suddenly have to better justify their tax-leeching sinecures, then who in the Heck will subsequently have time to generate potentially sponsored pageviews for my web properties, and spread gossip to me so that I can publish it and thereby personally profit?  How could I subsequently continue furthering my own agenda in ways that benefit close business affiliates such as the one currently directing the rather floundering [and predictably statist] Space Transportation Association?")

Yet another prominent Federal Court system recently told litigious federal employees to pound sand after they and their self-preserving labor union challenged a relevant governmental entity for having the "audacity" to outsource to the private sector.  (Courtney v. Major General Smith)

NASAWatch.INFO: Did the plaintiffs really believe that taxpayers owe bureaucrats like them a living even when their activities are determined to be not inherently governmental?  Meanwhile, how is our nation's best interest served by bureaucrats' cushy career protections which they opportunistically secured for themselves over a century ago, when the public wasn't yet paying adequate attention due to a lack of telecommunications infrastructure?   

Washington Post article: "In rural China today, 70 percent of government expenditures are absorbed by personnel costs. For peasants, the explosion in the number of bureaucrats has meant higher taxes -- in some cases 20 times higher than a decade ago. The bloated bureaucracy has emerged just as farmers' incomes have suffered their worst decline since 1978, when China launched economic reforms.  That decline is expected to continue. Township factories, an engine for rural growth in the early 1990s, are collapsing across China. The local plants contributed a significant share of township revenue and farmers' income. In addition, crop prices are expected to fall further as China opens its markets to foreign competition under the terms of its accession to the World Trade Organization."

NASAWatch.INFO: While that article does not discuss China's comparatively efficient space program, there are some interesting parallels between China's governmental ills and NASA's which make the article a rather interesting read.   Meanwhile, is it not true that personnel costs were not even included in NASA's  space station cost overruns?

Washington Post article:  "The economic slump after Sept. 11 2001, combined with the stock market roller coaster, sent tax collections plunging throughout the the country. Problems in the District have been most acute with income taxes and capital gains taxes, which are paid on profits from selling assets, such as stocks."

NASAWatch.INFO: How is it that NASA's underachieving, yet arrogant bureaucrats and clearly wasteful contractors nevertheless continue getting annual raises? 

President Bush's proposed Homeland Security Agency, and its relevance
to streamlining NASA's own parasitic & self-perpetuating bureaucracy:

Washington Times article: "Do Democrats really want to bear the risk of keeping inept employees in sensitive positions?"

Washington Times article: "Sponsors of President Bush's plan to create a new Department of Homeland Security turned up the pressure on Senate Democrats by vowing to include the proposal in any temporary spending bill that keeps the government open...
 Congress has finished only three of 13 appropriations bills this fall, and congressional leaders are holding talks about a temporary spending bill to keep funding the government at current levels until sometime after the election."

Washington Times article:  "Senator Daschle's interest in resolving this [Homeland Security labor rights]  dispute before the election is likely to be put to the test in the coming week if Mr. Daschle seeks to pass a continuing resolution through the election without permitting the homeland security bill to go through. Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas will offer his compromise homeland security bill as an amendment to the continuing resolution. This will force a number of Senate Democrats in tight races, such as Max Cleland of Georgia and Tim Johnson of South Dakota, to choose between supporting Mr. Bush or carrying water for Mr. Daschle and organized labor." article: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Sunday it will take "some real effort" to resolve the dispute that has stalled homeland security legislation.  "I am determined to pass this legislation before we leave" to campaign for the Nov. 5 elections, Daschle said. He blamed Republicans for the delay, "but we will get over that. We will try to work through that and try to bring this debate to a close in order to get to where we want." ...Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said the president simply wants the tools to best manage the new Cabinet-level department.  "The president wants the flexibility and the management ability and the national security waiver to say, 'Forget all these delays and cumbersome rules, we're going to do the job,' and the Democrats don't want that," Lott told Fox News Sunday.

Washington Times article: "If [the Homeland Security Bill] isn't passed, we're just going to stay until the election, and then we'll be right back right after the election," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat... But Senate Republicans said they don't believe Mr. Daschle will follow through on his pledge. They accused him of scuttling their latest compromise offer and said he's just trying to avoid blame for the bill not being passed. "I think their intent is not to acknowledge they're killing this bill, and certainly not to pass a bill, but to keep it in limbo so they won't have to take credit for killing the bill and they won't have to put their members to a tough vote," said Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican." article: "Because the Senate is planning to recess Oct. 11, and debate on Iraq is expected to take a week, time is growing scarce for Congress to approve the merger of all or part of 22 agencies in what would be the biggest reorganization of the federal government in a half-century...Sen. Zell Miller (Ga.), the only Democrat to publicly break with the party on the workplace issues [thus far], said Democrats will face "some very, very hard questions" if the United States is struck by terrorists before a department is in place. "There's going to be a lot of second-guessing," Miller said. "Why? Why in the world did you put workers' protection above the protection of American lives?" " article: political gridlock remains regarding the civil service reform issue of the Homeland Security bill.

MSNBC article: "Senate Democrats, joined by moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, appeared to have assembled just enough votes to pass homeland security legislation without the enhanced hiring and firing powers [of tax-subsidized civil servants that] Bush seeks in the name of protecting the nation from terrorism." President Bush vows a veto. article: Proposed amendments to the rather civil service-reforming Homeland Security bill abound in the Senate, and could draw a presidential veto.

  ALSO: Washington Post article: "It appears that only two of the 13 regular annual appropriations bills will be enacted by the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, both dealing with military operations. Congress is likely to pass a series of stopgap spending bills, called continuing resolutions, to fund the government until the new spending bills are approved."  [Meanwhile, Senator] Daschle has said the Senate will finish the homeland security bill before it leaves [for mid-October recess] but has not explained how."

ALSO: Washington Times article: "Parties trade blame for delay of Homeland Security bill.  The president wants to pull together 170,000 federal employees from scores of scattered departments and put them into a new Department of Homeland Security, under his direct command.   Democrats want the employees protected by civil service regulations and collective-bargaining agreements that would make hiring and firing more difficult. "I don't want to see people fired because they disagree with their boss. I don't want to see people fired because they're Republican or Democrat. I don't want to see people fired simply because they had made a statement and it appears on one of the front pages of the newspapers," Mr. Daschle said."

NASAWatch.INFO: Career tenure for federal bureaucrats was railroaded down U.S. taxpayers' & voters' throats during the late 1800's, before telecommunications breakthroughs made it much easier for taxpayers to learn what was taking place.   The telecommunications revolution has also made statist monopolies and centralized planning comparatively very unnecessary.   Needless to say, deadwood bureaucrat beneficiaries of the lethargic bureaucratic malaise almost overwhelmingly tend to prefer those politicians who favor big government programs which keep them comparatively comfortably employed.  Now the U.S. Senate is their only hope for their continued "right" to take advantage of Americans.  

    Anyhow, do the best employees of your local district attorneys' offices have (or need) career tenure to insulate their supposedly outstanding service from the change in administrations?  No. Communications have come a long way since that civil service full-employment act came about over a century ago, and politicians have to behave less politically and more responsibly with personnel decisions as a result.    Meanwhile, isn't the concept  of a job guarantee rather unAmerican?
 Didn't the fall of the Soviet Union show that it's also imprudent?  Has NASA's "trailblazing" & "price-reducing"  performance justified the perpetuation of similar life tenure for its own bureaucrats?  How about the U.S. postal  "service's"?   Don't such career guarantees typically lead to arrogant treatment of taxpayers & genuine space entrepreneurs who are presently still forced to pay their bloated salaries, while the bureaucrats amazingly delude themselves into "nobly" thinking they could earn even more in the private sector (that they often jealously stifle, as privatized Mir's story shows)?
     Some (mainly unions fearing diminishing dues-paying membership, or D.C. area merchants fearing a potential decline in revenues) oppose the President's civil service streamlining, accountability-boosting endeavor. Their rationale is puzzling, though.   After all,  how much good has the tax-leeching bureaucrats' present "job security" done for our increasingly indebted and endangered nation?   Why should federal civil servants continue getting such preferential job treatment while nearly everyone else must perform well to remain employed?    

(NASAWatch.COM: "Dangitall!  If bureaucrats suddenly have to better justify their tax-leeching existence, then who in the Heck will subsequently have time to generate potentially sponsored pageviews for my web properties, and spread gossip to me so that I can publish it and thereby personally profit?  How could I subsequently continue furthering my own agenda in ways that benefit business affiliates such as the one currently directing the floundering [and predictably statist] Space Transportation Association?  Good luck Lieberman & Hillary, for my wallet's & ego's sake!")

Additional previous postings on this subject...

USAToday article:  "Senate majority leader Daschle say that Congress will pass legislation before the November '02 elections creating a Homeland Security Department despite a dispute over the president's power to hire and fire agency workers... Daschle has called Bush's proposal "a power grab of unprecedented magnitude" that would undermine the government's nonpolitical civil service system and threaten labor union rights and protections for one-third of the workers."

Washington Times article: "President Bush [recently] won the first critical Senate test for his proposed Department of Homeland Security yesterday when a majority of members voted against creating a security position in the White House that the administration opposed...  All sides agree on the basics of establishing the department, including transferring 22 agencies and their employees and a budget of nearly $40 billion a year. But they don't agree on how much flexibility to give the president in fiscal and personnel management."

Washington Times article: Bureaucrats' labor union interests are gradually losing support in the Senate for their endeavor to impose civil service restrictions on hiring and firing within the new Dept. of Homeland Security.  
     "House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, said 14 Senate Democrats voted to give President Clinton the same flexibility in restructuring the Federal Aviation Administration in 1995. "It's time to stop the demagoguery on the personnel issue," said Mr. Armey. "The same Democrats willing to give flexibility to President Clinton should stand up and be willing to give it to President Bush in a time of war."

Washington Times editorial: While the House-passed bill creating [the Homeland Security] department would give the president the authority to rapidly shift resources and streamline functions to deal with a wide and changing array of potential terrorist threats, the Senate version pushed by Mr. Lieberman would not. As Mr. Bush observed, enabling the executive branch to do this is hardly new or revolutionary: This authority is available to numerous agencies, including the Agriculture Department, the Energy Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Washington Times article: All sides agree on the basics of the Department of Homeland Security bill, combining 22 existing federal agencies and 170,000 employees into the new department, which would control almost $40 billion in yearly budget authority. But Democrats want to protect the existing collective-bargaining rights of employees who would be transferred to the new department, while the administration wants to protect the authority the president enjoys to curtail those rights for many employees for national security reasons.   Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says "They have decided to pick a fight about civil service rights and collective bargaining. It is bizarre, because it has nothing to do with Homeland Security,"   Republicans, though, said Democrats want to curtail presidential authority.   "The president didn't put this issue on the table; the Democrats tried to take it off the table, to try to take away authority," said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican. "It's not about President Bush. It's about presidents. It's about managers.  It's about a secretary of a department that's going to have to try to bring together all these different agencies, 170,000 people, and get a focus and get a job done."...
      "Republicans say there are enough votes to sustain a presidential veto.   Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman's [pro civil service labor union] comments prompted Senate Republican leadership aides to issue a memo saying he is sounding increasingly partisan. "Perhaps it's perceived as a golden opportunity to get a leg up on the competition for the '04 Democratic presidential primary.  Perhaps pandering to big labor with hopes of filling the war chest," the memo reads."

Washington Times article: "President Bush told senators recently that he will not accept a Department of Homeland Security that restricts his ability to manage the department as he sees fit, just as senators began their debate on a Democrat proposal that contains those restrictions... "We're not going to roll over when it comes to principles and beliefs that we hold to be very, very important," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat. "These are key questions that we want to resolve in a way that allows us to move forward on homeland defense but does so without jeopardizing the protections that have been put in place for federal employees for over a century." "

 Wall Street Journal article (subscription required): "President Bush [says] we will reject any plan which has got a thick book of bureaucratic rules all aimed at protecting special interests."

  An older Washington Post article together with a Washington Times article say that about one-third of the anticipated 170,000 jobs are unionized civil-service ones, with job protections that make them notoriously difficult to fire.   Because of the sensitive nature of some of the homeland security jobs, the Bush administration wants the new Cabinet secretary to have the flexibility to waive life-tenure civil-service protections for some employees.    "It is critical that the new secretary have the flexibility he needs to be able to respond to the be able to hire and retain the best people" said Rep. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican and a member of the new House Select Committee on Homeland Security. "The task [of national security] is too important."