200 Convene in Los Angeles for DoD New Beginnings Conference


Los Angeles, CA – From September 20-23, about 200 representatives of federal unions, the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) met in Los Angeles, CA to brainstorm ideas for potential changes at DoD regarding performance management, hiring, and workplace incentives.

DoD was given authority in the fiscal year 2010 Defense Authorization Act (the same bill that repealed the National Security Personnel System) to make Department-wide changes in these three areas. This conference was an opportunity for DoD to get union input on these topics before beginning the process of shaping reforms.

Called the “New Beginnings” conference, this gathering was the first significant labor-management conference at DoD since President Obama signed Executive Order 13522 in May of 2010 establishing the labor-management forums throughout the federal government.

NFFE and the IAM were well represented at the conference, with 15 representatives from our unions in attendance. Our representatives at the conference were able to share their experiences and the experiences of their Local members, giving all the DoD workers represented by NFFE and the IAM a real voice in the development of potential reforms.

The task at hand during the conference was not to debate specific proposals, but for labor and management to cooperatively develop a collection of ideas on which a smaller design team, composed of labor and management, would draw to shape jointly-created proposals.

“We were very pleased with the approach taken by DoD at this conference,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin, who was in attendance at the conference. “After experiencing the Department try to force NSPS on Defense workers, we came into this conference with healthy skepticism that our people would have the opportunity to provide a meaningful voice in creating new systems at DoD. But this conference delivered on what was promised. It was a candid discussion about what has worked and what has not worked at the agency, and nothing more. DoD was not pushing any ideas whatsoever. I believe it earned the Department a lot of trust from labor. It was a critical first step in the direction of real collaborative reform.”