IMPROVING THE RECRUITMENT, RETENTION, AND UTILIZATION OF FEDERAL SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS

A Report to the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government

Alan K. Campbell, Stephen J. Lukasik, and Michael G. H. McGeary, Editors

Committee on Scientists and Engineers in the Federal Government

Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1993



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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government IMPROVING THE RECRUITMENT, RETENTION, AND UTILIZATION OF FEDERAL SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS A Report to the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government Alan K. Campbell, Stephen J. Lukasik, and Michael G. H. McGeary, Editors Committee on Scientists and Engineers in the Federal Government Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1993

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and their use for the general welfare. Under the authority of its congressional charter of 1863, the Academy has a working mandate that calls upon it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. The Academy carries out this mandate primarily through the National Research Council, which it jointly administers with the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press is President of the NAS. The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) was established in 1964, under the charter of the NAS, as a parallel organization of distinguished engineers, autonomous in its administration and in the selection of members, sharing with the NAS its responsibilities for advising the federal government. Dr. Robert M. White is President of the NAE. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) was chartered in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, to enlist distinguished members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. In this, the Institute acts under both the Academy's 1863 congressional charter responsibility to be an adviser to the federal government and its own initiative in identifying issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth Shine is President of the IOM. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. SPONSORS: The work on which this report is based was supported by the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, and by the National Research Council from its NRC Fund. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 93-83796 International Standard Book Number 0-309-04849-4 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC 20418 B 124 Copyright 1993 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government COMMITTEE ON SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ALAN K. CAMPBELL (Co-chair), Visiting Executive Professor, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia STEPHEN J. LUKASIK (Co-chair), Los Angeles, California ERNEST AMBLER, Arlington, Virginia WILLIAM M. KAULA,* Professor of Geophysics, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles HOWARD MESSNER, Executive Vice President, American Consulting Engineers Council, Washington, D.C. JANET L. NORWOOD, Senior Fellow, The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C. ALAN SCHRIESHEIM,§ Director, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois BRUCE L. R. SMITH, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. Study Staff MICHAEL McGEARY, Study Director JAMES VOYTUK, Senior Staff Officer PAMELA EBERT FLATTAU, Director, Studies and Surveys Division ALAN FECHTER, Executive Director, Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel *   Member, National Academy of Sciences §   Member, National Academy of Engineering

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government OFFICE OF SCIENTIFIC AND ENGINEERING PERSONNEL ADVISORY COMMITTEE LINDA S. WILSON (Chair),+ President, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts DAVID BRENEMAN, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts J. PATRICK CRECINE, President, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta LESTER A. HOEL,§ Hamilton Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville ERNEST JAWORSKI, Monsanto Company (retired), St. Louis, Missouri DANIEL KLEPPNER,* Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge JUANITA M. KREPS, Department of Economics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina DONALD LANGENBERG, Chancellor, University of Maryland System, Adelphi BARRY MUNITZ, Chancellor, The California State University, Long Beach ALAN S. RABSON,+ National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland BRUCE SMITH, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM H. MILLER (Ex-officio Member),* Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley §   Member, National Academy of Engineering *   Member, National Academy of Sciences +   Member, Institute of Medicine

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government Preface and Acknowledgments This report is the result of the second stage of an effort begun in 1989 when the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government asked the National Research Council to conduct an exploratory study of organizational and institutional processes that may affect the ability of the federal government to attract and retain scientists and engineers. A committee was appointed by the National Research Council's Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel to undertake this exploratory study, which was completed and published in 1990 (Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists: A Report to the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press). The phase one report examined the current personnel practices of the federal government as they impact the effectiveness of the federal government's employment of scientists and engineers. The examination found a number of weaknesses as well as strengths in current practices and recommended that further study be done to address the weaknesses, with emphasis on how the weaknesses might be overcome. It was recommended that this continuing study be done in two parts. One should relate to the adequacy of the political appointments process for those agencies with major responsibilities in fields that make extensive use of scientists and engineers. The other study would examine issues surrounding the employment of scientists and engineers in the career service. The first study—of the policy appointment process—was undertaken by a panel appointed by the National Research Council's Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. The findings of the panel were published in the report Science and Technology Leadership in American Government: Ensuring the Best Presidential Appointments (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1992). The committee assigned to study the employment of scientists and engineers in the career service was directed to analyze the relative

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government effectiveness of mechanisms designed to recruit, retain, and utilize these personnel and to recommend organizational and decisionmaking strategies to strengthen weak points in the system. Some major changes in the external environment—international and domestic—occurred during the committee's deliberations that had considerable relevance for its work. These were the end of the Cold War, a long-lasting recession, and the passage of the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990. All of these have affected the recruitment, retention, and utilization of engineers and scientists by the federal government and are taken into account in the recommendations represented in this report. The recommendations cover the full range of personnel management practices, including the division of responsibility between central agencies and the operating departments, and within those departments, the organization of the career service for scientific and engineering work, the use of performance-based pay, and the encouragement of federal scientists and engineers to become involved in their professional associations. Significant contributions were made to this study by people inside and outside government. The committee is grateful to the following individuals and organizations: at the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government—David Z. Robinson, Executive Director; David Beckler, Associate Director; and Jesse Ausubel, Director of Studies; at the National Research Council—Alan Fechter, Executive Director; and Michael McGeary, Study Director. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provided assistance throughout the committee's deliberations, including presentations by Jean Barber, Deputy Associate Director, Personnel Systems and Oversight Group; Leonard Klein, Associate Director, Career Entry and Employee Development Group; Marilyn K. Gowing, Assistant Director, and Martin Beck, Research Psychologist, Personnel Research and Development; and Doris Hausser, Chief, Performance Management Division. Others at OPM who provided important information and insight were Brigitte W. Schay, Demaris Miller, and Paul Thompson, Research Demonstration Division. From the Department of Energy, guidance was provided by Richard Starostecki, Director, Office of Scientific and Engineering Recruitment, and Sharon Bobb, Director, Office of Personnel. Others who were generous in counsel were Christopher Jehn, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management and Personnel, Department of Defense; James H. Trainor, Associate Director, Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Larry Slagle, Director, Personnel, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); Sandy Wigdor, Study Director, National Research Council Committee on Performance Appraisal for Merit Pay; Allen Cassady, Chief, Personnel Demonstration Project Office, National Institute of Standards and

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government Technology; Timothy Coffey, Director of Research, Naval Research Laboratory; Essex Finney, Director, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, USDA; Barbara Wamsley, Staff Director, Position Classification Project, National Academy of Public Administration; Norman Peterson, Argonne National Laboratory; Mark Mussell, Congressional Budget Office; Robert H. Dillon, National Institutes of Health; and John F. Wilkinson, National Science Foundation. The response to the requests of the committee for advice and counsel was generous and very helpful. It reflects the strong interest and commitment by the departments and agencies to do everything possible to support and encourage the scientists and engineers who have chosen to make their professional contributions through the federal government.

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   INTRODUCTION   17     Problems   18     Issues   23 2   THE CHANGING EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT   27     Changes in the External Recruiting Environment   28     Favorable Changes   28     Undermining Trends   31     Challenges and Opportunities   34 3   COPING WITH THE CIVIL SERVICE SYSTEM   37     The Civil Service System   37     Adaptive Responses to the General Schedule System   43     Special Rates   43     Title 38   45     P.L.-313 Positions   46     Advance In-Step Hiring   47     Special Pay Systems   79     Lessons from the Personnel Demonstrations   49     China Lake Demonstration   49     National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Demonstration   52     Department of Agriculture Demonstration   55     Lessons   55

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government 4   FEDERAL PAY REFORM   57     FEPCA Provisions   58     General Pay Comparability   59     Pay-Related Flexibilities   63     Additional Pay Systems   67 5   NEXT STEPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS   69     Who Should Be Responsible for Personnel Policy for Federal Scientists and Engineers?   71     OPM Responsibilities   72     Department and Agency Responsibilities   73     Interagency Coordination   74     Congress   76     How Should the Effectiveness of the System Be Evaluated?   77     Evaluation   77     Responsibilities   78     Special Provisions for Administering the S&E Workforce   79     A Senior Research and Development Service   79     Peer Input for Science and Engineering Personnel Decisions   82     More Flexible Position Classification   83     Quadrennial Review of the Science and Engineering Personnel System   85     Issues Beyond FEPCA   86     Adequately Equipped and Staffed Laboratories   86     Professional Development   87     Fairer Ethics Rules   89     REFERENCES   91     APPENDIXES   99 A   Members of the Committee   99 B   Statistics on Federal Scientists and Engineers   103 C   Profiles of the Personnel Management Demonstration Projects   113

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government Text Tables 3-1.   General Schedule Pay Comparability Adjustments, 1978–1990   40 3-2.   Adaptive Responses to GS Limits and Rigidities   44 4-1.   Flexibility Provisions of FEPCA   64 Appendix B Tables B-1.   Federal Scientists and Engineers by Occupational Group and by Sex, 1989   104 B-2.   Federal Scientists and Engineers by Occupational Group and Series, 1988 and 1989   105 B-3.   Federal Scientists and Engineers by Type of Work Activity, 1989   108 B-4.   Federal Scientists and Engineers by Occupational Group and Scientific/Engineering Field, 1989   109 B-5.   Federal Scientists and Engineers by Department and Agency, 1989   110 B-6.   Federal Scientists and Engineers by Occupational Group and by Degree Level, 1989   111

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Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers: A Report to the Carnegie Commision on Science, Technology and Government IMPROVING THE RECURITMENT, RETENTION, AND UTILIZATION OF FEDERAL SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS A Report to the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government