Last updated: June 25. 2014 8:42AM - 275 Views
Thomas Crisp Contributing Columnist

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The National Association for Uniformed Services (NAUS), received a request from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) to publicize a survey. According to the MCRMC, the survey will be sent to a random cohort of individuals across the spectrum of the current active duty force. It is NAUS’ understanding that a second survey will be sent to retirees.

Though NAUS has requested a copy of the survey, they have not seen it and cannot make any comment on it. If you receive one, NAUS urges you to complete it. Your response may have far-reaching consequences and could influence the recommendations the Commission might make.

If you do not receive the mailing, you can still make your comments heard through the MCRMC website at http://www.mcrmc.gov/index.php/public-comments.

The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) is tasked by the President and the Congress to develop recommendations to modernize military compensation and benefits programs. Our primary goal is to ensure the uniformed services can maintain the most professional All-Volunteer Force, provide for a high quality-of-life for the members of the uniformed services and their families, and ensure that compensation and retirement systems are financially sustainable.

Our fundamental objective is to craft an integrated compensation and personnel system that will continue to be valued by Service members, provide flexibility for the uniform services, and be cost effective.

Understanding the compensation preferences of Services members is central to our effort to craft modernization recommendations. To obtain these preferences, we will survey a number of active-duty, National Guard, and Reserve Service members during the next few months.

We also plan to survey retired Service members. The survey will ask participants to value individual elements of their compensation package in relation to each other. If you receive this survey, please take it; however, the survey is not the only way to let us know your preferences. There is also a comment section on our public website where you can provide your input.

Written comments may also be mailed to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, Post Office Box 13170, Arlington, VA 22209. These tools are powerful ways to ensure we are aware of your preferences and concerns.

The commission wishes to thank all who have contributed to our work to date. Over the past year we have benefitted immeasurably from meetings with Service members, veterans, retirees, and their family members.

Additionally, representatives of the uniformed services, Military and Veterans Service Organizations, and other subject matter experts have greatly added to our understanding of the breadth of current military compensation and benefit systems. These engagements have reinforced what we’ve always known: Our people are the strength of our Uniformed Services.

To all service members, retirees, and veterans on installations and in communities across the Nation and around the world: We honor your service and ask for your continued input and support as we move forward with this important endeavor. For more information contact James Graybeal, (703) 692-2166 or james.graybeal@mcrmc.gov.

The targeted hiring freeze that acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson announced recently along with 15 other management reforms could reduce bloat and free up resources to combat the patient-wait-time scandal that has engulfed the department, observers say.

The hiring freeze would apply to the Veterans Health Administration Central Office and the 21 Veterans Integrated Service Network regional offices, with exceptions for critical positions to be approved by the secretary on a case-by-case basis. The purpose, Gibson said, is to “begin to remove bureaucratic obstacles and establish responsive, forward-leaning leadership.” To that Gibson added a plan to bring on “additional clinical and patient support staff,” promising to “deploy teams of dedicated human resource employees to accelerate the hiring of additional, needed staff.”

Understanding why the two moves that appear to pull in opposite directions are consistent requires focusing on the type of employee who is headquarters-bound in contrast with those on the front line, according to observers Government Executive consulted.

“Part of the VA’s access to care crisis can be directly attributed to medical staff vacancies in potentially every hospital and outpatient clinic,” said Joe Davis, public affairs director at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Washington Office. “Clerks are important, but right now the VA needs more folks manning the ramparts than they do in the back office.”

Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, said VA may be addressing a common problem.

“It is possible that there are too many HQ execs and not enough capacity in the field, a phenomenon in a lot of governmental and private sector entities,” he said. Gibson should be given the benefit of the doubt on these kinds of choices, Stier said, since he has the best information and is running the agency.

Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University who has long advocated the “delayering” of agency central management, said Gibson didn’t go far enough.

“It’s a half step, maybe even less because the word freeze itself suggests that a thaw will follow,” Light said.

What the acting secretary “should do is eliminate the positions, ask Congress to get rid of them,” Light added. “My experience over the years has been 100 percent accurate in predicting that frozen positions will always thaw and be filled in the future. Gibson does not need all those layers, nor the leaders per layer, who are self-aggrandizing in many cases and get in the way.”

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