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June 26, 2003

Mr. Chairman:

Thank you for the opportunity to explain my amendment in the nature of a substitute. This amendment reflects extensive negotiations with NASA, with the Government Reform Committee, and with the unions that represent NASA employees.

These have been productive negotiations. This version of the bill is endorsed enthusiastically by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), the largest union at NASA. NASA, too, supports passage today, and we know of no concerns on the part of Chairman Davis.
This version of the bill is also closer to the bill reported out of the Senate Government Affairs Committee on a bipartisan basis, so I am hopeful we will be able to get this bill to the President's desk early this fall.
I should note that my intention is to have our full Committee report out this bill before the August recess, and we will try, with the assistance of the Government Reform Committee, to have it on the House floor as soon as possible after that.

So what's in this amendment? The amendment adds several additional authorities for NASA which NASA requested after H.R. 1085 was introduced, including the authority to use expedited hiring procedures for scientists and engineers who are fresh out of school; the authority to pay additional travel expenses; the authority to grant more annual leave as a recruiting tool for experienced staff; the authority to make temporary appointments to the Senior Executive Service; and the authority to have more flexibility in deciding what step some employees are on under the General Schedule.

As I indicated in my earlier statement, in all these cases, we modified NASA's proposed language to make it more targeted, and we required reports to be able to oversee how these new authorities are being applied.
This amendment also limits NASA's authority to conduct demonstration projects to 8,000 employees - 3,000 more than law currently allows, but less than the unlimited number in the original version of H.R. 1085. We also limit the bonuses that can be paid to supervisors or managers in any single year to 25 percent of the total amount of bonuses awarded.

The amendment also includes technical changes to clarify the meaning of the bill and to fit the new authorities into the package.

In short, this is a reasonable amendment that has garnered broad support. I urge its adoption.

Thank you.


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