The Post is to be congratulated for absolute consistency in its liberalism by resisting my efforts to shrink the size of the federal bureaucracy, get control of government's runaway costs and manage the work force effectively. No, it is not my personality that was at issue in The Post editorial on my reconfirmation ["A Closer Look at Mr. Devine," April 4]. It was whose policy-ox was gored.
The Post supported the Carter civil service reforms, but somehow doesn't like them when we administer them. Its editorial writer thinks our pay and layoff rules based upon performance antagonized Congress. Yet, as reported in the Federal Times -- a newspaper for federal employees -- our regulations as published in final form received the support of almost all interested parties. The only ones who didn't accept the regulations were the unions -- and, of course, their compatriots at The Post. What isn't reported in The Post is that senators of both political parties supported our compromise to end the ban this July 1, when our performance rules will go into effect.
The editorial claims we have made "no apparent progress" with pension reform. Where has The Post been? The fact is that we succeeded in the first term in placing new federal employees under Social Security, just as is the rest of America. That critical legislative victory necessarily began the inevitable steps that have already led to true pension reform for the present retirement system in the recent Senate Budget Committee vote, and for creation of a sound, affordable system for new federal employees. And regarding the merits of our proposal for new employees, don't the editors of The Post read the "Federal Diary" column? On April 3, it reported that "many federal workers are excitby the OPM plan." What an accomplishment in the present environment! Of course, the unions opposed the proposal, and The Post followed their party line again.
The only charge left for a desperate establishment trying to oppose necessary change in the civil service is that I have been too "political." This ignores the unquestioned fact that there has not even been a hint of scandal at OPM since I arrived. This is very unlike the situation at the Civil Service Commission beginning during the Kennedy and Johnson years. For those who doubt this, it is documented in the Rogovin Report, which found "preferential treatment . . . widespread in the 1960s and early 1970s." The only reason the commission refused to discipline anybody for large-scale abuses of the merit system was that it found the practices were so widespread and so prevailing -- and condoned by Congress and the White House -- that they did not believe it would be fair to single out any individual. There has been none of that under my administration of OPM.
The next claim is that I have been campaigning for Republicans. Of course, the fact that from the time of my early predecessor Theodore Roosevelt to the pres is disregarded. That the Civil Service Reform Act specifically made the holder of my office a political representative of the president is ignored. And the fact that my predecessor campaigned for congressional candidates is conveniently overlooked. The Post did not criticize him. Of course, he did not campaign for conservatives.
The fact is that I have managed the civil service system efficiently, and we have made major reforms in health, retirement and performance management. I've saved $6.4 billion administratively by the end of FY 85, and I have cut OPM's administrative budget by 17 percent. I am performing essentially the same functions performed in 1980 with 22 percent fewer people. This is a record of accomplishment so obvious that anyone without ideological blinders can recognize it.
At a recent Appropriations subcommittee hearing, it was perhaps expected that the chairman, Sen. James Abdnor, would say my savings were "staggering" and that "I commend you." But Democratic Sen. William Proxmire said that, although he did not always agree with me, "there is no question that Dr. Devine has done a good job of holding down the cost of his agency's operations." Proxmire even said he hoped that "we can learn from Dr. Devine what his secret is."
I recognize that the policies I have proposed have been difficult for federal employees. We have challenged them to look at their work differently. Clearly, the problems are not their fault, since even OPM prior to 1981 misled them regarding the facts. The remarkable thing is how well our employees have responded. I will always be proud of the relationships I have developed with our fine civil servants.
My record is clear to any open-minded observer. It deserves reconfirmation. The Post must begin to face the fact that we won the election. But, perhaps it has -- after all, it did not oppose me. I appreciate that.