National Security Personnel System needs redesign, OPM says

System rebuild said needed because of systemic problems

The Defense Department should rebuild its National Security Personnel System that covers more than 200,000 civilian employees because of systemic problems, according to a joint review by DOD and the Office of Personnel Management released today.

The system, known as NSPS, should not be abolished, according to a report on the review. However, NSPS should have a redesign that challenges all the assumptions of the existing program.

The redesign should use input from the workforce about how to change the system and how to implement those changes, according to the report.

DOD has about 205,000 civilian employees under NSPS, which consists of a performance management process used to evaluate employees, flexible job classifications and a pay system based on performance.

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn requested that the Defense Business Board create the task group that performed the review.

Other recommendations included re-establishing a DOD commitment to partnering and collaborating with employees through their unions.

The president of the National Federation of Federal Employees wasn't surprised by the report’s findings but was disappointed with its recommendations. “NSPS has been a complete and utter failure, and the report acknowledges this,” said William Dougan, NFEE's national president. “The recommendation to keep NSPS going in light of the program’s failed history is baffling to us. NSPS should be discarded once and for all.”

NFEE would like for employees currently under NSPS to revert to the General Schedule system, Dougan said.

“The Pentagon has had six years to get NSPS right, and they have failed miserably to do so,” Dougan said. “If the recommendation is to scrap NSPS as it exists today, we should not bother creating a new NSPS in its place.”

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Mon, Sep 21, 2009

Every private sector job on the planet has pay for performance and yes if your boss doesn't like you, your boss doesn't give you a raise. Gov't employees should not be treated any different. You already have things the private sector does not - you can't get fired, you still have a full retirement pension, you have affordable health care and you can sit in a building until they close it down and be handed a new job regardless of your skill level.

Mon, Sep 14, 2009 Dave Hill AFB UT.

The problem with NSPS was the buy in, now everyone I know that is on NSPS are between grades that they should be, if they were still in GS scale. Also the hiring seems to be a very big question, in the GS world if you interviewed one you interviewed all, but with NSPS they can screen you out of a interview or not have one at all, every high level manager's job are being filled with retiring Colo's & Generals, there is no promotion protental for any of us Civil Service people.

Mon, Sep 14, 2009

What about the yearly cost of living increases. GS pay system employees get the full cost of living increase voted on by congress. The lucky NSPS employees get 60% of that. I am just curious if any one is looking into this and are those employees who lost money during this period ever going to be made whole.

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 An External Consultant

Having worked for 4 years to "helP" DOD implement NSPS, I have four relatively minor recommendations which would improve the system immensely. 1) Simply do away with the PayPoolPanels--they cost much more than the value they add. If the 2nd level supervisor cannot serve as the quality control point for the ratings, s/he is in the wrong job. 2) Narrow the bands (thereby increasing their number) the salary span is simply too great; which in turn would enable 3) Do away with the control points and 4) Standardize the "Business Rules". There simply MUST be a single best practice in this matter.

Mon, Aug 31, 2009

I'm in HR and NSPS is definitely a Good Old Boys. I saw all the reconsiderations for one of my largest agencies within DOD and it was NOT fairly rated. The paypool manager was also the rating official of some employees. Please go back to GS at least there was fair and ethical pay for everyone with performance awards to boost the really high performers.

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