Judge delays NSPS

The Defense Department agreed Jan. 24 to delay introducing its new pay-for-performance personnel system until at least March 1 to give a federal judge time to review arguments in a court case brought by unions challenging the National Security Personnel System (NSPS).

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) said DOD agreed to the postponement in a court hearing on the case before Judge Emmet Sullivan in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

A DOD spokeswoman did not comment directly about the agreement except to say, "we were pleased to present the government’s position to Judge Sullivan and look forward to his ruling.”

AFGE and a coalition of unions representing DOD civilian employees filed a lawsuit in February 2005 to protest NSPS. The lawsuit states that DOD refused to collaborate with unions during development of the new personnel system, in violation of enabling legislation that Congress passed in 2003.

AFGE also argued in its suit that NSPS would eliminate employee collective bargaining rights and whistleblower protections.

NSPS is designed to replace the existing 15-grade DOD personnel system with a series of pay bands. Career advancement in the new system will be based on periodic performance reviews. As many as 750,000 DOD civilian employees could be under NSPS when it is fully implemented.

Commenting on the judge's request for a delay, AFGE's National President John Gage said, “We are confident that Judge Sullivan will rule against DOD’s extreme personnel proposal.” He added that another court case made him hopeful that the unions would prevail. "AFGE won a similar case against the Department of Homeland Security, and we will win against this misnamed DOD scheme.”

Last August Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled DHS' proposed personnel management system would eliminate rights and protections that Congress expressly wanted DHS employees to have when it passed legislation creating the agency in 2002.

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