Union urges Senate action after court upholds NSPS

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) urged the Senate today to pass legislation that would nullify portions of the Defense Department’s National Security Personnel System (NSPS). The House approved its Fiscal 2008 Defense authorization bill May 17, and that measure includes language that would strike down major portions of the NSPS.

“The Senate must follow suit and pass a similar bill,” AFGE President John Gage said in a statement.

Gage’s call for Senate action follows a decision earlier today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that reversed a ruling last year by a lower court. That decision found that portions of the NSPS were illegal.

In its 2-1 decision in the case, AFGE v. Gates, the appeals court said the manner in which the NSPS was designed and implemented provided appropriate due process and protections for employees.

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, this is far from over,” Gage said. “We have a couple of avenues for appeal and in the meantime will continue with our aggressive legislative strategy.”

AFGE officials said that because the appeals court  was sharply divided in its decision, they believe that a full-court review would be appropriate.

Meanwhile, the Office of Personnel Management applauded the ruling and in a statement said it “confirms the [Defense Department’s] direction with important personnel reforms in support of our critical national security mission.” However, OPM officials said they were evaluating the ruling “prior to making any decisions on the next steps.”

In February 2006, District Court judge Emmet Sullivan struck down portions of the NSPS that pertained to labor relations, collective bargaining, independent third-party review and DOD’s proposed internal labor relations panel.
DOD had originally scheduled 65,000 civilian employees to be enrolled in the NSPS, which includes a pay-for-performance plan, but scaled back implementation to about 11,000 nonunion workers after the 2006 ruling.

The House authorization bill passed May 17 would also impose new limits on public/private competitions in DOD under the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-76.

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