DOD civilian workers to get performance paychecks tomorrow

The Defense Department will reveal how 110,000 civilian employees fared under its new job performance ratings when it posts them Jan. 24 on its National Security Personnel System (NSPS) Web site. The effect of those ratings will show up in raises that DOD civilian employees could see in the paychecks they receive Jan. 24.

Employees with the highest job performance rating will see 10 percent average raises, and across-the-board pay raises will average 5.4 percent. Employees who had been anxious about their paychecks under the new system should be pleasantly surprised, said Mary Lacey, program executive officer at NSPS.

“The pay raises are there, and they are fairly significant,” she said.

The total payout in raises is not higher than it would have been under the older General Schedule of steps and pay grades that NSPS is replacing, but the distribution is different. Lacy said DOD promised its employees and Congress that it could create a fairer, more flexible pay system without spending more money on raises and bonuses than it did under the old system. “And we kept that promise to our employees and Congress,” she said this morning in an interview on Federal News Radio.

Some employees will for the first time receive no raises if they received a job performance rating of unacceptable. That money went instead into a pay pool that DOD distributed on the basis of ratings by employee supervisors and performance benchmarks that are standard across all component agencies of DOD.

Lacey said employees have expressed concerns about the fairness of those ratings, but she categorically denied that DOD has set quotas for the distribution of performance ratings and raises. Setting quotas is against the law, she said.

A major benefit of NSPS compared with the older GS system is flexibility, Lacey said. Managers can reassign people and give them a salary increase when they assign them new duties. “You can’t do that under the GS system,” she said.

People have complained that managers are spending more time managing people and justifying their requests for pay raises, but that time is well spent, Lacey said. Managers should be having conversations with employees about their job performance and priorities, she said.

“In lots of places, that conversation never happened,” Lacey said.

DOD has listened to complaints about some of the automation tools that managers are supposed to use in evaluating employees’ job performance, Lacey said. “We’re fixing some of those to make it a lot easier.”

One of the primary concerns that employees have had about NSPS will soon become moot, Lacey said. President Bush is expected to sign the fiscal 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, which would effectively kill provisions in NSPS related to labor relations, adverse actions and appeals that are the subject of litigation. Because of the litigation, DOD has never implemented those portions of NSPS, and now it is almost certain it never will, she said.

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