Bunn will replace Lacey at top job in NSPS office

Mary Lacey, who has led a difficult transformation of the Defense Department’s civilian personnel system for the past four years, is stepping down.

Her successor faces some intense editorial work — rewriting the regulations that govern the National Security Personnel System to conform with provisions of a new law that reflects congressional concerns about the pay system.

Lacey will end her tenure May 11 and move to the Missile Defense Agency as deputy program director for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense. She will turn over the reins to Brad Bunn, who has been deputy program executive officer for the nascent National Security Personnel System since June 2004. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England announced the change April 23.

“I asked Mary Lacey to take on what was a very challenging and rigorous assignment” in first hiring her, England said.

Lacey said the MDA job represents a chance to return to her career roots in engineering. Before becoming program executive officer for NSPS, Lacey was technical director at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Human resources was new for her when she took the NSPS post, she said.

“It’s an exciting opportunity, and I wanted to take advantage of that,” she said. “I’m not an HR person. One of the reasons I was considered for [the NSPS position] in the first place is that NSPS is in many ways a very complex system-engineering initiative, and I brought some of that rigor and discipline.”

Lacey’s four years as PEO haven’t been easy. She faced more than two years of court challenges from a coalition of DOD labor unions, which disrupted the rollout of NSPS, a performance-based personnel management system. The unions dropped their suit in January when Congress added language to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 that restored to NSPS collective bargaining and other workers’ rights.

Congress also made major structural changes to NSPS, mandating that only 40 percent of pay adjustments can be based on performance evaluations and removing DOD’s blue-collar workforce from the system altogether.

When Bunn assumes the PEO role next month, his first task will be to rewrite the regulations for NSPS. “The milestone in front of me as I move into the position as PEO is to rewrite the regulations, ensure that we’re conforming with the NDAA, and get those rules issued and published so that we can continue to institutionalize NSPS in the department,” he said. NSPS officials plan to publish draft regulations in the Federal Register this spring.

“Any big change is going to have serious challenges,” Lacey said. “It’s going to take time. It’s like moving an aircraft carrier going at 25 knots. You don’t just do a U-turn in a quarter of a mile. It takes 30 or 40 miles.”

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