FCW Forum

DOD readers debate value of NSPS

Readers debate the problems and potential of DOD's pay-for-performance system

Many readers welcomed the news that the Defense Department would not shift any more employees to the National Security Personnel System until it had conducted a thorough review of the pay-for-performance program, while some disagreed with the decision. Here is a representative sampling of comments posted on our March 16 article. Some comments have been edited for style and length.

Intolerable inequities

According to the managers I have spoken to, NSPS is more work and yet achieves the same results as the old General Schedule merit-based system. I also heard it is unfair in that two people with similar jobs and similar job performance may receive different pay incentives depending on the pay pool they are in. This is because pay pools may receive different levels of funding to pay for these incentives.

If the government is looking to save money, this is the system to keep. My co-workers are jumping ship, retiring and resigning at record levels as they see their pay dwindling because the "favorites" have all but drained the pay pool, [leaving] little to divvy up amongst the rest of us. Was this just a bad joke??? And don't even get me started on the new "Defense Travel System."

Objectionable objectives

I received three straight years of multiple performance awards prior to converting to NSPS. I continued to perform at that rate but under NSPS got nothing to show for it. Some left, but as is mostly the case, the hardest workers will stay regardless because they are dedicated. NSPS helped out some of the poor performers by letting them develop their own objectives and criteria, management accepted that and the winners were the best at writing, as usual.

As someone who received top marks I will gladly state the system is unfair. However, the biggest problem is the huge amount of time that is wasted in setting objectives, writing them up, and reviewing them. Far too many hours by senior personnel are spent on reviews with the intent of being fair. I have been left waiting for important documents to go out because no one above me is available. My management doesn't have the time to engage in this exercise. While the GS system wasn't fair either, it was what most of us signed up for.

Could be worse

Perhaps those under imminent threat of going into NSPS can breathe a sigh of relief, but no one has said a word about the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System. DCIPS is an NSPS clone with even more paperwork. I still haven't figured out how to write an unclassified "performance objective."

The merits of NSPS

NSPS is the way ahead for DOD in giving the government the ability to weed out the non-performers that have given civil service a bad rap for many a decade. Many of us observe those that come in late, make little progress in their work day, take long lunch hours, accept many personal calls at their desk, if not on their personal cell phones, and then leave early. Thus, they fully anticipate their next step increase and the annual pay raise as they tack on years toward their much-anticipated retirement. In reality, industry would not tolerate, or condone, such behavior but the civil service system of today will, truly the fleecing of America.

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