Obama signs bill that kills DOD pay-for-performance system

NSPS employees to go back to General Schedule; unions laud effort

 President Barack Obama today signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2010 that will eventually kill the controversial National Security Personnel System, designed to link pay raises to job performance for Defense Department employees.

More than 200,000 DOD employees under the NSPS will revert to the General Schedule system by 2012 under the bill’s provisions.

The law's passage pleased some critics of the NSPS.

“There is evidence that pay-for-performance was discriminatory and used as a way to take money from lower-paid employees and routed to higher-paid employees," said Randy Erwin, legislative director at the National Federation of Federal Employees. DOD "tried to do too much, too fast. Pay for performance was supposed to motivate, but instead it’s done the opposite.”

The American Federation of Government Employees, in a statement responding to the news, said NSPS the program is “costly, unwieldy, discriminatory, complicated, opaque and mistrusted by DOD civilian employees at all levels.”

The system's proponents had championed it for being flexible and giving managers more freedom to reward their best employees. In 2008, Mary Lacey -- then the program executive officer for NSPS -- reported that the highest-rated employees in the system got raises averaging 10 percent under NSPS. Across the board, she said, raises under NSPS averaged 5.4 percent.

Still, eliminating the NSPS will not solve major problerms with DOD's personnel system, insiders speaking on background said. In addition to fixing a lack of trust among DOD's employees, a new pay system will need to be established within about six months, and will likely need to include some measures to rate performance, they said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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Reader comments

Thu, Dec 2, 2010

What was the purpose of NSPS? I think is sucked. Leave the GS system alone. Don't fix something that's not broken. Don't re-invent the Wheel. NSPS just created more favortism, racism, and Pay Pool BS of officials located elsewhere, who have no expert knowledge on the day-to-day operations at another site where employee work at. Some employees who don't do a damn thing got high pay, because they're the Boss's pet.

Fri, Nov 6, 2009 cae NE

Our mgr said if you just put in your time doing your job well, that's what you were hired and paid to do, therefore you get COL adjustments only. You must show above and beyond, taking on more responsibility,etc, to get a raise. However other dept mgrs gave the new rate as long as you hadn't done someting to NOT deserve it; and still a third used it unfairly to punish and reward. So guidelines are needed to make things level.

Thu, Nov 5, 2009

Many employees are abusing NSPS. I know one employee changes three jobs in DC area in 2009. She negotiated and received 5% increase pay for each job. This employee have received 15 % increase pay in 2009. The turn over in DC area is very high due to employees who know how to get around with NSPS. Managers in agencies should not have such power to offer higher salaries.

Thu, Nov 5, 2009

Many employees are abusing the NSPS system. I know one employee changes three jobs in DC area in 2009. Every job, she negotiated and got at least 5% raise. Just in 2009 along, the person had 15 % increased pay. In DC area, employee turn over rate is very high due to employees know that they can able to take advantage of NSPS. Managers in agencies should not have such power to offer higher salaries.

Thu, Nov 5, 2009 John Boston MA

Reading some comments, we should reward according to how hard we work, not how well we accomplish the job or go above and beyond. Quality comes to mind also...like being able to spell and form sentences in English. Whenever you hear words like “costly, unwieldy, discriminatory, complicated, opaque and mistrusted" from a union, you know the system was Fair.

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