OPM tells DOD to rebuild ailing NSPS personnel system

Redesign said needed because of systemic problems with National Security Personnel System

The Defense Department should rebuild its National Security Personnel System that covers more than 200,000 civilian employees because of systemic problems, according to a joint review by DOD and the Office of Personnel Management released today.

The system, known as NSPS, should not be abolished, according to a report on the review. However, NSPS should have a redesign that challenges all the assumptions of the existing program.

The redesign should use input from the workforce about how to change the system and how to implement those changes, according to the report.

DOD has about 205,000 civilian employees under NSPS, which consists of a performance management process used to evaluate employees, flexible job classifications and a pay system based on performance.

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn requested that the Defense Business Board create the task group that performed the review.

Other recommendations included re-establishing a DOD commitment to partnering and collaborating with employees through their unions.

The president of the National Federation of Federal Employees wasn't surprised by the report’s findings but was disappointed with its recommendations. “NSPS has been a complete and utter failure, and the report acknowledges this,” said William Dougan, NFEE's national president. “The recommendation to keep NSPS going in light of the program’s failed history is baffling to us. NSPS should be discarded once and for all.”

NFEE would like for employees currently under NSPS to revert to the General Schedule system, Dougan said.

“The Pentagon has had six years to get NSPS right, and they have failed miserably to do so,” Dougan said. “If the recommendation is to scrap NSPS as it exists today, we should not bother creating a new NSPS in its place.”

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

Reader Comments

Tue, Sep 22, 2009

I am a first line supervisor. The high cost of NSPS compared to its benefit is just not worth it. Costs so far include approximately 60 hours of "official" training for the entire NSPS workforce; considerable time spent discussing the system, writing objectives and writing assessments; considerable time spent by supervisors and pay pools evaluating each individual rating; and the high cost of a demotivated workforce that is not going to produce more but likely less under this system. The only benefit that I see is that employees have a better understanding of the objectives and mission of their employer. All the employees that I am in contact with hate the system. They do not believe in it. It was introduced to us with limits, such as the limits on salary within a pay band (limits relate to the old GS system range), and a limit on the eligible pay increase (5%) after a promotion. Employees consider it yet another way for the Government to save money with regards to compensating its work force. Scraping it is the cheapest way out. If it must be revised, I suggest a pass-fail on each objective plus allow a supervisor to recommend a higher rating on his/her high performers. Streamline all other aspects, especially the pay pool part of the existing system.

Tue, Sep 1, 2009 Mentallect Washington DC

NSPS is defective due to lack of transparency, objectiveness, and favoritism. A low performer in a large paypool can be rewarded financially better than superior employees in small pools. Additionally, a job which is a GS-11 equivalent can be lumped upon type A personalities without even a 5% raise. The Position Descriptions are irrelevant because catchall phrases are included so any extra duties can be lumped under it without compensation. The policy, implementation, and review demonstrates an external source needs to rewrite NSPS. It can be made better, but I am not quite certain it should be abolished (at this point).

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