USANSPS Office Reaches Milestone in Transition

WASHINGTON — Three-quar­ters of employ­ees under the out­go­ing Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Per­son­nel Sys­tem have tran­si­tioned to the Gen­er­al Sched­ule sys­tem, the head of the office in charge of the mas­sive effort said today.

John H. James Jr., direc­tor of the NSPS Tran­si­tion Office, told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice that the mile­stone was reached by Sept. 30, as sched­uled.

About 165,000 of 228,000 affect­ed employ­ees have made the tran­si­tion out of NSPS.

“It has gone well,” James said. “Ini­tial­ly we met with the [Defense Depart­ment] com­po­nents and my staff to come up with a plan for tran­si­tion­ing, updat­ing the infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy sys­tem and putting in place project plans and infor­ma­tion to inform employ­ees about the tran­si­tion.”

Con­gress direct­ed a repeal of NSPS and set the time­line for its com­ple­tion. By law, NSPS ter­mi­nates on Jan. 1, 2012.

In the mean­time, to assist employ­ees in becom­ing famil­iar with the GS sys­tem, the NSPS web­site that offers infor­ma­tion and train­ing tools, includ­ing “GS-101,” an appli­ca­tion that James said has been named as a best prac­tice by the Part­ner­ship for Pub­lic Ser­vice, a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion based here.

“The ser­vices and the [media] have been com­mu­ni­cat­ing down to the field activ­i­ties and the oth­er com­po­nents,” James said. “At the local lev­el, those orga­ni­za­tions have been hold­ing commander’s calls, webi­na­rs and brown-bag lunch­es to make sure employ­ees have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to sit down with their lead­er­ship to be informed about the process of tran­si­tion­ing out.”

The pri­or­i­ty for the tran­si­tion, he added, is a smooth process that ensures, as Con­gress man­dat­ed, that no employ­ee los­es pay due to the tran­si­tion.

Each posi­tion in NSPS — a sys­tem of broad pay bands that cov­er a range of duties and per­for­mance mea­sures — is clas­si­fied in terms of the Gen­er­al Sched­ule sys­tem, a sys­tem of dis­crete pay grades that include reg­u­lar pay increas­es, steps 1 through 10, based on per­for­mance.

“Once the clas­si­fi­ca­tion is com­plete, an NSPS posi­tion is matched to a GS posi­tion,” James said. “If the employee’s salary is between steps, the employ­ee is award­ed the high­er step. If an employ­ee is clas­si­fied at a cer­tain grade and they are below step 1 of that grade, the employ­ee is award­ed step 1 of that grade.”

Employ­ees whose salaries are high­er than step 10 of a grade receive what is called retained pay. That process, he added, “pret­ty much ensures that employ­ees will not lose any mon­ey upon tran­si­tion.”

“The Gen­er­al Sched­ule sys­tem is cap­tured in law, and a part of that law dic­tates that you can’t be paid above step 10 of your assigned grade,” James said.

If that occurs, he added, “the only author­i­ty we have to main­tain your pay above step 10 of your assigned grade is pay reten­tion. That reg­u­la­tion dic­tates that you get to main­tain your pay, but you’re only autho­rized one half of a gen­er­al pay increase autho­rized by Con­gress until the pay grade catch­es up with your salary.”

Over the next sev­er­al months, James said, the tran­si­tion office will main­tain its efforts to mon­i­tor employ­ees who are tran­si­tion­ing from NSPS, but it is also look­ing to the future.

“We’re begin­ning to turn our focus to address­ing the author­i­ties in [the 2010 Nation­al Defense Autho­riza­tion Act],” he said. These include design­ing a new per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem, build­ing hir­ing flex­i­bil­i­ties into the new struc­ture, and the pos­si­ble cre­ation of a civil­ian work force incen­tive fund that could be used to reward high- per­form­ing indi­vid­u­als and teams or to attract and retain employ­ees.

“We’ve had our ini­tial meet­ing with the unions in Los Ange­les where we had a very diverse group of 200 atten­dees at the con­fer­ence who had a voice in what the next sys­tem should look like,” James said.

“Our job now is to cap­ture all that data and pre­pare for the design teams,” he added. “We will engage the labor unions again on what the design teams will look like — the size, the theme, the scope — and we will begin the effort of design­ing and devel­op­ing the new author­i­ties.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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