USA – NSPS Transition Well Under Way, Official Tells Congress

WASHINGTON – The transition of Defense Department civilian employees from the National Security Personnel System is proceeding, with 75 percent of the workforce expected to be transferred into the General Schedule classification and pay system by late September, the defense official overseeing the effort told Congress today.

More than 53,000 defense civilian employees who had been enrolled in the NSPS system have been shifted to the GS system, John H. James, Jr., director of the Pentagon’s NSPS Transition Office, told a subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

About 170,000 remaining NSPS employees will transition to the GS or other pay and personnel systems by Jan. 1, 2012, the congressionally mandated deadline, James reported. Congress directed a repeal of the NSPS system in the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act and set the timeline for its completion. Congress also mandated that no employee lose pay due to the transition.

Of transitions completed so far, 71 percent of the employees actually received pay increases – an average of almost $1,400, James told the committee. That’s because their NSPS pay levels put them between steps on the GS pay scale, which qualified them for the higher step, he explained.

Eight percent of the employees maintained the same pay level because their NSPS salary matched a step within their new GS grade, James said.

The other 21 percent of the employees earned salaries under NSPS that exceeded the Step 10 pay level for their GS grade. They, too, retained their full pay level as they converted to the GS system, James explained. However, they will receive only one-half of any future pay raises until their pay reaches parity with the high end of their GS pay level. The military services and Defense Department components have launched information and education campaigns to ensure their workers understand how the NSPS transition will affect them, James told the committee. In addition, the NSPS Web site is updated regularly to provide employees the most up-to-date reference materials and training modules on the GS system and performance management basics.

James noted the challenges associated with transferring employees between two fundamentally different classification and pay systems.

NSPS is based on broad pay bands that encompass a broad range of duties and responsibilities and allows employees to advance within a single pay band based on performance. In contrast, the GS system tightly defines duties and responsibilities in discrete pay grades based on a position’s difficulty, responsibility and qualification requirements. While overseeing the NSPS transition, James‘ office also is charged with coming up with a plan for an enterprise-wide performance management system that provides hiring flexibilities and a workforce incentive fund.

He assured the committee the Defense Department will make the process as open, transparent and inclusive as possible. „We have a strong desire to build an effective relationship and fully participative process with labor organizations in developing these new authorities,“ he said.

„Transitioning approximately 226,000 employees from NSPS to the appropriate statutory non-NSPS pay and personnel system is a very high priority for the department,“ James said. The Defense Department, he said, is „committed to open, ongoing communication about NSPS transition and development of the DoD-unique performance management and hiring authorities“ provided in the 2010 National Defense Appropriations Act.

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