NSPS Rollback Hopes and Fears

Wednesday - 5/26/2010, 4:00am EDT

What a difference a Regime Change makes!

A few years ago, many Defense civilians were sweating their Congressionally-mandated conversion to a new pay system.

The National Security Personnel System was set up by the Bush administration. It promised managers better tools to financially reward top-performers outside of the GS system which, critics said, lacks flexibility. Pay bands were set up and, thanks to generous raises over the years some (unions say a lucky few, management groups say thousands,) are now paid a lot more than they would have been under the old GS system. One employee described himself as the salary equivalent of a GS 14 step 15.

Because of those better-than-GS raises, some Defense workers, who've grown to love the NSPS, are sweating their Congress-ordered transition to into the old GS system.

Federal unions fought NSPS from day one. They first persuaded the Pentagon to limit NSPS coverage to employees outside union bargaining units. That put about 226,000 Army, Navy and Air Force civilians under the new plan.

Unions said NSPS was flawed from the start, was implemented too quickly and didn't get sufficient input from groups representing workers. Officials of the American Federation of Government Employees consider the NSPS rollback their biggest legislative win of 2009, which was a banner year for feds and retirees.

While few if any union members went under NSPS, Jacqueline Simon, director of Public Policy for AFGE says the union wants to make sure that the Obama administration's upcoming civil service reforms don't contain a version of "NSPS Lite."

On the other hand the Federal Managers Association says it is swamped with questions and complaints from Defense civilians who prospered under NSPS.

Consider this e-mail:

    "I'm in a rather unique position. I was a high step GS-15 on conversion into NSPS. After conversion to a YA-03, I applied for and was selected for a YA-03 position with another DOD agency. My current salary is above the highest pay for a GS-15, but on conversion I was placed at a GS-14 (with retained pay status). The rationale I am being told is that the position I accepted was a GS-14 position, even though such distinctions did not exist at the time. I'm baffled by this rationale since the announcement was for a YA-03 and not a GS-14. Since I was receiving the same pay, I had assumed my move was a lateral. Does this make any sense, and do you know what I can do? I would appreciate any advice since my agency really doesn't have any idea of what I can do about this situation."

FMA legislative director Jessica Klement says "if I had a quarter for every e-mail l've received like that" she'd be in the money.

To read a letter from the FMA to the House Armed Services Committee about the pay cap, click here.

Today at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn with Mike Causey show, Klement will talk about the NSPS rollback and how it's working. She'll also give an update on bills to permit feds to put annual leave dollars into the TSP and the status of teleworking.

Investment Jitters

If you've got them don't feel like the Lone Ranger. Whether it's volcanoes in Iceland, perks in Greece, the Gulf Oil spill or the two Koreas, the stock market is reacting. At 10:30 a.m. today on Your Turn, Certified Financial Planner Rebecca Schreiber talks about things you can do to avoid, or weather, financial storms.

You can listen Your Turn on your DC area radio (WFED 1500 AM) or anywhere in the world on your computer by clicking here.

Better Than a Bobblehead!

All this week, Federal News Radio is handing out the first annual Causey Awards, honoring high-achieving performance in human capital management. The winners are extraordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary things. You can learn more about them by clicking here.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

According to the Atlantic magazine, George Washington's "salary was two percent of the total U.S. budget in 1789."


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