DoD's NSPS under fire

Thursday - 3/19/2009, 4:35pm EDT

Amy Morris

As heard on WTOP

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By Amy Morris
Executive Editor,
FederalNewsRadio

The system which controls how 200,000 Defense Department employees are hired, compensated, promoted and rewarded is now under review. The National Security Personnel System (NSPS) has come under fire in recent years by federal employees unions - who say it is unfair, and allows for cronyism within the Department.

Q: So how are the various groups involved responding to this review?

A: The unions are happy about this. They call the system "untenable" and "inherently flawed." They say it has always lacked transparency and fairness. The Government Accountability Office released a report a few months ago which gauged employees' confidence in the fairness of the system... and questioned whether NSPS would be a fair reflection of employee performance. Employee performance is directly related to raises so that is part of the reason this is so important. Meanwhile, Brad Bunn, who is the executive director of the program, told Federal News Radio he isn't surprised that the system is being reviewed. It is very complex, it is controversial, and a lot of people are affected by it.

Q: How many employees are involved?

A: 205,000 employees are currently covered by the system - which was implemented nearly three years ago. About 2,000 more employees were supposed to be added this spring. That isn't going to happen now, because this review is expected to take several months. However, all other aspects of the system that are already in place will continue as normal while the review is ongoing. So nothing will change during the review period for the employees already covered under NSPS.

Q: Why is the review being done?

A: This goes back to the issue of transparency and fairness. The Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn, says NSPS is very complex, and they want to ensure that it is effective, fair and transparent. Bunn agrees with that...he says it is important to make sure they're operating a fair and transparent system. So, DOD is working with the Office of Personnel Management to figure out the framework, scope and timeline of the review. Again, this is just a review, so we don't know what will happen when that review is complete...whether the system will stay or go or be amended in some kind of way.

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