NSPS Time Travelers Return to Earth

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

Imagine you travel rapidly (I mean like really fast) through outer space in an experimental Space Ship designed by Congress. It is called the NSPS which is short for National Security Personnel System. Thousands of Defense civilians were drafted for the voyage to see if it improved their on-the-job-performance.

Even before the launch, the NSPS was controversial. Unions vowed to bring it crashing back to Earth. After years of struggle, and with the advent of a new administration, the experimental NSPS, with its Shanghaied crew, gets the return-to-base order. Meantime, some of those drafted into the NSPS find they have learned to love it.

The new Congress orders that NSPS be dismantled. You and your once-reluctant travelers-to-the-future are to be returned to your old assignments in government offices. To your horror you discover that your left-behind coworkers (who were not aboard the NSPS craft) have aged. Horribly. Yet you and others drafted to take the NSPS cruise remain youthful and beautiful. And in many cases you are earning a much bigger paycheck than those who were left behind in the old GS pay system.

Returning thousands of NSPS lab mice to their old federal jobs is easier said than done. That's because (for a variety of reasons, some valid, some political) many of the 200,000 Defense civilians pushed into the pay for performance system learned to love it. They got bigger raises, in some cases much bigger, than they would have under the old GS pay system.

We reported on the 4,000-plus (and maybe many more) NSPS employees who, when they return to their old job, will be making as much as $5,000 more than their counterparts doing the same work. One person referred to himself as a GS 14 step 15. He and others like him fear that once they come back into the regular civil service their future pay raises will be limited until they reach the cap for their grade.

But relief may be at hand. The Federal Times reports that Defense and the Office of Personnel Management, on orders from Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), are looking for ways to lift that cap. Voinovich was a major supporter of the NSPS concept and he has said he doesn't want to lose the "good things that were in the program"

Now that NSPS is (apparently) on its way out, the American Federation of Government Employees says it doesn't want the program to morph into NSPS-Lite. Most if not all of the employees drafted into the NSPS, and who got bigger pay raises, are not union members but are represented by the Federal Managers Association.

Stay tuned because an upcoming reform of the entire civil service program could have some surprises on the pay-for-performance front.

Public Service Recognition Week

Is this annual event (this year it runs through Sunday) a feel-good cheerleader exercise by and for feds? Or is it a way to tell the taxpayers what Uncle Sam is doing? OPM Director John Berry says it's a little bit of both. Today on our Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show, he (on tape) and Max Stier (in living color) of the Partnership for Public Service talk about some of the very, very good things feds are doing that might surprise even you.

Later in the show financial planner Ed Zurndorfer will talk about health care reform and its impact on federal and postal workers and retirees.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

The USDA doesn't suggest you try to pressure-can your broccoli. Not only will the heat-intensive process discolor the vegetable, explains YumSugar.com, "it also intensifies the broccoli's gassy odor." So that's why I've never seen canned broccoli!


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