NSPS: the end is near

Wednesday - 4/14/2010, 11:08am EDT

John James, Director, NSPS Transition Office, Dept. of Defense

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

When asked recently by Federal News Radio what it will take to reform the federal government's human resources management practices, and particularly how federal employees are paid, former director of the Office of Personnel Management, Linda Springer, said in essence, no agency is an island.

Let's face it, we have the General Schedule that's been around for decades, but there are other systems, as well, and such a varied group of missions, of individuals, of circumstances in which people operate that it is not easy to craft this in a way that is going to hold up and really effectively serve all the purposes. I believe it can be done, but . . . I don't think it's the right approach to just pull out one piece -- whether it's pay or career advancement or mobility -- in isolation. I think the best approach is more holistic.

Newly appointed director of the NSPS Transition Office, John James, seems to have take a page right out of Springer's playbook.

James told Federal News Radio his vision of the future for pay for performance is shared with OPM, and across Defense.

They have some ideas about how they want to move forward with a personnel system, and so we're staying in close contact with them to make sure that anything we develop here is in alignment with OPM.

Secondly, I think one of the advantages that we saw in NSPS is that it almost forced us to make sure that we had complete alignment between each individual department, down to the individual employee when they set their objectives, that there was a clear line of sight about how their jobs and their objectives affected mission accomplishment, and we think that worked very well.

James sees the merit of merit pay, and that there was some good in the NSPS.

I think that there are concepts in there that we should keep in mind, but also, as we look at a new personnel system, we should look at all thoughts and really bring in a very diverse organization, including our labor partners, to make sure we capture everyone's thoughts and we build the best system that we can for employees.

In the meantime, James said the transition of personnel out of NSPS and back into the General Schedule is where it should be. Most of the actions, said James, will be taking place between May and September of this year "when we have the information technology capability to do mass transitions."

For more on the NSPS from the Federal Drive, see HReinvented: Why NSPS didn't work.