NSPS move cuts raises of the 'best and brightest'

Thursday - 6/10/2010, 10:45am EDT

Patricia Niehaus, national president, Federal Managers Association

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

A clearer picture is beginning to emerge of exactly how many Defense Department employees will have their pay raises cut in half for the foreseeable future.

Patricia Niehaus, the national president of the Federal Managers Association was one of those who testified yesterday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia.

At the hearing, John James, director of the Pentagon's National Security Personnel System (NSPS) Transition Office, told lawmakers 21 percent of the more than 53,000 employees who had been shifted back into the General Schedule as of May 23 fall into the "pay retention" category.

Those employees make more, said Niehaus, than the top pay in the grade they are transitioning back to.

"If you extrapolate" the 21%, said Niehaus, "for all of the NSPS employees returning to the General Schedule, that could be about 37,000 employees who could be negatively impacted." Other estimates go as high as 47,500.

Either way, that's a lot of people with fractions for pay raises.

Many people perceive the individuals under NSPS who were paid more than they would have been under the GS as having benefited from NSPS. The comment was made yesterday that we've already benefited more under NSPS will continue to have that extra pay, so pay retention is a way of leveling the field. But Senator (George) Voinovich (Ranking Member (R-OH)) also pointed out yesterday that those who are in this situation were the best and brightest under NSPS. They were the highest performers. So it's kind of like you rewarded them on one hand, but now you're only going to give them a partial raise every year. It's almost like you're penalizing them on the other hand.

These are the people, said Niehaus, whose responsibilities were expanded under NSPS, which is how they became eligible to the higher pay in the first place.

While FMA continues to work towards a "more reasonable compromise" on the issue, according to Niehaus, Defense and OPM have said "they will consider our views when they are working on the new performance management system."