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Senior Leadership Approves New Civilian Personnel System Plan

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2004 -- Senior leadership in the Defense Department approved the plans for the new National Security Personnel System, Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England, who is heading the project, announced here April 14.

The system, authorized by the fiscal 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, will introduce changes in the way the department hires, pays, promotes, disciplines and fires its civilian employees.

Six teams of about 25 to 30 people, representing various agencies within DoD, spent the last several weeks reviewing NSPS, said England at a meeting with reporters in the Pentagon. Representatives from the Office of Personnel Management and Office of Management and Budget also participated. The teams received briefings from Department of Homeland Security and General Accounting Office personnel.

Earlier this month, England and David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, sent a letter to the department's civilian employees on the progress of NSPS.

"The task before us is to design a transformed system for the department's 700,000 civilian employees that supports our national security mission while treating workers fairly and protecting their rights," the letter stated. "We want to ensure that all stakeholders in the new system - including civilian employees (and) managers . have an opportunity to provide their thoughts, ideas, views and concerns."

The consensus for the journey ahead, said England, includes a full partnership with OPM.

"They're working with us, providing assistance and expertise, in developing regulations which are to be signed by the defense secretary and the director of OPM," he added.

"We look forward to this effort," said George Nesterczuk, OPM's senior adviser to the director for the Department of Defense. "It will take a while, but we're going to do it right. The inclusion of employees and key stakeholders is vital to the success of this effort."

England agreed. While NSPS is mission-first, it's also employee-centric, and the secretary said he encourages input from employees. Mechanisms such as Web pages and town meetings will not only provide information to the work force, but also will allow for feedback.

The plan also calls for "aggressive, but event-driven schedules," he said. The first milestone is to have a labor-relations draft regulation to the Federal Register by November.

"We have schedules, but they could be longer (or) they could be shorter, because it's event-driven and it depends on how we do each step," added England. "We won't go to the next step until we finish, because we are going to do it right. We won't rush it.

"We'll go through this in stages and phases," he continued. "We'll get feedback, and we'll keep improving the program as we proceed."

England said NSPS is a great opportunity for employees, the Defense Department and America.

"It's a great opportunity to have a terrific program for our employees, and I'm convinced we will," he added. "The process will work and the product will be one that everyone will want to embrace and be proud to embrace."

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