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American Forces Press Service

NSPS Implementation Date Moves to Feb. 1

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2005 DoD will delay implementing the new National Security Personnel System until Feb. 1, acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said.

England, along with other Defense Department and Office of Personnel Management officials, provided an update on NSPS matters to members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at a Capitol Hill hearing Nov. 17.

England told senators that NSPS will benefit DoD employees. "This is a win for DoD, it's a win for our employees, and it's a win for our nation," he said.

Several unions recently filed a lawsuit challenging some aspects of NSPS regulations, England said. However, DoD, OPM, the Justice Department and the unions involved in the lawsuit announced an agreement Nov. 16.

"While the lawsuit is in process, we have all agreed that DoD will continue the training on NSPS and will continue collaboration with them on implementation details," England said.

He said the final NSPS regulations were published in the Federal Register on Nov. 1. That publication, he said, had triggered a 30-day period for congressional review of the regulations prior to their implementation.

NSPS is part of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's program to transform the way DoD does business to better meet the challenges of the 21st century. The new program, in development since 2003, will replace the current general-schedule personnel ranking system with broad pay bands.

Employees are evaluated for performance in duties directly tied to departmental missions. Under NSPS, that pay-for-performance system replaces old civil service rules that rewarded employees for length of service rather than performance.

DoD and OPM are partnering to establish the NSPS, which eventually will affect 180,000 Department of Homeland Security employees as well as DoD's more than 650,000-person civilian work force.

"Our collaboration with the department has been a joint effort, and I do thank Secretary England and his staff for his leadership during this undertaking," OPM Director Linda Springer told the Senate panel. She said OPM's role in assisting to craft new NSPS regulations was to ensure there is a proper balance between accomplishing missions and the needs of the work force.

"After all, it's the people in government who make the government work. We also recognize that the government's human resources system must protect and promote fairness and transparency, and guarantee equal access for all," Springer said.

NSPS guards against prohibited personnel practices, protects whistleblowers from recriminations, and maintains all safeguards against discrimination, Springer said.

She said NSPS achieves the balance of employees' rights to representation and collective bargaining with DoD's mission requirements.

"Finally, the NSPS honors and promotes veterans' preference, a privilege that has been dearly earned through personal sacrifice by our men and women in uniform," Springer said.

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