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New Personnel System's Final Regs Sent to Congress

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2005 – Ending a nearly two-year process, the Defense Department has presented the final National Security Personnel System regulation to Congress.

Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said at a Pentagon news conference today that Congress has 30 days to review the final regulations.

The regulations will take effect Nov. 25. The changes ultimately will affect 650,000 of the 750,000 DoD civilian employees.

Once adopted, the labor-relations portion of the system will take effect immediately. "The human resources portion - the new pay bands, the pay-for-performance system, etc. - is scheduled to progressively begin in February," England said.

Some 60,000 employees are in the first group, or "spiral," to come under the new program, officials said. But human resources officials will be very deliberate in how the program goes, England said. In fact, the system will go through a six-month "mock period" before becoming effective.

"That is, at the end of six months, we will evaluate," England said. "We will act as if this was for real, but it will be a mock exercise in terms of the results that we can learn."

During the mock period, DoD employees will receive pay raises as in the past. It isn't until January 2007 that the pay-for-performance portion of the system kicks in for real, officials said. "So we have all of next year to implement the system before it really counts," England said. "And we will then progressively put people in, and each time learn from those experiences and improve the system."

The deputy secretary said that if problems arise, DoD will halt the program and adjust it. "We want the system to work right for everyone," he said.

Setting up the system is enormously complicated, said Mary Lacey, program executive officer for the system. Training is a large part of the system, and DoD has been training human resources people and supervisors how the system should work.

"It also involves the training of line managers who are actually going to operate the system and have an increased role in the system than they've had in the past in making determinations and decisions, as well as every employee," Lacey said.

All DoD employees will receive training in the system, Lacey said.

Office of Personnel Management Director Linda Springer said the system protects the principles that protect federal workers: merit systems principles, due process and veteran's preference. "I can tell you today that all of those have been preserved and have been adequately maintained in these regulations," she said.

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Biographies:
Gordon England
Mary Lacey
Linda Springer

Related Sites:
National Security Personnel System
Office of Personnel Management



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