New Civilian Personnel Rules Published Feb. 14
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2005 DoD and the Office of Personnel Management will publish the regulations that will govern how the new National Security Personnel System will operate, DoD officials announced Feb. 10.
The proposed regulations will appear in the Federal Register Feb. 14, and officials invite comment.
Navy Secretary Gordon England said once the public comment period ends March 16, officials at DoD and OPM will confer with the various federal employee unions and then give all comments "fair and full consideration."
"Our plan, then, is to begin the implementation this summer," England said. "We'll learn through doing. We'll do this in phases. And we will progressively add more and more employees (and) learn as we go until completion at the end of 2008."
The publication marks the end of the first phase of implementing the personnel system. The system, enacted by Congress in 2003, will allow DoD to better manage civilian personnel. Once in place, the department will be able to shift personnel among jobs, hire faster and reward good workers.
"Now NSPS is going to replace a 50-year-old system," England said. "We're going to replace (the current system) with a very modern system that we need to attract, recruit, retain, compensate fairly and manage our employees."
The system will focus on performance, flexibility and accountability, the secretary said. "It will be much more responsive to the national security environment, and it will fully preserve our employee protections, our veterans preference and employee benefits."
If all goes well, the first 60,000 people under the NSPS will transfer to the system in July. They will transfer at their current salaries. General-schedule workers will stop being GS-designated employees and will transfer to pay bands. It will be a year before the first decisions are made on performance pay raises, officials said.
Dan Blair, the OPM's acting director, said the new rules will not change merit system protections, whistle-blower protections, veterans preference, benefits, rules against prohibited practices or leave and work schedules.
NSPS will change the general schedule system and job classification standards. It will give managers more flexibility in reassigning employees to fulfill critical needs and more flexibility in where employees will work.
"We have encouraged our unions to work constructively with us, and also with the federal mediation and conciliations services so we can find common ground and make this an even better system," England said.
However, five federal employees unions announced they will challenge the system in court. The unions contend DoD and OPM have not adequately consulted with the unions.
Blair said that with NSPS the entire federal government personnel system has "reached a tipping point." DoD, the Department of Homeland Security and a number of other federal agencies will be covered under new, more responsive personnel rules.
"More federal workers will be covered by reformed and modernized systems than the current general schedule," he said. "These changes haven't come easily. But this new system, coupled with the DHS system, show that transformation can take place in an environment which honors merit and ensures collaboration and cooperation."