England Briefs Senate on New Civilian Personnel System
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2005 The Civil Service system came into being in the 1880s to foster a professional federal workforce, and the National Security Personnel System continues that spirit, Navy Secretary Gordon R. England told the Senate Armed Services Committee here today.
England is the Defense Department's senior executive for NSPS. He said in a prepared statement to the committee that the system will preserve worker protections while increasing the responsiveness and flexibility of the DoD work force.
The new system will begin for many workers in July, with full implementation throughout the department scheduled for 2007.
The key changes in the system are a simplified pay-banding structure, a new performance management system that will allow more accountability, performance-based pay and a streamlined hiring system. The system also will change the disciplinary system and implement a new way of working with unions.
England flatly said that no employee will lose pay in the conversion to the new system. Pay for performance will be the baseline for the new system. NSPS "offers a stronger correlation between performance and pay, plus greater consideration of local market conditions in setting pay raises," England said in his statement.
The pay system will eliminate step increases, which are tied to longevity. Instead, employees will be rewarded for their performance.
England said the department has worked closely with the Office of Personnel Management and the Congress in forming the system. The department also has consulted with DoD employee unions. In February, the department published the regulations that govern NSPS in the Federal Register. Public comment ended in March, and now the department is again consulting with unions on the system.
England stressed to the senators that the system still protects workers. The system does not, for example, remove whistleblower protections or tinker with the equal opportunity complaint process. It leaves protections against nepotism and favoritism in place. It does not eliminate veterans preference.
It certainly does not end collective bargaining, England said, but it does propose changes.
Finally, it will not result in a loss of jobs or opportunities for civil service employees. "The NSPS will create incentives for managers to turn to civilians first, not last, when many vital tasks must be done," England said. "This will ease the burden on our valuable men and women in uniform to do only those tasks that are uniquely military."
England, who is President Bush's nominee to succeed Paul Wolfowitz as deputy secretary of defense, told the senators that he knows change is hard. But, he added, the new system is needed as the United States faces the threats of the 21st century.