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Task Group Recommends Reconstruction of Civilian Personnel System

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2009 – A Defense Business Board task group has recommended reconstruction of the National Security Personnel System.

Rudy DeLeon, the chairman of the group and former deputy defense secretary, said NSPS, a pay-for-performance system, tried to do “too much, too quickly,” and his group recommended the moratorium on converting general schedule jobs to NSPS continue.

About 205,000 of the 865,000 Defense Department civilians are in NSPS. The full Defense Business Board will review the task group’s recommendations and will prepare a report for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

The first recommendation is to reconstruct the system. “Reconstruction is a level of effort and sophistication more than just fixes,” DeLeon said. “It’s going to require a significant amount of diagnosis before you come in with reconstruction.”

DeLeon said an effective pay-for-performance system requires commitments in time, money and effort.

“A supportive culture requires leadership commitment, open communication, transparency and employee trust of supervisors and leaders,” he said.

A pay-for-performance system needs to evolve, he said. “Trying to do something too quickly, too ambitiously, may not produce the desired result,” he said.

The overall conclusions are that the pay-pool process is overly complex and lacks transparency. Also, payout formulas are confusing. The task group heard repeatedly that pay band 2 is too broad, and reassignments within the pay bands fluctuate from organization to organization.

The group also believes that NSPS has lessened the bonds of trust between first-level supervisors and employees. “Re-establishing the [Defense Department] commitment to collaborating with employees and manager associations is essential,” DeLeon said.

The task group also made recommendations for the general schedule system. “Overall, the department needs to design a collaborative process for [Defense Department] managers and employees to design and implement a pay-for-performance system,” he said. “Bargaining unit employees and the employees need to start from scratch in terms of any alternatives for the GS system.”

The group recommended replacing the current general schedule classification system.

DeLeon said the personnel system has to be changed. “Never has the federal workforce, particularly in [the Defense Department], been as important as it is right now,” he said. “After a period of using contracting out, we’ve come back to an understanding of how critical the federal workforce is in terms of the national security mission of the United States.”

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