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New Pentagon Civilian Personnel System Faces Review

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2009 – The Defense Department will undertake a comprehensive review of the National Security Personnel System to ascertain whether it is fair and transparent to participating employees, a senior Pentagon official said here today.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III directed the NSPS review, Brad Bunn, the Defense Department’s program executive officer for NSPS, told Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters. Lynn is the senior civilian executive overseeing NSPS at the Pentagon.

The Pentagon’s review will provide officials the opportunity to “look at the [NSPS] system in a comprehensive manner, to understand how it has been operating, and to chart a path forward for the future of NSPS and how it is going to go forward in the Department of Defense,” Bunn said.

The Office of Personnel Management and the Defense Department will conduct the review jointly, Bunn said, adding that it probably will take “several months” to complete.

The scheduled transfer this spring and fall of about 3,000 additional Defense Department civilians into NSPS will be delayed pending the outcome of the review, Bunn said.

“We’re going to delay any further conversions of organizations and employees into NSPS while leadership can conduct this review,” Bunn said. Members of Congress, other federal agencies, personnel experts, labor organizations and other stakeholders, he said, will be included as part of the review process.

The more than 200,000 Defense Department civilians who have been transferred into NSPS since the system began three years ago, Bunn said, will continue to operate under current NSPS policies and procedures. Most defense civilians who were slated for transfer into NSPS already have done so, he said.

NSPS was developed as part of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s program to transform the way the efense Department does business to better meet the challenges of the 21st century. NSPS’s pay-for-performance system replaced 50-year-old civil service rules that rewarded employees for length of service, rather than performance.

“NSPS is a pretty significant change in how we hire, pay and compensate and reward our civilian employees who support the national security mission in the Department of Defense,” Bunn said.

There are “varying viewpoints that exist out there on NSPS,” Bunn acknowledged. Internal surveys, he said, indicate that some defense employees are unhappy with NSPS, particularly with regard to performance evaluations.

“There are questions and concerns about the fairness of the system, its transparency, whether it is actually being operated based on the design principles,” Bunn said. “So, those kinds of questions are being asked, and those are the concerns that a review will focus on.”

The department is committed to operating fair, transparent and effective personnel systems, Bunn said.

“And this review is a demonstration of that commitment,” he said.

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William J. Lynn III

Related Sites:
National Security Personnel System
Defense Department News Release

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