NSPS Office Reaches Milestone in Transition
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2010 Three-quarters of employees under the outgoing National Security Personnel System have transitioned to the General Schedule system, the head of the office in charge of the massive effort said today.
John H. James Jr., director of the NSPS Transition Office, told American Forces Press Service that the milestone was reached by Sept. 30, as scheduled.
About 165,000 of 226,000 affected employees have made the transition out of NSPS.
“It has gone well,” James said. “Initially we met with the [Defense Department] components and my staff to come up with a plan for transitioning, updating the information technology system and putting in place project plans and information to inform employees about the transition.”
Congress directed a repeal of NSPS and set the timeline for its completion. By law, NSPS terminates on Jan. 1, 2012.
In the meantime, to assist employees in becoming familiar with the GS system, the NSPS website that offers information and training tools, including “GS-101,” an application that James said has been named as a best practice by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization based here.
“The services and the [media] have been communicating down to the field activities and the other components,” James said. “At the local level, those organizations have been holding commander’s calls, webinars and brown-bag lunches to make sure employees have an opportunity to sit down with their leadership to be informed about the process of transitioning out.”
The priority for the transition, he added, is a smooth process that ensures, as Congress mandated, that no employee loses pay due to the transition.
Each position in NSPS -- a system of broad pay bands that cover a range of duties and performance measures -- is classified in terms of the General Schedule system, a system of discrete pay grades that include regular pay increases, steps 1 through 10, based on performance.
“Once the classification is complete, an NSPS position is matched to a GS position,” James said. “If the employee’s salary is between steps, the employee is awarded the higher step. If an employee is classified at a certain grade and they are below step 1 of that grade, the employee is awarded step 1 of that grade.”
Employees whose salaries are higher than step 10 of a grade receive what is called retained pay. That process, he added, “pretty much ensures that employees will not lose any money upon transition.”
“The General Schedule system is captured in law, and a part of that law dictates that you can’t be paid above step 10 of your assigned grade,” James said.
If that occurs, he added, “the only authority we have to maintain your pay above step 10 of your assigned grade is pay retention. That regulation dictates that you get to maintain your pay, but you’re only authorized one half of a general pay increase authorized by Congress until the pay grade catches up with your salary.”
Over the next several months, James said, the transition office will maintain its efforts to monitor employees who are transitioning from NSPS, but it is also looking to the future.
“We’re beginning to turn our focus to addressing the authorities in [the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act],” he said. These include designing a new performance management system, building hiring flexibilities into the new structure, and the possible creation of a civilian work force incentive fund that could be used to reward high- performing individuals and teams or to attract and retain employees.
“We’ve had our initial meeting with the unions in Los Angeles where we had a very diverse group of 200 attendees at the conference who had a voice in what the next system should look like,” James said.
“Our job now is to capture all that data and prepare for the design teams,” he added. “We will engage the labor unions again on what the design teams will look like -- the size, the theme, the scope -- and we will begin the effort of designing and developing the new authorities.”