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Senate wants plan on NSPS conversions

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The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to know in detail how the Pentagon plans to convert about 226,000 employees from the National Security Personnel System back to the General Schedule or other pay system. The request for an action plan on conversions is part of the Senate 2011 Defense Authorization Act, which the committee finished marking up today.

The bill also:

  • Clarifies that the repeal of NSPS has no effect on the direct hiring authority of defense laboratories, and increases the number of positions for which that authority can be used,
  • Temporarily authorizes overtime pay for Navy civilian employees working on the USS George Washington aircraft carrier,
  • Extends for one year the authority to waive limitations on the aggregate basic and premium pay available to civilian employees working within the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility,
  • And authorizes enhanced appointment and compensation authority for certain Defense health care occupations.

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Cantor seeks to attach pay freeze to Defense spending bill

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House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s office tells me that they’re hoping to attach a proposal to cut out next year’s federal pay raise to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, possibly today. Cantor, R-Va., plans to use the so-called “motion to recommit” — a House rule which gives the minority party one last chance to amend a bill — to force a vote on the issue.

If a pay freeze is attached to something as big and crucial as the Defense authorization bill, that could make it tough to extricate. There’s a lot that could happen – it could get stripped out in a conference committee if the Senate’s version doesn’t contain a similar provision, for example. But if the 2011 NDAA arrives on President Obama’s desk with the pay freeze included, would he go so far as to veto the entire bill over that issue? It’s hard to say, but given the fact that Obama’s already taking serious political fire over the size of the deficit, he may not want this fight.

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House passes Defense authorization bill

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The House just approved the 2010 Defense authorization bill, which would (among other things) kill the National Security Personnel System. The Senate won’t vote on the bill until Friday at the earliest, and could wait until next week to consider it.

You can read more about the bill here, here and here.

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NSPS repeal update: Return to GS by 2012

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Here’s a few new details on the Defense Authorization Bill’s repeal of the National Security Personnel System that lawmakers on a House-Senate conference committee have agreed upon:

  • All 205,000 employees currently under NSPS will be transferred back to their original pay system by Jan. 1, 2012, according to a statement from Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y. The bulk of NSPS employees were originally under the General Schedule system.
  • American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage — who in June compared NSPS to Dracula — thinks the Defense Authorization Bill will be the final stake in the heart of the program.
  • But it’s not a done deal yet. Army Times reporter Rick Maze tells me that other issues could scuttle the authorization bill. Rick said that one provision in the bill, which would authorize more spending for Joint Strike Fighter engines, could get the whole thing vetoed. Also, Republican opposition to a Hate Crimes Prevention Act rider could trip the bill up in the Senate.
  • And Gage told me that the bill provides one slim chance for the Defense Department to save NSPS. According to Gage, language in the authorization bill says that if the Pentagon manages to “reconstruct,” or radically overhaul, NSPS to Congress’ satisfaction within a certain time period, and if Congress passes a bill saying it’s satisified with the NSPS reconstruction, the system could be saved. But, of course, that’s an awful lot of “ifs,” and at this point, it’s not looking good for NSPS.
  • Gage said that new department-wide flexibilities on hiring, assigning personnel and appraising employee performance will be subject to collective bargaining.

Keep watching www.federaltimes.com for more information.

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House passes DOD authorization bill

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The House passed the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act in a 389-22 vote today.

The House version of the bill would suspend the use of public-private competitions for federal jobs for three years, end the department’s pay-for-performance system and direct new contracting reforms.

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More oversight on the menu

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Wondering how the next Congress is going to approach acquisition issues?

Answer: More oversight.

That’s what Cathy Garman, a professional staff member for the House Armed Services Committee, said today at a panel discussion hosted by Venable, a Washington, D.C. law firm. The discussion centered on the acquisition management priorities of the next Congress and the next administration.

Garman noted that Congress approved several changes to procurement regulations and procedures through the Defense authorization bills in recent years. The 111th Congress is going to make sure those changes have been enacted.

Among the congressionally mandated changes topping the oversight list:

  • how the government has used funds set aside for acquisition work force recruitment and development
  • the status of the government’s efforts to insource federal work currently performed by contractors
  • where the government stands on taking inventory of the number of contractor employees doing government work

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