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Were you demoted during NSPS transition?

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Are you a Defense Department employee who was transferred into, and then out of, the now-defunct National Security Personnel System? Were you placed into a General Schedule grade that was lower than your original grade, or did your new GS grade not take into account a promotion you received under NSPS?

Federal Times would like to hear from you. E-mail me at slosey@federaltimes.com to talk. If you’d like to talk anonymously, that’s fine.

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Air Force: NSPS transition had its bumps

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The Defense Department has moved roughly 172,000 employees back into the General Schedule from the National Security Personnel System, but the transition had its share of rough patches. According to a Dec. 21 release from the Air Force Space Command — which had to quickly move 3,000 employees back go GS by Sept. 30 — some employees were placed in the wrong GS grades.

The Air Force primarily had problems matching grades and duties because officials used inaccurate or incomplete data. But the Air Force also was under the gun to act fast — employees were shifted in four phases between July and September, and most transitions took place Sept. 12 — which contributed to the errors.

“The rapid transition resulted in errors that may have been prevented had more time been given to accurately transition employees,” human resources specialist Siobhan Berry said in the release.

The Air Force has already fixed some mistakes, but must conduct more in-depth position reviews to correct others.

We’re looking further into this, but we’d also like to hear from our readers who have been switched out of NSPS. How did the process work for you? Were you placed in the wrong grade? Have they fixed any problems, or are you still waiting for your pay and grade to be straightened out?

E-mail me at slosey@federaltimes.com if you’d like to talk. If you’d prefer to speak anonymously, that’s OK too.

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NSPS deathwatch: 56% back on GS, another new pay system for medical employees

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Well over half of the employees once under the Defense Department’s ill-fated National Security Personnel System are now back on the General Schedule.

According to the latest data from the Pentagon’s NSPS Transition Office, 127,962 employees had been transitioned out of the pay-for-performance program as of Aug. 15 — more than 56 percent of the roughly 226,000 employees under the system at its peak. Of those who have transitioned, 20 percent — or 25,893 — have been placed on pay retention because they received larger raises under NSPS than they would have under GS, and their salaries fall above their new grades’ step 10 caps.

More than 92,700, or 73 percent, have had their pay bumped up to their next step level. Their raises have averaged $1,455.

That leaves as many as 40,000 NSPS employees still to be transferred to GS by the end of the month. But if the Pentagon continues at the current rate — nearly 18,000 employees were transferred between Aug. 1 and Aug. 15 — the department should easily meet that self-imposed deadline.

NSPS turns back into a pumpkin on Dec. 31, 2011. By that point, all NSPS employees have to be back on GS or another pay system.

Speaking of other pay systems, Defense is creating a new post-NSPS pay plan for more than 30 medical occupations such as psychologists, social workers, nurses, and assorted technicians and therapists. Defense wants to create this new medical pay system so those employees can keep any extra medical pay NSPS provided. (This system, by the way, would be different from the Physician and Dentist Pay Plan the Pentagon is also working on for — you guessed it — physicians and dentists.)

Medical staffers will be exempted from the transition back to GS, even if they were previously GS employees before NSPS came around. They will remain under NSPS until the new, still-unnamed, system is finished (which has to happen by the end of 2011).

A list of medical occupations under the new plan and contact information for anyone who wishes to find out more can be found here.

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NSPS update: 110K transferred out so far, 22K on retained pay

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The Pentagon has posted updated statistics on the drawdown of the National Security Personnel System. As of Aug. 1, 110,313 NSPS employees have been returned to the General Schedule system. Of those, almost 80,000 have been bumped up to the next highest step and received pay raises averaging $1,450.

But more than 22,000 employees — 20 percent of those transferred — have been placed on retained pay status because they earn more than their GS grade’s step 10 allows. They will receive half of the normal GS pay raise each year until their grade catches up with their salaries.

The Pentagon expects to have more than 168,000 NSPS employees back on the GS system by the end of September. The remaining 56,000 or so employees will be put on other personnel systems in fiscal 2011.

Defense officials first estimated in December that roughly 4,000 employees would be put on pay retention. But if the current rate of pay retention continues, more than 45,000 employees could have their pay raises halved — some for years.

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Fed Times on the air tonight

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Tune into News Channel 8′s Federal News Tonight this evening to catch an interview with yours truly. I’ll be speaking about the Pentagon’s plans to end the controversial National Security Personnel System and how some Defense Department employees could end up getting hurt in the process.

Federal News Tonight is on at at 7:30 p.m. in the Washington area. My segment will air sometime between 7:40 and 7:55 p.m.

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New office to shutter NSPS

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switch-off-400x400The Pentagon has less than two years to completely shut down its much-maligned National Security Personnel System, and it’s just set up a new office to do the job.

The NSPS Transition Office will oversee efforts to transition roughly 220,000 employees from the pay-for-performance system to their old personnel systems. For most, that will be the General Schedule. John James Jr., previously the executive director for logistics, maintenance and industrial operations at the Naval Sea Systems Command, will head the new transition office.

James will also oversee the design and implementation of a new department-wide performance management system that will likely resemble the one created under NSPS, as well as creating new hiring flexibilities and a new incentive fund.

The Pentagon statement emphasized that James’ office will proceed “deliberately and cautiously, without unnecessary delay, and with the least disruption to organizations, mission and workforce,” and said employees will not have their pay decreased during the transition. But about 4,000 employees now under NSPS could see their future pay raises halved as a result of the transition.

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President signs end to NSPS

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President Barack Obama signed the Defense authorization bill into law Wednesday afternoon, marking the eventual end to the controversial National Security Personnel System.

HR 2647 phases out the NSPS pay-for-performance system by Jan 1, 2012, and the Pentagon has six months from Wednesday to start transferring employees over to their original pay system. For many employees, that means a return to the General Schedule.

The bill also contains a number of provisions long anticipated by federal employees:

  • Federal Employment Retirement System (FERS) employees will be able to count unused sick leave toward their years of service, just as Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employees can. This may end the epidemic of “FERS flu,” where soon-to-retire employees burn off sick leave because they couldn’t receive credit for it.
  • FERS employees returning to work for the federal government would be able to redeposit their annuities.
  • CSRS employees who work part time at the end of their careers would be able to have their annuities recalculated to be based only on their full-time salaries.
  • Retirees returning to work for the federal government would be able to collect their full salaries while drawing their annuities. Agencies used to be able to pay rehired annuitants a full salary only if they obtained a waiver from the Office of Personnel Management.
  • Federal employees in Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories will now receive locality pay instead of cost of living. Employees in the continental U.S. receive locality pay.

Feel free to celebrate in the comments section below, feds!

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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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Fed Times on the air: Interview with News Channel 8

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I paid a visit to the Washington-area cable program Federal News Tonight last evening to talk about the future of the National Security Personnel System. Take a look:

I usually appear once a month on Federal News Tonight to discuss the latest in federal personnel matters, and from here on in, we’ll be posting my interviews the following morning. Keep checking back for more.

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