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 email@example.com if you’d like to talk. If you’d prefer to speak anonymously, that’s OK too.
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.
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.
Our story Friday breaking the news that the Pentagon has abandoned the pay-for-performance elements of the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System has generated a lot of interest, both on our main website and our blog. Responses ranged from exuberant and exclamation point-y (“THERE IS A GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11″) to regretful (“Unbelievable… back to the old way where you get paid for doing only as much as needed to not be fired?”).
Federal Times is working on a follow up story this week, and we’d like to hear from people who have worked under DCIPS. Where do you think it went wrong? What do you think it did right? What is the end of pay-for-performance going to mean for your workplace?
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts. If you don’t want to be quoted by name, that is fine.
The Pentagon just posted an action plan online that discusses how it will wind down the pay-for-performance elements of the the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System. Interestingly enough, the report says there were three leading factors that caused Defense Secretary Robert Gates to scratch pay-for-performance, even though a NAPA report advised against it:
- First, the operational tempo in Defense’s intelligence agencies is so high that making such a major change — especially when employees are so concerned about it — could distract employees from their mission.
- Second, “congressional support necessary to undertake and support such a change at this time is mixed at best.” Reading between the lines, it sounds like the level of opposition on Capitol Hill to continuing DCIPS must have been significant.
- And lastly, Gates noted that the non-intelligence parts of the department are moving away from pay-for-performance as the National Security Personnel System ends. And that could complicate matters if pay-for-performance employees work side-by-side with employees who were shifted back to the General Schedule and receive regular pay raises each year.
Defense also said it will publish a comprehensive change management plan by Oct. 31 that sets a process and timeline for moving DCIPS employees to a GS-like structure. Those employees will be classified as GG employees.
Shameless self-promotion time: I’ll be on News Channel 8′s Federal News Tonight program this evening at 7:30 to talk about a few controversial issues we’ve been covering lately.
I’ll first talk about Federal Times’ exclusive look at an upcoming report on problems with the intelligence community’s pay-for-performance system. And then we’ll discuss the growing controversy about federal pay raises and the Republican push to cut them to help balance the budget.
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.
The American Federation of Government Employees wasted no time in firing back at the Defense Business Board task group’s final report on the National Security Personnel System, and its recommendation to rebuild — but not abolish — the controversial system. In a letter sent to the task group less than an hour after the report was posted online, AFGE President John Gage said the decision to drastically reform NSPS left the union “perplexed, angered and frustrated:”
The recommendation to keep NSPS is illogical and does not flow from your findings. The task group has miscalculated the intensity of hatred toward this system. [...] We wonder why DoD isn’t holding those responsible for NSPS accountable and terminating them for this colossal failure. Instead, the task group asks them to try again, while the employees continue to suffer and many good employees lose money. [...]
The evidence of complete failure and serious injustice to many loyal, hard-working DoD employees is overwhelming. It leads to no other conclusion that termination.
Federal Times has just released our first online National Security Personnel System chart. We’ve created an exclusive, interactive program to let you, the reader, conduct the same kind of analyses we used as the basis for our June 8 cover story, Race still a factor in DoD pay raises.
You can drill down to any combination of demographic criteria to find the average rating, pay raise, bonus and total payout for different groups. Wondering how male Asian employees under 40 years of age fared under NSPS? How about Hispanic Army employees in Oklahoma? Pick and choose and our program will crunch the numbers for you. Our Web producer, Scotty Loewen, has designed a “scatter plot” graphic to show how raises and bonuses were distributed by race. And we’ve also programmed it to find average ratings and payouts handed out in January 2008, so you can see how different groups fared from year to year.
So dig in, and if you uncover any interesting patterns or comparisons about how NSPS is affecting members of different groups, be sure to let us know what you find.
New Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry’s announcement last week that the Obama administration wants all federal employees to be paid based on how well they perform doesn’t exactly haveÂ federal unions doing cartwheels. The American Federation of Government Employees said pay for performance can’tÂ work in the government, and saidÂ that the General Schedule is enough to reward hard workers. The National Treasury Employees Union, on the other hand, said it wouldÂ wait and see what Berry comes up with.
And the National Federation of Federal Employees just weighed in on the issue this morning. Though President Rick Brown said he felt better about the issue after talking with Berry last Friday and praised his “good-faith” approach to reform, he also had a warning: Don’t simply warm over leftover proposals from the Bush administration.
Director Berry assured me that this is not an attempt to repackage what we feel are ill-conceived Bush-era pay schemes. . . . [W]e do not expect to see proposals that even closely resemble the so-called pay for performance plans put forward under the previous administration. Everyone agrees that more needs to be done to reward high performers, and we are eager to explore these ideas with the administration.
What do you think? Can pay for performance work in a federal office? Why, or why not? What have your experiences been with such systems?