Obama and pay-for-performance?


I’m about to join a conference call with the American Federation of Government Employees to get their thoughts on what an Obama administration will mean for federal workers. But we already know that Obama could make some significant changes in the Defense Department’s National Security Personnel System.

Obama in September told unions that he was unhappy with how NSPS was set up, and pledged to alter its regulations or even repeal the controversial program. Obama has not said how he might alter NSPS.

There will be roughly 205,000 Defense employees under NSPS by the time Obama takes power, though observers don’t expect NSPS to go away entirely under his administration. (Removing hundreds of thousands of employees from a major pay-for-performance system would be far from easy, they say.)

But Obama is far from an opponent of the concept of pay-for-performance. In July 2007, he told the National Education Association that teachers should be put under merit pay – a proposal that didn’t win him many friends there.

John Palguta of the Partnership for Public Service told me yesterday that he expects Obama will move toward pay-for-performance in the federal government. But Palguta expects Obama to engage unions and other groups that the Bush admininstration excluded during previous pay-for-performance attempts.

Check www.federaltimes.com later today to see what AFGE, one of the biggest opponents of NSPS, has to say.


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  1. I believe the transition back to the GS system would not only be relatively easy but a real blessing for those of us who are currently under NSPS – workers as well as supervisors. It has done nothing but complicate an already complicated performance management system.

    Pay for performance already existed under the GS system – it was just not used effectively by supervisors. The real answer is to get them to use the tools they have at their disposal and not try to create a whole new system that no one understands and does nothing to improve the productivity of government workers – the real motivation for ‘pay for performance’.

  2. Pingback: Fedline » Defense to review NSPS

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