Defense to review NSPS


Update, 5:05 p.m.: A quick (and supportive) reaction from John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees:

“We have said consistently that this system is inherently flawed. It lacks transparency and fairness. It is a system that is completely untenable and should never have been pursued… I am pleased that [Lynn] has decided to take immediate action.”

Original post: The Defense Department announced a major review of the National Security Personnel System today.

The announcement came from William Lynn, the deputy secretary of defense. The pay-for-performance system has been controversial for years; President Barack Obama said during the campaign that he was unhappy with it.

Here’s what Lynn said announcing the review today:

“This administration is committed to operating fair, transparent, and effective personnel systems, and we are undertaking this review to assess whether NSPS meets these objectives.”

The review means DoD will temporarily stop adding new agencies to NSPS. Defense is conducting the review along with the Office of Personnel Management.

Brad Bunn, the program’s executive officer, is speaking at the Federal Managers Association conference this afternoon; Steve Losey is there, and he hopes to get some more information about the review.


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  1. Leaving DOD to conduct an investigation regarding NSPS’s efficacy is like lletting an arsonist investigate for fires. DOD may believe that they are committed to operating fairly and transparently with regards to making NSBS effective, but unfortunately, each day thier actions proove that they do not want to make a fair and honest civilian system. During the past eight years the DOD has unfairly hired hundreds of retiring military days after those military retire. They have cheated civilians out of hundreds of promotions claiming that the military had special talents which the civilians did not have. Do an investigation on hiring practices and evaluation practices. DOD business practices are the absolute worst that they have ever been. And I guarantee that when I get a chance to file law suit without retribution that I will do so. The DOD has forced good people to be rated marginally so that ratings were unfairly skewed. DOD is abusing the federal civilain system, hiring themselves and now they want the authority to waive time in grade requirments so that they can promote themselves faster without having to wait. NSPS is really NSBS and has done more harm than any other civilian system. It is a nightmare and should be immediately rescinded and all hiring and promotion systems should be removed from the DOD permanently because of the horrible abuses that they have demonstrated.

  2. As a civil servant for over 29 yrs, the practice of hiring newly retired persons has become more evident since 2001. At my present job, four persons (three retired) have been hired without the position announced out to the community. All were pre-selected and some were advanced in their pay grade while others who have been doing their job longer and have been given more responsiblities were detained promotions.

  3. The NSPS system is so highly flawed that many if not most senior personnel want to retire or leave. And this comes at a time where their experience is desperately needed.

    I have been told that as a rater, I must inflate all ratings just to be fair to my folks. That the NSPS, (Read: Good Old Boy Network) is so inflated that one organization rated each other so highly that all mangers got over $5,000 Merit Bonus.

    What was to be a rating of 3 is now a four or five to be fair.

  4. Utter nonsense,

    We wasted time energy and money, attending briefs, conferences, video presentations on how to write assesments BLAH BLAH BLAH. The ratings were turned in and NOBODY got the rating they were put in for (WHy would they the Command said Nobody gets more than a (3). Hence we all get a (3) with a share which worked out to be 2/10’s of a point less than our GS counterparts who got 3.9. for having to do absolutely SQUAT!

    Forget about getting anyone to entertain jobs overseas, there is NO incentive anymore, reassign at 5% and get a 10% post differential, total BULL this gives most LESS Cola than they are already in. Not to mention the so called pay fro performance YOU ULTIMATELY end up with less than your GS counterpart, hell they gets steps and COLA.

    Rumsfield and CHO are gone and so should be their Brain Child NSPS, its a GIANT waste of time, energy and ultimately MONEY for the Govt and definitely the employee.

    My Opinion

  5. The NSPS pay system is detrimental to our government employees. The NSPS allows heads of government departments to suppress wages and upper mobility to government employees. Moreover, the NSPS allows heads of government departments to even reduce wages from our government employees and prevent them from receiving yearly cost of living increases. Furthermore, the NSPS takes away the government employees basic right to dispute their Performance Annual Rating (PARs) such as, but not limited to a close out assessment, a performance payout, number of shares assigned, value of shares, or distribution of shares to base pay and bonus. The NSPS pay system invites and fosters corruption and discrimination against our government employees at the highest level.

    Please write President Obama at and ask him to completely repeal the NSPS pay system today!

  6. I agree with you Tom123 that the NSPS system is hightly flawed and that upper managment pay increases are extremely inflated. I know that the chief of the Federal ….( name will remain quiet for now) received appox. $10,000 raise/bonus; the Deputy chief received appox. $8,000 in raise/bonus; Metro cheif received appox. $5,000 in raise/bonus and the amounts go on until the lowest men in management received well below $900 to $0. Would you call this the Good Old Boys Network? The NSPS pay system invites and fosters corruption and discrimination against our government employees at the highest level.
    Tom123 says:

    The NSPS system is so highly flawed that many if not most senior personnel want to retire or leave. And this comes at a time where their experience is desperately needed.

    I have been told that as a rater, I must inflate all ratings just to be fair to my folks. That the NSPS, (Read: Good Old Boy Network) is so inflated that one organization rated each other so highly that all mangers got over $5,000 Merit Bonus.

  7. . 2009 NSPS Performance Payout Example is incorrect: The sample used by the NSPS government web site on the 2009 NSPS Performance Payout Example is incorrect at best. The example does not clearly articulate all of the steps that take place in the calculation. The example is a person getting a 3 and 2 shares, when a straight 3 is only 1 share. This is a misleading example and many employees were not clear in the first year of being under this system on how the performance salary was being calculated. Also the example shows that the employee got 6.3 percent in addition to a bonus of 1080. Keep in mind the bonus has nothing to do with your overall base pay therefore this example should of showed that the base pay increase was less than 5.3. Honestly the example of the NSPS website is just incorrect and a new one with all of the steps to include the entire formula process (nothing hidden) to be shown so that employees have a clearer understanding how the performance pay is calculated. The sample should show a 3.0 getting 1 share so that valued employees have an honest example. I don’t expect to get an award every year but I do hope that I am not under NSPS for the future. I thank all of you that are working toward making the NSPS a fair system or working toward going back to the GS system. Last – question how do employees under NSPS in a YA 02 which is equivalent to a GS 9 thru GS 13 pay band actually get to a 13 level. One would have to be rated a 4 or 5 with 3 or more shares for 10 or more consecutive years. That simply is not going to happen. No one under NSPS will be rated a 4 or 5 every year.

  8. Let’s hope this NSPS system gets abolished! As a high performer I was rated a 3.0 with 1 share. My boss told me that my work was excellent and I’m a valued employee and I should be very happy with this rating. This was my first year being rated under NSPS. My story, in 2007 under the GS system I was rated a 5, also got an Achievement medal for civilian service award (very hard to earn), a QSI which is very hard to get. In 2008 we transitioned under NSPS and we didn’t get a rating — this was the buy in process only. Then in 2009 received my first NSPS rating of 3. It didn’t take me long to see the downside-which you would not think would or could exist. I thought well a valued performer with a rating of 3 is okay with 2 shares. I didn’t expect to get a rating of 4 or 5 because we all knew that even if you performed exceptionally well that was not going to happen because it was limited to very few. I was okay with the 3 but admit I was naive with how the rating would turn out. A rating of 3.0 and no contributing factors considered so the rating was an even 3 which is below average and equates to 1 share. I thought I was a valued performer – actually a high performer and I was going to get at least 3.51 which would have been 2 shares. How did I go from being a high performer valued employee to below average? A rating of 3 is supposed to mean that you are valued employee but when the majority of folks are getting a 3.0 to a 3.50 which is rounded down to 3 and equates to 1 share you are actually below average which is unfair. As a result of this rating I received 1084 toward my base pay and 718 in bonus. I actually make less than what I would of made had a stayed under the GS system as a GS12 step 9. It appears that no matter how hard you work you will still not be given a rating of 4. Wake up folks those of you that got a 4 this year may not get a 4 every year. Gotta be fair and make room for those rated a 3 in the past as an exceptional employee to fairly get their rating of 4 or 5. NSPS was initially set up as a pay for performance system but there simply is not enough money in the pool to pay all employees that are truly exceptional performers 3 or more shares which is a rating of 4 or higher thereby the majority of employees are rated in the 3 category.

  9. I recently accepted an oversees postion as a YF-2, NSPS employee with the Army. I assumed when I accepted the job that my salary increases would be based on my NSPS rating and be within the prescribed payband. Having only been in a job about 3 months, I have been told that my salary is being capped at a GS-12 step 10 ( well below the NSPS level 2 band of equivalent GS-13) which means I can receive no increase in salary as long as I am in this position So my question is why am I being capped at a GS-12 when other employees at the installation I work are not capped? I feel as if I have had the old used car salesman bate and switch trick played on me to entice me into this position. My supervisor indicated that my job was clearly a GS-13 equivalent job. The job announcement did not mention any capping on pay under NSPS. This is evidentally an IMCOM internal rule that few employees are aware of. I suggest that deceptive hiring practices be investigated. Any thoughts or suggestions are apprecaiated. Also, I am following channels to get this question answered but so for no action.

  10. First of all I would like to say terrific blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I have had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Kudos!

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