NSPS update 2: Intel system suspended as well


It looks like the Defense Authorization Bill is going to throw a monkey wrench in the intelligence community’s pay for performance system as well. The bill (all 1,492 pages of which can be read here — skip to page 780 for the NSPS provisions) would suspend the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System for everybody except employees at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, who have had that system for the last decade, until the end of 2010. And since the IC’s system is based in part on that system, that’s going to slow Chief Human Capital Officer Ron Sanders’ efforts to pay spies, analysts and other intelligence employees based on how well they perform. The bill says the Pentagon, OPM and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence should study the system.

Other things I noticed:

  • The bill guarantees nobody will have their pay reduced in the move back to the General Schedule or their original system. (pg 782)
  • It calls for Defense Secretary Robert Gates to set up “a fair, credible, and transparent performance appraisal system for employees” that is linked to bonuses and other performance-based actions. The system should ensure ongoing feedback and dialogue between supervisors, managers and employees, and set timetables for review, the bill says. And it calls for expanding training, counseling and mentoring opportunities for employees. (pg 784)
  • It’s possible that whatever performance appraisal system DoD ends up with might not be that different from performance appraisal under NSPS. The NSPS review panel that in August harshly criticized it as systemically flawed and recommended it be “reconstructed” also praised its performance appraisal system. So the Pentagon could stick with that and build a new system around it.
  • Gates has six months after the bill is passed to start shifting employees out of NSPS. (pg 781)
  • He also has six months to propose a new personnel system that fixes the problems with NSPS, and explain why he doesn’t want to shift employees back to the General Schedule. Congress would have to approve the new proposal as part of the fiscal 2011 Defense Authorization bill. (pg 792-795)
  • I just got of the phone with Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who counts many DoD employees as his constituents. He said that one of the biggest problems with NSPS was the political baggage that came with it — unions felt former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shunned them when NSPS was being crafted and were outraged that the Pentagon attempted to limit collective bargaining rights as part of NSPS.
  • Moran said “I wouldn’t be at all surprised” when I asked if he thinks the Pentagon might try to propose a new personnel system to replace NSPS. Moran noted that President Barack Obama supports the concept of pay for performance, and thinks that some aspects of NSPS will return. But he said as Obama crafts a new pay-for-performance system — whether at DoD or governmentwide — he will likely engage unions and employees more than the Bush administration did, which will give him a better chance of succeeding.

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