President signs bill repealing Defense personnel system

Obama signs the 2010 Defense Authorization Act. Obama signs the 2010 Defense Authorization Act. Olivier Douliery/Newscom

President Obama on Wednesday signed the death warrant for the Pentagon's personnel system, the same day the Government Accountability Office issued a report urging the Defense Department to better address employee concerns with pay for performance when devising a new framework.

Along with the repeal of the National Security Personnel System, the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act approved by Obama mandates several federal workplace reforms including allowing workers in the Federal Employees Retirement System to allocate unused sick leave toward their retirement.

While the law eliminates NSPS specifically, it directs Defense to work with the Office of Personnel Management to implement a new performance management system at the department.

Meanwhile, in its report, GAO concluded that Defense had tried to address concerns about NSPS, but left some critical issues unresolved. The report -- completed in September 2009, before congressional repeal of the personnel system -- noted the possibility of NSPS' elimination and recommended that the Pentagon consider GAO's guidance in the creation of a new system.

GAO identified specific problems with NSPS, including an incomplete analysis of personnel decisions, which could adversely affect the program's evaluation; failure to ensure employee training is relevant and up-to-date; and a failure to provide a comprehensive review of the safeguards in place. The report also noted that while Defense tried to communicate improvements to workers, it did not sufficiently address employee perceptions of NSPS, which GAO described as "mixed."

The Pentagon generally agreed with GAO's recommendations.

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