Pentagon would pursue performance pay under House-passed authorization

The Defense Department should link pay to performance in its new personnel appraisal system, according to House lawmakers.

Legislation authorizing Defense funding for fiscal 2012, passed by the House on Thursday, would encourage the department to use employee performance rather than job tenure to determine incentive pay under its new performance management system.

Congress repealed the National Security Personnel System in the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization law, giving the department until Jan. 1, 2012, to roll back the controversial pay-for-performance system completely. Lawmakers also authorized the department to make changes to its performance management, workforce incentives and hiring flexibilities.

"Such incentives could include both monetary (such as quality step increases or cash awards for performance) and noncash awards," this year's Armed Services Committee authorization report states. "In addition, the department should develop measurable personnel performance metrics and consider whether professional certification programs are appropriate."

The fiscal 2012 authorization also would extend a requirement that the Pentagon submit progress reports to Congress and acknowledges that further legislative change may be necessary for Defense to implement a fair and transparent performance appraisal system.

Labor unions representing Defense civilian employees have been in negotiations with agency officials to design a replacement for NSPS. According to Matt Biggs, legislative and political director for the International Federation of Technical and Professional Engineers, the process could be complete in September, but limited funding to provide performance incentives could delay implementation for several years.

"With the current budget situation, there's no money for anything," he said. "Labor and management will probably come up with a really good system that won't be funded."

The process also has created conflict with the American Federation of Government Employees, which pulled out of talks in March after one union representative was removed from the negotiating team.

According to AFGE, Defense denied Julie Sheehan, an Air Force employee, permission to participate on the design team responsible for the NSPS overhaul in retaliation for her organizing and collective bargaining efforts. She has since been subject to accusations of poor job performance and placed on a performance improvement plan. Labor officials called the actions "union busting."

AFGE's buy-in is critical to the project's success, Biggs said, adding that the final performance management system could be an example for the Office of Personnel Management to roll out governmentwide.

The fiscal 2012 authorization bill also would prohibit Defense from awarding raises to poor performers. According to the committee report, this would affect just 1 percent of the department's 700,000 civilian workers. An incentive is necessary to encourage employees to improve their performance, the committee wrote.

"They're getting out in front of themselves," said Biggs. "If management does their jobs properly, they can already deny poor performers a raise. It pretty much takes the power out of management's hands."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.