The Trump administration’s nomination of George Nesterczuk to serve as director of the Office of Personnel Management is already making waves among groups that represent federal workers.
While groups representing managers voiced varying levels of support for the announcement Wednesday, a union official was warier of the choice.
Nesterczuk was a key player in the controversial effort to implement performance-based pay at the Defense Department during the George W. Bush administration. The National Security Personnel System was rolled back in 2009 after a lengthy court battle with federal employee unions.
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The OPM nominee currently runs a consulting firm, Nesterczuk and Associates, and from 2004 until 2006 he was senior adviser to the OPM director for the Defense Department. Prior to that post, he was a staff director of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s panel on civil service. He also held posts in OPM, Defense and the Transportation Department during the Reagan administration.
Randy Erwin, national president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, described the nomination of Nesterczuk as “déjà vu.”
“I sincerely hope this nomination of Mr. Nesterczuk is not the start of NSPS 2.0, although I fear it might be,” Erwin said. “Based on our previous interactions with Nesterczuk, I think it’s safe to say we are likely to have some philosophical differences with him.”
Representatives of the American Federation of Government Employees, which was at the forefront of the fight to roll back NSPS, declined to comment for this story.
Professional associations representing senior agency leaders were a lot more welcoming. Senior Executives Association President Bill Valdez, whose group represents members of the Senior Executive Service, applauded the White House’s choice.
“[Nesterczuk] brings obvious strengths and knowledge to the position that are critically needed at a time when Congress and the public are calling for greater accountability and performance from the federal government,” Valdez said. “We believe that his experience in Congress and at the Department of Defense and Office of Personnel Management working on the National Security Personnel System will help inform larger civil service reform efforts that the Trump administration is launching.”
Greg Stanford, a spokesman for the Federal Managers Association, took a more measured approach in discussing Nesterczuk’s bonafides.
“There were a lot of aspects of NSPS that FMA liked and supported,” Stanford said. “I can tell you that FMA is supportive of performance-based pay, performance incentives and that sort of thing, and then hiring flexibility we’re certainly supportive of. [But with] firing flexibility, when we approach that, we always talk about protecting due process and making sure we don’t go down the road to removing those protections that we feel are constitutionally protected.”