National Nuclear Security Administration to launch pay for performance

Employees at the National Nuclear Security Administration will become the next group to test pay for performance in government, the agency announced Wednesday.

NNSA, the quasi-autonomous agency within the Energy Department, said it is starting a five-year partnership with the Office of Personnel Management to "fundamentally alter" major parts of the government's competitive service personnel laws and regulations.

Under the pilot, NNSA will collapse the traditional 15 General Schedule pay grades into broad paybands. The process would eliminate the fixed steps that give automatic raises to employees and would make annual pay adjustments performance-sensitive.

The paybands will be based on previous recruitment and promotion patterns and existing grade distributions. Each of the agency's five career paths will include different paybands that reflect the typical career progression within those occupations.

The new system will affect nearly 2,000 of NNSA's 2,500 federal workers. The agency touts the changes as a means of giving managers more flexibility to set higher pay for employees through appointments, promotions and performance evaluations. The agency also hopes the system will help it compete for high-quality candidates and help motivate and retain high-performing employees.

"NNSA needs to continue to attract high-quality people with technical skills for our important national security programs," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "This pilot project gives us the tools necessary to do so in an ever-increasingly competitive job market."

The project is expected to last up to five years, and, if successful, will become the permanent pay system at NNSA, the agency said.

By law, OPM is authorized to conduct demonstration projects that experiment with different human resources concepts to determine whether changes in policy would result in better governmentwide management.

NNSA and OPM first announced plans to launch a pay-for-performance pilot in a Federal Register notice more than a year ago. The project follows two years of discussions, planning, design, development and communications, including the three phases of employee briefings and managerial training conducted at every major site and location throughout NNSA, the agency said.

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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • 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 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.


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