Pentagon suspends NSPS conversions

The Pentagon will wait to move any more employees into the National Security Personnel System until the Defense Department and the Office of Personnel Management complete a joint review of the program.

"This administration is committed to operating fair, transparent and effective personnel systems, and we are undertaking this review to assess whether NSPS meets these objectives," said Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn in a statement. "We recognize that varying viewpoints exist regarding NSPS, and given the scope and complexity of the system, it is important for leadership to conduct its own review of the program."

The review will halt the conversion of 2,000 employees who were scheduled to move into the Defense pay-for-performance this spring, but those already under NSPS will not return to the General Schedule system. There are more than 205,000 nonunion employees already in NSPS.

NSPS has been controversial since its inception. Employee groups have expressed concern that favoritism would taint the evaluations process. But the Bush administration defended the program as a more accurate way to reward performance.

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which helped lead a 2005 union lawsuit to halt the implementation of NSPS, said he told Lynn in a meeting last week that the system never should have been deployed in the first place. Gage added he was pleased Lynn moved so quickly to place the system under review.

"This is clearly a step in the right direction," said Matt Biggs, legislative director of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, one of the unions that joined the 2005 suit. "The foundation on which NSPS was created was based on ideology, has lacked any transparency and has needlessly cost taxpayers untold amounts of resources." In February, several Democratic lawmakers wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking him to stop adding employees to NSPS until the system could be given a full review. In mid-January, Defense issued a new set of rules governing hiring and promotions under NSPS, sparking claims that the Bush administration was trying to establish anti-competitive practices on its way out the door.

Pentagon officials said OPM and Defense were discussing with the Obama administration who should lead the review, and when it should be completed. The administration has not decided yet on leadership or a time frame for the process, but Defense estimated it would take several months to complete the review.

Edmund Byrnes, an OPM spokesman, said any requests for details on the review should be referred to Defense.

Richard Brown, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said he was glad the review was under way but that the union would continue to push for legislative repeal of the system.

"We aren't going to let that stand in the way of our effort to repeal the personnel system this year," Brown 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.