Panel backs bill that could spell end of Defense pay system

Legislation to speed up the overhaul -- or the elimination -- of the National Security Personnel System is working its way through the House, earning praise from labor unions but concerns from a managers' group.

The measure, an amendment to the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill offered by Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., would prohibit new jobs from being classified under NSPS. It also would require the Defense secretary to prepare to end the controversial system, or submit a report to Congress demonstrating why it should remain. NSPS would be abolished within a year unless Congress decided to act to prevent that from happening, following the secretary's report.

The amendment was added to the authorization bill by a voice vote during a markup session at the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

The bill also would halt new hiring into the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System, and would require the Defense secretary to submit a report defending that system, too.

The amendment mandates that NSPS employees receive 100 percent of the annual pay raises employees under the government's General Schedule system receive. Currently, NSPS employees are guaranteed only 60 percent of that raise.

NSPS already has been frozen in place by the Defense Department, pending a review by the Defense Business Board. The board is expected to begin public hearings on the system next week, and will deliver a report to Congress later this summer.

Union officials claim Defense is circumventing the freeze by continuing to classify new positions under NSPS.

Officials at the Federal Managers Association said the organization supports the House move on annual pay raises, but is wary of efforts to take broader action while the Defense Business Board review is under way.

"I'd hate to see them go into the middle of a year and try to transfer these systems," said FMA President Darryl Perkinson.

Shea-Porter said the aim of the amendment was to ensure that Congress could move on overhauling NSPS as soon as the board's review is completed.

"This amendment gives us the opportunity to take action this year on the recommendations resulting from the department's review of NSPS," she said. "Without this language, we would not be able to act until fiscal 2011 and the serious problems would linger unresolved for yet another long year. Our dedicated federal workers deserve better than that."

A spokesman from the Defense Department declined to comment on the pending legislation.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, a longtime NSPS defender, said it would be "premature" to eliminate Defense's pay-for-performance system. "I firmly believe that NSPS should continue," he said.

The committee still was debating the authorization bill on Tuesday evening. Once it passes, it will be taken up by the full House, where it could be modified on the floor. The Senate Armed Services Committee will begin a markup of its version of the bill next week.

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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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