Federal Librarian Winter 2010

Transitioning out of NSPS

By Lucille M. Rosa, NSPS Team Member at the Naval War College

NSPS (National Security Personnel System) was touted as the answer to performance management in the Federal sector.  If followed as taught, it should have resulted in fairness and transparency across the board.  High performers would be rewarded.  Borderline or non-performers would either shape up or ship out. 

Enter the real world … the perception and in some cases the reality was anything but the “as taught” version.  The Unions never bought into it and fought it in court.  The system that was planned to cover all DoD employees eventually never succeeded in getting that far.  Most supervisors now had at least two personnel systems to deal with that operated on different schedules.  The work day for NSPS supervisors demanded time and attention to documenting performance in order to write meaningful assessments for each covered employee.  At least that is the way is was for supervisors who were following the rules. 

Complaints emerged that the system was not being applied fairly and after a study that lasted several months, the task force recommended that NSPS be amended, improved.  President Obama ultimately saw things differently and on October 28 signed the National Defense Authorization Act which included a provision that effectively kills NSPS by January 1, 2012. 

Now comes the scramble and the wait.  Everyone wants to know when the transition out will take place.  Folks, the operative word here is “transition”.  A transition is a gradual move from one position or condition to another.  It is not a hot cutover and the transition out of NSPS is certainly not going to be a hot cutover.

A memorandum coming out of the NSPS PEO (Program Executive Office) dated December 10 indicates that a major pivotal date in the transition out of NSPS is March 1, 2010.  It is with this date that we will begin to see actions based on whether they take place before or after 3/1/10.  The guidance is 4 pages long, but it is pretty simple.  No later than March 1, 2010, new appointments to a position previously covered by NSPS must be placed either in GS or another applicable non-NSPS statutory pay system.  Agencies picking up new people can begin to do this immediately if they so choose, but beginning with March 1, it is mandatory.

If you are an NSPS employee, you were probably hoping to read that your transition out was imminent.  Perhaps by the time this hits the press, such guidance will be available.  Today, it is not.  You may rest assured that provided you are in a good performance status, you will not lose money in the transition.  That has been assured.  More than that has not been determined.  Stay tuned for we are making history every day!

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