Move to New National Security Personnel System to Begin Next Summer

The implementation of the Department of Defense’s new National Security Personnel System will begin in the summer of 2005 with about 60,000 DoD civilian employees set to usher in the first stage.

The implementation of the Department of Defense’s new National Security Personnel System will begin in the summer of 2005 with about 60,000 DoD civilian employees set to usher in the first stage. The new labor relations system will be implemented across DoD at that time as well, according to Navy Secretary Gordon England, who is directing the program.

Employees slated for conversion will be included in groupings called Spirals. Spiral One will include approximately 300,000 general schedule, U.S.- based Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and other Department of Defense civilian employees and will be rolled out in three phases over 18-months beginning next summer for the first 60,000 employees.

Since NSPS was signed into law on Nov. 24, 2003, DoD officials and the Office of Personnel Management have been working with DoD employees, supervisors, managers, human resources and equal employment opportunity practitioners, general counsel and financial management professionals, and union officials to develop design options for the new civilian personnel management system.

The proposed regulations will appear in the Federal Register this winter, which will initiate a formal public comment period, as well as a period for a formal “meet and confer” process with employee representatives to discuss the proposed regulations. Upon completion of the comment period, the department will develop more specific implementing regulations, which are expected to be finalized in the spring.

The announcement of the first phase of Spiral One participants at this time allows the leadership of those affected organizations to position themselves and look ahead to help prepare DoD employees for the conversion. This will include training in what are called “soft skills,” such as interpersonal communication, team building, and conflict management, to help people adjust to the change.

Spiral Two will comprise the remainder of the eligible workforce and will be initiated following an assessment of Spiral One and after the secretary of defense certifies the Department’s performance management system.

The law provides that the NSPS human resources system may not apply to organizations with more than 300,000 employees until the secretary of defense determines and certifies that the department has a performance management system in place that meets the statutory criteria established for the NSPS performance management system. Spiral One will provide the basis for this certification prior to the deployment of Spiral Two. Spiral Three will comprise the DoD labs should current legislative restrictions be eliminated.

Congress authorized the new personnel system as part of the fiscal 2004 National Defense Authorization Act.

“NSPS provides an opportunity to improve the effectiveness of the department through a simplified personnel management system that will improve the way it hires and assigns, as well as compensate and reward its employees,” said England. “It will provide the department with a modern, flexible and agile human resource system that can be more responsive to the national security environment, while preserving employee protections and benefits.”

In a written welcoming statement to all employee participants in Spiral One, Mary Lacey, Program Executive Officer for NSPS, said “We will gain experience with the procedures we put in place, and I am counting on you to provide feedback in identifying any improvements as we implement the system to the entire workforce.”

England called the implementation of NSPS a historic occasion that will provide challenges and opportunities to manage change in the human resources arena in a beneficial and productive way to support the modern missions of the Department of Defense.

The new system will be fully implemented between July 2007 and January 2008.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47