The Office of Personnel Management will continue as a full partner with the Defense Department during the phase-in of the new human resources system known as the National Security Personnel System, according to OPM Deputy Director Dan G. Blair.
"OPM and DOD have been equal partners in developing the NSPS, and we will remain so in any future adjustments to the basic design," Blair told employees gathered at the DOD Worldwide Personnel Conference held in Southbridge, Massachusetts. "We’ve built in regulatory flexibility so the department can tailor NSPS to specific needs in staffing and appointing authorities, in classification of occupations, and in managing pay and performance systems."
Blair asserted OPM’s position, especially when issues or features of NSPS having a "significant impact" on the civil service.
The National Security Personnel System was authorized by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004. It replaces a more than half-century old pay and classification system designed primarily for a clerical work force fighting the Cold War.
The NSPS is similar to the new HR system at the Department of Homeland Security, known as MaxHR, that links employee pay to performance and give managers greater flexibility to adjust their operations based on staffing or mission needs.
Blair noted the key to successful implementation of NSPS is DOD’s establishment of a communication plan that encourages employee feedback.
"Employees must perceive the NSPS as fair and credible, especially in managing pay and performance," he said. "The NSPS must be transparent, with implementation problems identified and resolved through constant feedback" that includes a "robust evaluation program."
The NSPS system was developed over a period of many months, with open and intense negotiations between DOD management, and defense employees and their representatives. OPM, which serves as President Bush’s chief advisor on federal HR issues, served as a consultant.