Agreement Reached to Delay NSPS

An agreement has been reached to delay implementing portions of the new HR system in the Department of Defense.

The Department of Defense and the United Department of Defense Workers Coalition (UDWC) have reached an agreement to delay implementing the labor relations portion of the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) system until February 2006.

According to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), AFGE and the Department of Justice will jointly petition the judge who has been assigned the case, to hear arguments on the merits during the week of January 9, 2006.

In return, DoD will refrain from implementing major portions of the new rules until February 1, 2006.

The agreement negates the need for the union to file a request for a temporary restraining order to halt the implementation of the new system. If a temporary restraining order had been granted, implementation of the system would be halted until there was a court ruling on the merits of the case. With the agreement, the agency will be able to continue preparing for the new system without actually implementing it.

AFGE cites five major points of disagreement. The areas of disagreement essentially go to the heart of the nature and scope of the new human resources system. The agency wants to implement a new system with different roles and responsibilities for the agency and unions representing civilians in the Department of Defense. The union does not like many of the major changes.

These are the five broad areas identified by the union as the major areas of disagreement. (The description is mine but the issues are the ones identified by AFGE.)

  • 1. The nature and scope of collective bargaining under NSPS.
  • 2. Appeal of labor-management disputes to an impartial third party by requiring that an internal board, appointed by the Secretary of Defense, review such issues.
  • 3. The threshold for overturning or reducing disciplinary actions or penalties.
  • 4. Concerns about lower pay which may result from the new system.
  • 5. The role of veterans preference and seniority as factors to be considered during a reduction-in-force.
  • From this list, we can infer that there is no agreement on many or most of the most basic issues underlying the new NSPS system.

    The agreement between the parties appears to be one of mutual convenience that was reached out of necessity of working within the legal process rather than an indication that there is any broad agreement on the substance of the new system. Look for the final outcome to be determined largely through the legal process.

    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