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Pentagon Pay Plan's Demise Could Pave Wave for Broad Reforms

Pentagon Pay Plan's Demise Could Pave Wave for Broad Reforms

Alyssa Rosenberg | Government Executive

November 30, 2009

When President Obama signed legislation that repealed the National Security Personnel System, on a warm day in late October, the Rose Garden celebration seemed like a bit of a letdown. The rollback of the controversial Defense Department pay program was just one of many federal employee provisions bundled into the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act and was largely overshadowed by hate crimes legislation. Unlike the protests outside the meetings of a review board assigned to assess NSPS this summer and the heated lawsuits challenging the system, the work that went into passing the rollback took place largely behind the scenes.

Despite the massive push by federal employee unions, lawmakers and outside experts to end NSPS – the biggest symbol of the Bush administration’s personnel experiments – the real work begins now.

The Defense Department must find a way to return 200,000 workers to the pay systems that covered them previously, and to make sure no one’s salary is reduced along the way. Working in conjunction with the Office of Personnel Management, Defense has until April 2010 to propose yet another alternative pay system, and until October 2010 to design a performance management system that will cover its employees. As OPM begins work on a governmentwide package of personnel reforms, the demise of a program federal employee groups almost uniformly referred to as “toxic” could create the good will necessary for much broader changes.

In the December issue of Government Executive, Alyssa Rosenberg explores challenges and opportunities created by the rollback. Click here to read the full story.


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