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National Security Personnel System (NSPS)

What is it?
Congress authorized the NSPS in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY04. The law allowed the Department of Defense (DOD) to establish a new human resources management system designed to align with its critical mission requirements and protect the rights of civil service employees. The regulations governed compensation, staffing, classification, performance management, labor relations, adverse actions and employee appeals, while preserving merit principles, veterans' preference, due process, and employees' right to bargain.

The NDAA for FY08 required the NSPS to adhere to government-wide rules on reduction in force (RIF), furlough and transfer of function, and portions of the regulations that were never implemented (e.g., disciplinary actions, appeals of adverse actions, and labor-management relations). It also exempted Federal Wage System employees and delayed coverage of certain laboratories no earlier than FY12.

The NSPS provides broad pay bands to allow employees to be easily moved to other work assignments and opportunities; paying and rewarding employees for their performance and contributions in support of the Army mission.

What has the Army done?
The Army has successfully transitioned more than 67,000 non-bargaining unit employees into this system and currently has more than 72,000 in the NSPS. The Army established policies and instructions that supplement the DoD Implementing Issuances and incorporates changes from the enabling regulations, and DoD policies. To comply with the NDAA 08, the Army developed interim guidance on applying government-wide RIF rules and the use of multiple representative rates in competitive areas which include both NSPS and non-NSPS employees. The Army developed a number of guides to include: Guide to Pay Pool Business Rules, End of Cycle Pay Pool Guide, and the Pay Pool Funding Supplemental Guide. The Pay Setting Guide helps managers and human resources personnel understand the NSPS pay setting rules and flexibilities and establishes appropriate pay rates that assist in ensuring proper pay management. The Army also published NSPS bulletins in the areas of pay pools, performance management, and compensation.

Also, the Army revised the Human Resources for Supervisors course by combining information from the legacy and the NSPS personnel systems to provide new supervisors with the knowledge and skills needed to function in an environment of multiple personnel systems. This course certifies supervisors to rate employees under the NSPS performance management system and makes them eligible for delegated classification authority.

Additional on-line videos for the compensation workbench, performance appraisal application, and two for pay pool administrators have also been produced. These videos are accessible via the NSPS website: In addition to the videos, an on-line Pay Pool Administrators course has also been developed.

Two tools, the enhanced workbench and the equitable compensation curve, were shared to assist pay pools in calculating payout distribution decisions and address some of the limitations of the default payout split. Both of these tools complement the compensation workbench and are accessible via the Army NSPS website for organizations that may want to make use of them.

What continued efforts does Army have planned for the future?
The Army has identified approximately 450 employees to transition in December 2008 as part of Spiral 23E. There are approximately 3,000 non-bargaining unit employees eligible for NSPS coverage that have been excluded from Spiral 2.

Revisions to Army policies and instructions are under way to incorporate changes from the enabling regulations, DoD Implementing Issuances, and policies. The Army will evaluate the implementation of NSPS and make adjustments in guidance as needed.

Communication and training efforts continue. Course curriculum will incorporate training on soft skills, compensation strategies, coaching, and counseling. On-line training and orientation by supervisors will continue to be offered to employees. Human resource practitioners will be trained through a variety of courses that combine the legacy and the NSPS personnel systems to assure they are proficient in all aspects of the personnel systems.

Why is this important to the Army?
The implementation of the NSPS is a cornerstone to achieving the Army's human capital transformation goals. The NSPS ambitiously reshapes the old rules governing Civilian employees and offers an environment where employees are encouraged to excel, challenged with meaningful work, and rewarded for their contributions. The system gives the Army improved opportunities to accomplish the challenges it now faces; and in the future supervisors and employees will both be held accountable for results.

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