By Ms. Arwen Consaul, U.S. Army South Public AffairsApril 21, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - U.S. Army South is preparing for the upcoming conversion of National Security Personnel System (NSPS) employees to the General Schedule (GS), beginning May 23.
"The Defense Authorization Act 2010 passed in Sept. 2009," said Ms. Audrey Golding, Chief, Civilian Human Resources Branch with Army South. "The act delineated that NSPS positions needed to be classified under the GS system and will no longer fall under NSPS rules."
The Army has been preparing for this conversion and plans to have 75 percent of its employee's transition out of the NSPS system by the end of the fiscal year.
"Because we are transitioning and moving fast, many people will have questions and concerns about converting to the GS system," said Golding. "However, performance expectation under the GS system shouldn't be any different than the current NSPS system. We are still going to be required to evaluate performance and achieve Army goals."
The first step in converting a position from NSPS to GS is determining the appropriate grade. Many Army organizations show the "GS Equivalency" on their NSPS position descriptions. If the NSPS position description does not contain a GS equivalency statement, the Director with Delegated Classification Authority will determine the conversion grade based on the duties being performed and following GS classification rules. Once the grade of the position has been determined, salary will be set to one of the steps within that grade:
1. If the NSPS base salary matches a step within the grade, the employee will be placed on that step.
2. If the NSPS base salary is below the first step of the grade, the salary will be increased to match Step 1.
3. If the NSPS base salary falls between 2 steps within the grade, the salary will be increased to match the higher step.
4. If the NSPS base salary exceeds step 10 of the grade, the salary will remain unchanged, and the employee placed on retain pay indefinitely.
Once the transition occurs employees will receive an SF-50 that identifies their Pay Plan (GS), their grade (GS-1 through GS-15) and their step (1 through 10).
Golding also pointed out that no employee will lose pay after the conversion and that future GS employees will be evaluated on the Total Army Performance Evaluation System (TAPES) system.
After the conversion process in May, the TAPES rating period for all transitioned GS employees will be from Oct 1, 2009 to Oct. 31, 2010. There will be an interim review conducted by May 21. The rating cycle for the following year begins Nov. 1 and the TAPES will then break will down the evaluations based on the pay grade of the GS employee. For pay grades of GS-13 to GS-15 the rating cycle begins July 1 to June 30. For those GS-9 to GS-12 the process will be from Nov 1 and ends Oct. 31 and for those below GS-8, the evaluation process will be from May 1 to 30 April.
Another difference between the NSPS system and the GS system is pay for performance.
"NSPS was a pay for performance system," said Golding. "In the GS system you can get rewarded three ways. There is the Performance bonus, a time off award or quality step increase. The first two awards do not affect the employees overall annual pay."
A quality step increase is a performance bonus awarded to the employee at the time of the performance. It can only be awarded once in a 52-week time period. A general step increase from 1 to 10 is based on time. To increase from step 1 to 4 takes one year. To increase from step 4 to 7 is two years and an increase from Step 7 to 10 takes three years in grade. A general step increase, however, is not guaranteed under the GS system:
"If an employee is not performing a supervisor can delay their step increase," said Golding.
Since the GS system is also based on time in grade, many employees were concerned about when their time would start under the conversion.
"Employees last equivalent increase will be determined by certain pay action, such as performance pay-out in 2010, reassignment, or date the employee assigned to the organization, said Golding. "The date for within grade Increase will differ based on individual circumstance."
The conversion to GS will begin May 23 at Army South. Since the interim is required by May 21, Golding recommends that employees use their NSPS objectives as a starting point for implementing objectives under TAPES.
"The GS system is still performance driven and all converted employees will need to have new job objectives to base their performance on." said Golding.
Under the conversion process employees under the Acquisition Demonstration Project, Scientific and Technology Reinvention Laboratories, physicians and dentists and other health care professionals will not be converted to GS.
For more information about the NSPS to GS conversion, please visit: Army's NSPS Website - Repeal section at: http://cpol.army.mil/library/general/nsps/repeal.html
DoD NSPS Website at: http://www.cpms.osd.mil/nsps/
NSPS Connect at: http://www.cpms.osd.mil/nsps/nspsconnect