I want to tell to you about the new way the Department of Defense is compensating Civilian Employees. The National Security Personnel System has been place for a few years now, but only recently has it affected our Garrison workforce.

In November 2007, our U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan civilian supervisors and some non-union workers left the "GS" system and entered into a pay-for-performance system commonly referred to as "NSPS."

As more Garrison employees enter into this new system, it may be advantageous for you to understand how it works.

In mid-May, we practiced the first step to reward our quality employees for the great work they do. We did this by conducting a mock "pay pool."

NSPS evaluates performance in three steps. Employees submit self assessments, and raters write evaluations and suggest a rating. Then, six Garrison managers review the packets, discuss and vote on the rating. Our Deputy Garrison Commander is the manager for the pay pool, and he rules on ties, moderates disputes and has the final say for the Pay Pool rating for each employee. As the Garrison Commander, I am the final review authority for any appeals.

This is how we do it at USAG-Yongsan, other units such as 8th U.S. Army or 18th Medical Command may vary the process with their own local rules.

NSPS ratings are important because they translate into how many shares the NSPS employee receives at the completion of the year.

For example, Ms. Jane Doe has been a great performer throughout the rating period. She met all of the objectives in her performance plan without any assistance. Her self assessment and supervisor evaluation bear out that she is a model employee. The Pay Pool votes and she receives a rating of "3" on a scale of 1 to 5. This is a good rating.

Ms. Doe will receive a reward of one to two "shares." The shares may be divided into bonus or salary increase, or a combination. The value of each share will depend on the employee's salary, the cost of living increase, the Defense Department contribution and the amount of money the Garrison has budgeted for performance awards.

In the past, there has been a potential for "rating creep." Because only the rater and senior rater ever reviewed the ratings under the old system, they could have been inflated and not justified. Under NSPS, the pay pool panel has vigorous discussions while reviewing a rating and may even have the rater provide additional input, if needed.

The good news is that a rating of "3" means "valued performer." Anything above this threshold must be justified by quantifiable accomplishments, achievements or other contributing factors.

In our mock pay pool we rated 38 employees. Only one person received a "2" rating, which means that person has some work to do. The great majority of our workforce earned a "3" rating. Only four employees earned a "4" rating. As you can see, a "4" is rare. The employees who earn a "4" are key performers who have demonstrated their value to the organization far above their peers.

The Garrison Pay Pool will meet again in November to review the real self assessments, evaluations and rating. The first payout to our NSPS employees will occur in January 2009. This practice session brought out many "lessons learned" and overall was a great educational tool for both our employees and managers.

I believe NSPS will encourage our workforce to aim for higher ratings. In turn, we will better serve our community members. At the Garrison, our mission is to provide excellence in installation management and customer support while continuously improving quality of life in the U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan community. We want to reward our employees for excelling at this vital mission and NSPS is the way to do it!