Thousands of defense workers switching to General Schedule pay system

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 27, 2010; B03

More than 100,000 Defense Department workers paid through the National Security Personnel System will switch to the General Schedule pay system by the end of June, according to the office that oversees the pay-for-performance plan, repealed last year by Congress.

According to documents posted on the NSPS Web site, more than 8,100 workers will have transitioned by the end of the month; 50,728 will do so in May; and 44,115 workers will move in June. More than 169,000 of the roughly 226,000 workers in the program will be on the GS system by the end of the fiscal year in September, the NSPS transition office said. Congress mandated an end to the NSPS by the start of 2012, meaning the transition will be well ahead of schedule if the timetable holds.

About 75 percent of workers on the NSPS will go to the GS system, and the remainder will join smaller demonstration programs for contract acquisition officers, military lab workers or organizations going through Base Realignment and Closure. Those other transitions will occur in fiscal 2011.

No Defense Department employees will lose pay in the transition from NSPS to GS, according to John H. James Jr., the Pentagon official leading the transition.

"When an employee transitions out of NSPS, the classification of his or her position into the General Schedule system is based on duties and responsibilities," James said in a statement on the NSPS Web site.

About 30 percent of civilian Defense Department employees fell under NSPS jurisdiction, the Pentagon says. President George W. Bush's administration pushed for the program and Congress approved it in 2003, but then repealed it in October as part of a House-Senate compromise over the Defense Authorization bill.

The Pentagon will maintain more performance management and hiring flexibilities than other federal agencies and cannot enact a new performance system without congressional approval.

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