Eglin, Patrick among bases to test new defense personnel system

Ten labor unions are suing to stop the new National Security Personnel System that some critics say will make hiring, promotions, transfers and pay raises more political, but Air Force officials plan to begin the program.

"We have not been told to pull back," said Lorene Stanford, director of the system's program office at Eglin.

This installation in the Florida Panhandle and Patrick Air Force Base near Cape Canaveral are among the first Air Force sites where it is to go into effect on a trial basis beginning in July.

Others are the Pentagon, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.; March Air Reserve Base, Calif.; McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.; Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

Stanford said it has many advantages including better control for managers over payroll and could result in higher starting pay to new college graduates who show promise. It also would scrap a ranking system that assures employees of pay raises based on seniority.

Rocky Tasse, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1942, which represents more than 1,000 white-collar workers at Eglin, acknowledged the new system isn't all "doom and gloom," but he is worried it could create a "good old boy" network depending more on appeasing bosses than work quality.

Tasse also is troubled by the prospect employees unconstrained by family obligations would be favored over those who are because they can work longer and more flexible schedules.

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