"Although the regulations do provide for continuing collaboration with employee representatives, they do not identify a process for the continuing involvement of individual employees in the implementation of NSPS," Walker said at a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management.
The hearing was called after the Defense Department issued final regulations on NSPS in the Federal Register. The new personnel system is designed to replace automatic across-the-board and within-grade pay increases with performance-based raises, collapse the General Schedule grades into broad pay bands with increased pay flexibility and streamline collective bargaining.
An NSPS spokesperson said about 60 percent of Defense's civilian employees are represented by labor unions - leaving 40 percent of civilian employees out of the loop.
"We're very concerned about the employees who are not represented by unions," said GAO's Derek Stewart, director of defense capabilities and management. "GAO cannot overemphasize the importance of getting input from every employee ... not just those represented by the unions."
Stewart said GAO recommended in July that the Pentagon develop a communications strategy that caters to individual concerns, not just those of unions. That strategy would include posting every implementing issuance on a Web site and allowing 30 days of comment, and taking feedback surveys for each issuance.
The final regulations do not meet this recommendation, Stewart said.
Federal Managers Association president Michael Styles testified at the same hearing that he is concerned his group will not be formally recognized by the secretary of Defense under the new rules, and will be locked out of dialogue.
NSPS final regulations state that the department "may request views and comments from representatives of other employee groups, such as a managers' association."
FMA is a nonprofit group representing managers and supervisors in the government. It does not bargain on behalf of its membership, but it advocates for them and is included in some discussions on workplace issues.
Styles called for the department to insert language into the NSPS regulations mirroring existing requirements from which Defense is exempt under the new personnel system. Those requirements would make the Pentagon formally recognize FMA. He also asked department leadership to set up regular monthly or bimonthly meetings with his group.
"The recognition of management organizations such as FMA is a fundamental part of maintaining a collaborative and congenial work environment," Styles said. Under the current personnel system, FMA can "come to the table with DoD leadership and discuss issues that affect managers, supervisors and executives," he said.