February 18, 2009
Christina Erling

Department of Defense Releases Murky Job Performance Numbers

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees today questioned the ambiguous performance based payouts for National Security Personnel System (NSPS) employees. “The fact that the Department of Defense is touting an average 8.35% increase in raises and bonuses for NSPS employees is misleading,” stated Jacque Simon, AFGE public policy director. “The ‘average’ is a meaningless number when you’re talking about NSPS adjustments. We don’t know anything about how the raises and bonuses were distributed, or whether all workers with the same performance ratings got the same sized raises.”

NSPS rates employees on a scale from one to five; with a “one” getting no pay increase and “five” called a “role model” eligible for large payouts. “There are so many questions when it comes to NSPS and with these deceptive numbers, one might mistakenly believe that NSPS is more generous or more market-oriented than the General Schedule. That’s just not the case,” explained Simon.

Comparing NSPS to the GS raise is misguided for several reasons: the amount of money used to finance the NSPS raises and bonuses this year is the same amount that would have funded GS locality pay, GS Employment Cost Index (ECI) raises, GS step increases, and GS bonuses for the employees now under NSPS. Thus, if anybody has done better under NSPS than they would have with GS it is only because a coworker has done worse.

The list of questions surrounding these data is endless. “Workers and taxpayers deserve to have answers,” said Simon. “We don't know whether there is any logic or fairness to the distribution. For example, were women, minorities, older workers, and workers in lower-banded positions given smaller raises than those in other demographic groups? Did some DoD components get disproportionate shares of salary funds? What is the rationale behind the division of funds between raises and bonus payments? Were older workers more likely to get their increases in the form of bonuses that don't count toward their ‘high 3’ for retirement?”

“The DoD has yet to prove that neither discrimination nor politics has played a role in how NSPS raises and bonuses were distributed this year. NSPS is still operated under the cloak of darkness,” concluded Simon. “It’s time to put transparency back into the pay system and abolish NSPS.”

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