(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE, today testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on the progress being made to transition employees out of the, now repealed, National Security Personnel System (NSPS) and back into the General Schedule (GS) System. The testimony was delivered by Patty Viers, president of AFGE Local 1148 and vice chair of AFGE’s DEFCON, which represents 260,000 federal employees in the Department of Defense. In her testimony, Viers addressed the new authorities granted to the Department of Defense (DoD) under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2010.
As a result of Section 1113 of the FY 2010 NDAA, NSPS was repealed and DoD was given until January 1, 2012 to convert employees under NSPS back to their prior systems, with the vast majority to be put back into the GS System. The NDAA also granted DoD the authority to create a new performance management system, workforce incentives, and hiring flexibilities as long as they remain within the GS System. AFGE and other unions in DoD have been meeting with the NSPS Transition Office, including John James, NSPS Transition Officer for pre-decisional meetings to exchange ideas on how best to carry out these new authorities.
“Our meetings with Mr. James have been frank and candid,” said Viers. “We are putting particular emphasis on the difficulties in trying to achieve a balance between the need to take time to do things carefully and the need to move quickly on the NDAA 2010 authorities.”
As part of its pre-decisional involvement, AFGE has offered several considerations, namely, simplifying the notion of a performance management system. “It was clear to us from the beginning that one of the fatal flaws of NSPS was its overly complex ratings system,” said Viers. “We believe that any future system should first and foremost provide employees with what is expected of them and let them know what they need to do to meet those expectations. It is equally important that the system include employee involvement in such a way as to expand their strengths and improve their weaknesses.”
Viers also commented that the current GS system includes enough flexibility to accomplish these goals. “The current GS system was created as a performance based system that includes within it numerous mechanisms to reward good or great performance, attract and retain talent, and address areas of needed improvement. However, in order to use this system most effectively, supervisors must receive adequate training on its benefits and the programs must be funded sufficiently.”
AFGE plans to continue to work in partnership with the NSPS Transition Office and the other DoD unions to provide the best opportunity for employees and in turn to provide the best service for the American public.