WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today learned that the Department of Defense (DoD) is delaying some aspects of its proposed National Security Personnel System (NSPS) until October 2006. This new development follows DoD’s December 2005 decision to delay training on the new personnel system.
AFGE has argued that NSPS stands to devastate the federal workforce by gutting worker pay, eliminating collective bargaining rights, rendering whistleblower protections moot and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars. AFGE, along with several other unions, filed suit against DoD to halt the implementation of portions of NSPS in February 2005. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for next Tuesday, Jan. 24.
DoD released the final NSPS regulations in early 2005 with an eye toward beginning system implementation in the summer or fall of 2005. However, legal challenges from AFGE, along with its union coalition partners, have delayed implementation. AFGE now has learned that instead of full execution, DoD will implement a pilot version of NSPS in employee spirals. Under the revised schedule, Spiral 1.1, which includes 11,000 employees, would start implementation in late April 2006, Spiral 1.2 would begin in October 2006 and Spiral 1.3 would start in January 2007.
“All these delays prove what we’ve been saying all along—NSPS is a sinking ship,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “If you look at DoD’s recent actions, it is clear that they are not ready to implement such a far-reaching system. It was ill conceived from the start, and we tried to offer sensible recommendations that were fair to government employees. DoD now needs to face the facts, scrap what they have and start over.”
In a Dec. 23, 2005 letter, NSPS Program Executive Officer Mary Lacey told managers to put all January 2006 content-specific NSPS training on hold until March 2006 with the only exception being the Naval Sea Systems Command. Additionally, Lacey said her office “received much feedback in the course of all these activities that lead us to conclude we need more time to focus on simplifying the performance management design…”
In creating NSPS, AFGE feels DoD defied Congress by refusing to engage in any meaningful collaboration with the unions that represent the department’s employees, as called for in the defense authorization legislation that authorized the creation of the new personnel system.
If implemented as currently planned, NSPS would affect more than 700,000 DoD workers.
“There’s also the issue of cost,” continued Gage. “Estimates say that implementing NSPS in just the first spiral may cost $75 million or more. At a time when our troops are fighting for their lives and need every possible resource, implementing this severely flawed and incomplete system would be a grotesque misuse of taxpayer dollars.”