The head of the National Security Personnel System has defended its use at the Pentagon in the face of congressional and employee criticism.
In an interview with Tom Temin and Jane Norris on Thursday’s Federal Drive, NSPS Executive Officer Brad Bunn acknowledged that the vast majority of civilian Defense Department employees in the NSPS received performance awards in January. He said the Pentagon was making this information public in the “spirit of transparency.”
According to Bunn, close to 170,000 of the 200,000 employees subject to review under the provisions of the NSPS received performance-based payouts for 2009. He noted, however, that the NSPS, unlike the General Schedule system, does not provide for longevity-based, or in-grade step, increases.
“We also no longer have as many promotions,” added Bunn, “so what we’ve done is we’ve absorbed the funds associated with those kinds of increases that are typical under GS into the annual increase under the pay-for-performance system.”
As a result, Bunn said, it is unfair to attempt to make a straight comparison between increases in employees’ salaries under the two systems.
Bunn admitted that the introduction of the NSPS has generated controversy. He said it is taking three to five years for many employees to accept what he called a “huge transformational change.”
“It’s a huge culture shock for the workforce go from a system where performance management wasn’t done very well and done very often to one that’s very rigorous,” Bunn explained.
The head of the NSPS added that “we’re still trying to build that trust that we need to have in order to have a high-performing workforce.”
Part of his role now, Bunn said, is to let the Obama administration and Congress know how the NSPS has worked up to this point. “What I want to do is make sure all the facts are out there,” he added, “and then certainly we will follow the policy agenda as they lay it out.”