GAO: DoD lacks plan to evaluate transitioned NSPS employees

Brenda Farrell, Director of Defense Capabilities and Management Issues, GAO

wfedstaff | June 4, 2015 12:04 am

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

The Defense Department lacks details for how it will evaluate its 226,000 civilian employees after they transition from the merit-based National Security Personnel System to the General Schedule by the end of this year.

The Government Accountability Office issued testimony Thursday to the House Committee on Armed Services saying DoD has started designing a new enterprisewide performance management system, but the department has no documented goals or a timeline for designing the new system.

“We agree that it may be too early to define what DoD’s final goals are for a new performance management system; however, by now having interim goals and a timeline that linked to funding, DoD is not positioned to determine whether it is making progress or if resources are appropriate for near-term efforts,” wrote Brenda Farrell, GAO director of Defense Capabilities and Management Issues.


NSPS was established in 2004 to give managers flexibility in hiring and promoting DoD civilian employees. The system was criticized for inconsistencies and pay inequities, leading to a decision to end NSPS as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010.

Under the Act, NSPS employees were ensured they would not lose pay as a result of the transition. DoD reported to Congress that it would cost $238.6 million in fiscal year 2011. However, the Pentagon has not offered supporting documentation on how it got to that budget number, Ferrell wrote. She added that GAO had found inconsistencies in cost data.

The transition itself has been on schedule and “very successful,” said John James, director of National Security Personnel System Transition Office, in an interview with Federal News Radio in October 2010. At that time, 75 percent of NSPS employees had transitioned to the GS. The deadline to transition all employees is Jan. 1, 2012.

GAO reports the remaining 53,000 employees will complete the transition in five groups:

  • Employees in 30 health care provider occupations – July to December 2011.
  • Employees in other miscellaneous categories (deployed civilians and those affected by base realignment and closure activities) – no later than December 2011.
  • Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories – February to April 2011
  • Acquisition Demonstration Project – March to June 2011
  • Physicians and Dentists Pay Plan – June 2011


NSPS transition 75 percent complete

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