Is There Life After the NSPS?

If you’re the type who gets excited/angry/elated over government personnel “reforms” you probably have an opinion on the National Security Personnel System. That’s a Defense Department pay-for-performance system that, at one time, was the blueprint all other agencies were supposed to follow.

With NSPS, as with other experimental HR rollouts, timing is everything. Many of the people who hated it at the beginning are now protesting its demise.

Back when it was being developed, many feds (and all federal unions) feared or opposed it. They argued that it was developed in secrecy and rammed through by a Republican Congress and Republican White House. They said there was little or no effort to get feds to into it, that it was a top-down program and that favoritism, not merit, would be SOP.

Now that NSPS is being dismantled by order of a Democratic Congress and Democratic White House, many one-time critics say it’s a darn shame. That NSPS worked, with big raises for achievers, and that thousands will lose out when they are put back into the GS system. For some, whose NSPS salaries far exceed the rates of their former GS grade level, it will mean they will get only half of each January pay raise until their salary catches up with their grade.

Management groups now are making the same complaint that rank-and-file unions had about NSPS: That is that the changes are being made too quickly. Most of the 200,000 plus people in the NSPS are targeted for return to their GS levels by October of this year.

Randy Erwin, legislative director of the National Federation of Federal Employees, says the last rites for the NSPS can’t come soon enough for him. Appearing yesterday on our Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show, Erwin said some workers got inflated raises under NSPS because Defense “threw money” at the program to make people happy. But he said the raises, which averaged nearly 9 percent, “were unsustainable.”

What’s next?

Labor organizations that hated NSPS from day one, and management groups who learned to love it are now waiting to see what new (possibly more drastic) reforms will be proposed by the Obama administration. A lot of them don’t like some of the proposals that have been leaked, or guessed at.

What neither side wants is a set of reforms that will be the equivalent of NSPS-Lite. That is controversial, mysterious, proposing too-much-change-too-soon. Which, although this is serious and often costly stuff, is what makes Washington go round. If you don’t like whatever is happening at the moment, just wait. It’ll change.

No Cal Retiree COLA

Many federal/postal retirees are unhappy that they didn’t get a cost of living adjustment last January, and probably won’t get one in 2011. They say it is unfair to give federal workers a raise and deny retirees an inflation-catch up, even without inflation. Read this account and then check out the comments.

But some retirees appreciate the fact that inflation is at near record low levels. For example:

    “I cringe every time you bring up this COLA thing because there are always some retirees that will start moaning about no COLA. As I said last year, we don’t want another $250. One year the boneheads in Congress may want to cut our pension amount to satisfy some made up fiasco they caused.

    “We retirees should acccept the COLA and if they don’t like the formula then complain about that. Prices are going DOWN here in Las Vegas. Housing is probably the best deal of any housing in this country. The grocery stores have warned on pricing downward. The city has endless entertainment and great food and is made for the outdoor enthusiast. As long as you don’t do too much gambling and drinking, this place is a paradise.” Michael O. Kreps.

To reach me:

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

From Wikipedia’s List of humorous units of measurement, the barn is a measurement of area equal to 1.0 × 10−28 m2, and the outhouse(1.0 × 10−6 barns) and shed (1.0 × 10−24 barns) “are derived by analogy.”


How to maximize your investment portfolio
Wanna be a millionaire by the time you retire? This week on Your Turn, Senior Correspondent Mike Causey talks with investment guru Allan Roth about how you might be able to achieve that goal. Also, there’s a lot happening on Capitol Hill, including discussion of some bills that could affect your pay & benefits. Randy Erwin of the National Federation of Federal Employees fills us in. For more, click here.

OPM proposes new dates for FEHBP open season
The health insurance open season for federal employees and retirees could be moving up a couple of weeks on the calendar. The Office of Personnel Management wants to hold the month-long open season starting November 1st. For more, click here.

TSP board nominees urge education
Two nominees to the Thrift Savings Plan board want to encourage young federal employees and members of the military to save for retirement. They say young federal workers need to be educated about the benefits of early savings participation. For more, click here.

SBA considers partial relocation to Denver
The Small Business Administration could move its internal acquisition arm out of Washington. For more, click here.


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