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Washington, D.C. - Members of a Senate committee looking into proposed reforms at the Department of Defense yesterday were reassured contemporary pay and classification systems designed for the agency meet the tests of merit and Veterans Preference, and contain elements of alternate systems successfully tried and implemented in federal agencies.
U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Linda M. Springer said the proposed National Security Personnel System (NSPS) will recognize and reward the best-performing employees, giving the agency an important recruitment tool, while leaving it with the ability to respond and adjust to evolving mission needs.
"The primary purpose of any modern human resource system is to enhance the organization's ability to accomplish its mission," Springer told the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "Putting ‘mission first' is a fundamental guiding principle inherent in our design of the NSPS. This principle recognizes the need for the Department's new HR system to be responsive to an ever-changing environment."
In 2004, Congress authorized the DOD, in consultation with OPM, to develop and implement a new HR system for 700,000 civilian defense employees. To facilitate the process, Defense and OPM officials have partnered in hundreds of open and inclusive meetings with employees, managers, unions leaders, Members of Congress, veterans and other key stakeholders to develop regulations.
"OPM's role in the partnership with DOD was to balance the ‘mission-first' requirement with the needs of its work force," said Springer. "While some aspects of the current civil service system must change...the core values of the civil service will endure; they will not change."
Springer said the NSPS guards against prohibited personnel practices and protects whistleblowers. She added the system maintains employee due-process rights and collective bargaining, while promoting Veterans' Preference, "a privilege earned....through personal sacrifice."
Springer expressed confidence in the contribution of DOD's more than two decades of experience with alternative personnel systems for 45,000 employees toward the ultimate "successful implementation" of NSPS. NSPS will be rolled out in stages - or spirals - over several years. Spiral One will cover no more than 300,000 employees.
In closing, Springer said OPM's partnership with Defense will continue, adding the HR agency will use its oversight responsibility to ensure NSPS adheres to merit principles and the core values of the civil service, as envisioned.
Director Springer's testimony is located on OPM's website at www.opm.gov/news_events/congress/testimony/index.asp .
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.