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Smaller pay raises to come for thousands of DoD employees

Dec. 7, 2009 - 06:18PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Darryl Perkinson

About 4,000 Defense Department employees now under the soon-to-be-canceled National Security Personnel System could see their future pay raises halved as they are transferred back to the General Schedule system.

Tim Curry, NSPS' acting program executive officer, told Federal Times Dec. 7 that those employees have received large pay raises under Defense's pay-for-performance system. Because of those large raises, about 4,000 employees now exceed the salary caps for their corresponding GS grade, Curry said.

The 2010 Defense Authorization Act, which ordered the Pentagon to cancel NSPS and shift its 220,000 employees back to the GS or their other previous system by 2012, said no employee will have his pay reduced because of the transition.

But Curry said that former NSPS employees who exceed their GS caps will be placed under pay retention, meaning they will receive half of the regular salary adjustment federal employees receive each January until future pay raises enable the GS pay scales to catch up to the employee. Curry said the first wave of employees leaving NSPS will make the transition as early as February.

Federal Managers Association President Darryl Perkinson called the Pentagon's plans to dock pay raises a travesty and a "nightmare" scenario that is now coming true.

"That is one of the worst messages to send to federal employees," Perkinson said. "Now they're going to get shafted. What was their reward for going on to a system they didn't ask for, and had no choice?"

Curry said the Pentagon does not have the authority to shift highly paid NSPS employees to the next grade level to give them room to receive future pay raises.

But Perkinson said the Pentagon needs to do more to protect those employees. He suggested extending the pay ceiling for those employees, or creating additional steps just for them.

"That's just a cop-out," Perkinson said. "We make exemptions in the government all the time. I don't see why it's got to be so hard."

Perkinson is also worried that the Pentagon's decision will demoralize those 4,000 employees after being rewarded for being the department's "best and brightest," and worries they may feel slighted and leave for the private sector.

"What kind of productivity do you think those people will have?" Perkinson said. "If we'll treat 4,000 of our best and brightest this way, what message do you think we're sending to young people?"

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