Pentagon to review Bush pay-for-performance program

The Obama administration announced Monday that it will review a controversial Pentagon personnel system, implemented by President Bush, that pays employees by performance.

Federal employee unions have been trying to kill the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) since it was started in 2006, and Obama said during the presidential campaign that he would strongly consider a complete repeal of the system. If dismantled, it would be another example of Obama repealing a controversial Bush practice.

NSPS represented President Bush’s attempt to do away with the General Schedule — better known as GS — classification system. Many federal workers strongly object to the NSPS pay-for-performance model because they don't trust the employee rating system that affects pay raises.

After consulting with the Office of Management and Budget on Monday, Obama’s deputy secretary of Defense, Bill Lynn, announced plans to review the endeavor.

“This administration is committed to operating fair, transparent and effective personnel systems, and we are undertaking this review to assess whether NSPS meets these objectives,” Lynn said in a statement.  “We recognize that varying viewpoints exist regarding NSPS, and given the scope and complexity of the system, it is important for leadership to conduct its own review of the program.”

The Pentagon will halt the transition of approximately 2,000 Pentagon employees to the new system while the review is ongoing. The employees who have already transitioned to the new system will stay there, according to a Pentagon statement.

NSPS implementation, which began in 2006, changed the way Pentagon civilians are hired, compensated, promoted and rewarded.  The system currently covers approximately 205,000 Pentagon employees.

In February, key House defense authorizers urged Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stop moving civilian employees into the NSPS.

In a letter, panel Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) told Gates the personnel system has resulted in “widespread distrust and discontent within the ranks of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated DOD employees.”