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Federal managers warn of financial hit for some DOD workers

By Ed O'Keefe

By The Post's Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson:

As thousands of Defense Department civilian workers transition from a pay-for-performance system to the General Schedule, the Federal Managers Association says many of them will be financially hurt despite assurances in the law that they should not be.

When Congress told the Defense Department to end its National Security Personnel System, legislators explicitly said employees should not suffer any decrease or loss of pay. But that may not be the case.

Some NSPS staffers returning to the GS are paid more than their GS level allows. Their pay will not decrease, but under a system called "pay retention," their raises will be limited to half of the regular GS increases until the pay rate for their classification catches up to their wage.

"Many of these dedicated employees have crunched the numbers and determined that the General Schedule will not 'catch up' with them by the time they retire over the next decade," FMA President Patricia J. Niehaus, wrote in a May 14 letter to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "This is unacceptable."

Pay retention also affects the workers' potential retirement income, which is based on the "high three" years of average pay over three consecutive years.

"No employee should lose current, future or retirement pay as a result of a pay cap when converting back to the General Schedule," Niehaus added.

In her letter, she cited a portion of the U.S. Code that she said "would allow DOD to circumvent pay retention rules under certain circumstances" and asked Congress to "take action to ensure high-performing DOD civil servants receive the compensation they have rightfully earned before they are forced to endure the effects of this unjust policy."

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 17, 2010; 1:35 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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There are thousands of people losing 5% pay due to BRAC relocation to Maryland from New Jersey. Many of them highly rated and close to retirement. They will not receive safe pay like those in NSPS. You can't complain when you are not losing money and had the opportunity to make more money all those years on NSPS.

Posted by: ralphliguori | May 18, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

If this is the case, then this proves that the NSPS system was flawed from the beginning. Is was not any more fair than the GS system. It was favoritism raised to an unmonitored level. It gave too much power and authority to "managers" and "supervisors" who are just as suseptible to bias as anyone else, sometimes moreso. The basic weakness of the federal sysem is its so called managers, most of whom are unfit, untrained and unacceptable as managers. Most got their positions the old fashioned way, by who they knew or by default. Most still perpetuate the old ways. It's hard to beleive that there are so many "exceptional" employees whose pay now exceed what they would have made under the GS system, enen at step 10. That in itself is suspicious. But then again, it's the federal government.

Posted by: LTCRETUSAR | May 18, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Another political blunder by the "Political Mafia". The answer is to raise the current GS caps to the pay-for-performance levels. I highly doubt that these people where any more exceptional than your average dedicated GS employee, who are already far behind in pay compared to the private sector.

Posted by: lac13 | May 18, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Oh yes, let's not worry about the millions of private sector jobs or the people who lost them, many over two years ago and who have spent EVERYTHING they ever accumulated just keep a roof over their heads and food on the table for the kids, or the true cost of the new health care bill which we were lied to about, much less our trillions of dollars in deficit...let's worry about keeping a bloated bureaucracy and all it's "drifters" in regular paychecks AND proper retirement funds....
That way we can end up just like the Greeks, and we know how good they have it!

Posted by: bdavidarmitage | May 18, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Lets see, DoD hires and rewards its best workers with greater pay raises under a system that permits and encourages it (NSPS) then changes the system back to the broken system of old (GS), and punishes those hihly successful workers by reducing future government wide raises until they are equal to everyone else-all so everyone fits within the broken old "pass/fail" GS system. Does anyone see a problem here? Socialism 101!

Posted by: Sarah2012 | May 18, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I fail to see how not losing pay is a problem. My wife's school district has not given a pay raise in 2 years and expects to not be able to provide a raise next year. I have friends out of work or working for less money. I have zero pity for these workers.

And for LAC13, try goggling private vs government pay and you will find that most GS employees make more than their private industry counterpart.

Posted by: Barnacle-Bill | May 18, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

First off folks, not all GS employees were given a choice in the matter, and many of them did not want to migrate to NSPS but were forced to. Not all NSPS'ers faired as well as you think, the system required a panel of base officials to decide if you were worthy of getting a performance pay increase and the pot was limited so the choice money went to those who were more popular then others. You supervisor had input on your performance but not how much you would get. It also made folks very vulnerable because they could eliminate you much easier then if you were a GS. I'm happy going back to GS, never wanted NSPS to begin with, and as far as I'm concerned LTCRETUSAR, there are just as many unfit pampered, buddies on the active duty side as well as the civilian corporations. How many common hard working folks working for the banking system received millions of dollars in bonuses, bet only a few chosen individuals....

Posted by: jamescampbell3 | May 18, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Employees under NSPS should be grateful. If they had remained under the GS system, what would be their salary? NSPS employees received Grace and Mercy.

Posted by: rspears733 | May 18, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

bdavidarmitage | May 18, 2010 11:37 AM, you should be ashamed of yourself. The people you are talking about, along with other national security officers -- whose pay and benefits you would gladly cut -- are the the very patriots who risk their limbs and lives every day to defend our nation. These are the people who allow people like you to have the opportunity to have a roof over your your head and a table to feed your kids on.

While people like you are out taking from the country and whining about it, these are the people giving back, many making the ultimate sacrifice. They deserve nothing but respect!!! This has nothing to do with your petty attempt at partisan politics.

Posted by: mcdangerous | May 19, 2010 6:52 AM | Report abuse

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