MESSAGES and QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR NATIONAL SECURITY ...
MESSAGES and QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
PERSONNEL SYSTEM SPIRAL ONE ANNOUNCEMENT
DECEMBER 15, 2004
KEY MESSAGES ON SPIRAL ONE:
Participants in Spiral One have the opportunity to be a part of an historic opportunity to
shape the future of the civil service management system
Spiral One includes up to 300,000 General Schedule/General Manager, U.S-based employees
from Army, Navy, Air Force and the DoD agencies; Spiral One will be in three phases over
an 18-month period, with the first phase scheduled for as early as July 2005
Spiral Two will include the remainder of the eligible workforce and will be initiated after a
system assessment of Spiral One and after the Secretary of Defense certification of the
Department’s performance management system. Spiral Three will comprise the DoD labs
should current legislative restrictions be eliminated.
Training of supervisors and employees in both functional requirements and communications
skills is critical to the success of NSPS and is already in development
The NSPS Program Executive Office will be counting on feedback from Spiral One
participants to assist in identifying any necessary improvements to the system
NSPS development has been a broad based, participative process involving hundreds of DoD
employees, managers, supervisors, our labor partners and other key stakeholders
NSPS will provide the Department of Defense with a modern, flexible and agile human
resources system that can be more responsive to the national security environment, while
preserving employee protections and benefits.
NSPS will allow DoD to manage strategically its civilian workforce based on a total force
The role of DoD’s civilian workforce is expanding to include more significant participation
in combat support functions that will allow military personnel to focus on war fighting duties
– NSPS will provide flexibilities in hiring and reassigning of employees that will facilitate
NSPS will enable DoD to hire more quickly, offer competitive salaries, and compensate and
reward our employees based on their performance and contribution to our mission
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. Can you tell me what the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) is?
Answer: The National Security Personnel System (NSPS) is a new human resources
management system, which is being developed by the Department of Defense with the Office
of Personnel Management. NSPS will establish new rules for how civilians are hired,
assigned, compensated, promoted, and disciplined. NSPS will also have elements that
address the Department's labor relations. This will all be within the framework of merit
principles, veterans' preference, and employees' rights to organize and bargain collectively.
NSPS will strengthen DoD civilian employees' ability to accomplish the mission in an ever-
changing national security environment.
The NSPS will allow the Department to be a more competitive and progressive employer at a
time when the country's national security demands a highly responsive system of civilian
2. I’ve heard that one of the exciting things about the NSPS is that it will make
the Defense Department more competitive in its hiring capabilities; can you
tell me a little more about that?
Answer: NSPS will streamline hiring, simplify job changes, simplify the job classification
system, and simplify workforce shaping procedures. The new system will make it easier and
faster for prospective applicants to apply for DoD vacancies. On-board employees will see
simplified competitive procedures and streamlined application and referral processes. A
number of these features have already been demonstrated successfully in our Laboratory
Demonstration and Acquisition Demonstration projects. This is good news for both managers
3. For current employees, what is the most compelling change that will result
Answer: Employees will see a sea change in the overall way DoD manages its civilian
workforce. With NSPS, we’ll have a total force perspective; one where DoD civilians gain
an equal footing with their military counterparts in furthering DoD mission accomplishment.
We have attempted for years to convey a total force perspective and NSPS will emphasize
this, as employees will see their own performance goals and objectives closely aligned with
the DoD mission. NSPS will require employees to better understand organizational goals so
they can contribute to developing their individual goals.
4. For managers and supervisors, what is the most compelling change?
Answer: The NSPS performance management system is designed to recognize and reward
the performance and contributions of the DoD civilian workforce, and supervisors are
integral to the overall success of NSPS. A pay for performance system mandates frequent
and honest communication and performance feedback among managers, supervisors, and
employees. NSPS will not be successful if managers cannot effectively communicate
expectations. Managers are key to successful NSPS implementation.
5. Tell us more about the implementation strategy, or spirals, and how that will
Answer: The Department has adopted a spiral strategy for implementing the National
Security Personnel System across its civilian workforce. The spiral strategy will allow the
Department to manage the initial implementation and assess and evaluate the NSPS rules and
supporting systems so that refinements can be made prior to implementation throughout
Spiral One will comprise up to 300,000General Schedule/General Manager, CONUS
employees from Army, Navy, Air Force and the DoD agencies. The remainder of the
eligible workforce will be included in Spiral Two. Spiral Three will comprise the DoD labs
should current legislative restrictions be eliminated.
6. During the implementation phase, do you expect to make changes to the
Answer: As with any system, there may be some modest changes that will be necessary, but
we hope they will be limited. For instance, we may identify better ways for training the
workforce and may make some changes to training programs. Our experience with China
Lake and the acquisition and laboratory demonstration projects has given us a wealth of
valuable experience to rely upon in rolling out NSPS and we expect that any system changes
will be modest in scope.
7. Is there a timeline for the implementation phase?
Answer: Spiral 1.l, or the first phase of Spiral One, will be implemented as early as July
2005, with the remaining two phases of Spiral One to be rolled in over 6 month increments.
The NSPS law provides that the NSPS human resources system may not apply to
organizations with more than 300K employees until the Secretary of Defense determines and
certifies that the Department has a performance management system in place that meets the
statutory criteria established for the NSPS performance management system. Spiral One will
provide the basis for this certification prior to the deployment of Spiral Two.
8. Will there be adequate training for the workforce and when will that
Answer: Training is absolutely essential to the success of the program and we are already
working on development of the training. There will be two types of training: there will be
the training necessary to implement the system operationally, but there is also a requirement
to provide training in what we call soft skills – greater communication skills to facilitate
interaction between employee and supervisor, team building and conflict management, to
name a few– these will be just as critical to the program’s overall success as the nuts and
bolts of the system.
9. How does the NSPS help the Defense Department fight the global war on
Answer: We are fighting an enemy unlike any we have encountered before. We must make
adjustments to deal with this unconventional enemy and the civilian workforce is just as
integral to that effort as the military, reserves and guard. Secretary Rumsfeld has stated that
NSPS is a key element of the Department’s overall transformation initiative. NSPS will
provide the Department with flexibilities so we can reduce our reliance on the military to
perform jobs that could be performed by civilians in order to free up the military to perform
its war fighting duties. Furthermore, it is a performance-based system that will recognize and
reward outstanding performers. This will assist the Department in recruitment and retention
of our top performing employees – this will be critical in our fight against terrorism.
10. Over the next few years, what changes will DOD civilian employees notice?
Answer: The most significant change will be cultural. DoD civilians will feel a part of the
total force, and their jobs will take on new meaning, as they better understand how they are
linked to the Department’s overall objectives. They will also feel they are properly
compensated and rewarded for the work they perform.
Just as important is what won’t change: The Department will preserve employee protections
and benefits, veterans preference and the merit principles that have long been integral to the
11. When will there be more information available regarding the details of
Answer: DoD and the Office of Personnel Management are in the process of developing the
broad enabling regulations for NSPS. This process is nearing completion and we should see
the publication of the draft enabling regulations in the Federal Register this winter. This will
initiate a formal public comment period as well as a period for a formal meet and confer
process with employee representatives to discuss the proposal. Upon completion of this
process, the Department will develop more specific implementing regulations, which will be
finalized in the spring. Employees are encouraged to visit the NSPS website at
www.cpms.osd.mil/nsps for the most recent information regarding NSPS. Additionally
servicing Human Resources offices will have the most current information as it becomes
12. The XXX Base will be one of the first sites to implement the National
Security Personnel System. How do you feel, as the commander, being part
of what will be a huge change in how the Defense Department manages its
Answer: An opportunity like NSPS usually comes along once in a lifetime and that is why
this is so important. NSPS literally has the potential of changing the entire Federal civilian
personnel system. We have the chance to truly make a difference. This is an incredible
opportunity and I look forward to sharing my excitement with the workforce at XXX. We are
fortunate to be among the first to convert to this new system. I am excited about this
opportunity to lead this effort. We volunteered because we feel we have a dedicated,
adaptable workforce with a positive attitude; a group of employees ready to take on new
challenges; and a workforce that is second to none.
13. How will those participating in the implementation phase be affected?
Answer: It will start with training. We will ensure every single employee and supervisor
gets the proper training to make this work. We know this is integral to the program’s
success. What we hope to see is increased communication between every supervisor and
employee as they discuss and jointly develop performance objectives together. This is
essential if this new system is to be successful.
14. Do you foresee any challenges in implementing the new system?
Answer: Absolutely. This will involve a complete cultural change for our workforce. But I
think it is a positive change. Our civilians will actually understand how the work they do day
in and day out impacts our overall mission. At XXX, this is particularly important, as the
civilian workforce is critical to mission accomplishment – the military cannot do this alone.
NSPS facilitates a Total Force concept, enhances readiness and rewards success.
15. Why do you think the NSPS will be a positive addition to the Defense
Answer: The current personnel system does not adequately recognize our civilian workforce
as part of the total force. NSPS will reinforce the role of the civilians, not just amongst
themselves, but to our military as well.
16. What can those organizations that are not a part of Spiral One do to get
ready for NSPS?
Answer: Over the coming months the NSPS program offices will be sponsoring a variety of
informational forums and activities. These sessions are designed to build a comfort level
about the new system and assist in making a successful transition to NSPS when your time
comes to implement. Your conversion date isn’t that far off, and we encourage you to take
advantage of every opportunity to learn about the system, talk to your friends and co-
workers and get to know the dynamics of NSPS.