by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Each year the National Security Personnel System – the civilian employee performance review process – at the 21st Space Wing gets a bit easier. It’s a little less intimidating and employees appear to feel more comfortable navigating the pay-for-performance compensation system, which went into effect in 2006.
The FY10 rating cycle came to a close the beginning of January, and 686 wing employees were rated. Official results were released Jan. 19.
Managers at the wing credit a successful 2010 NSPS cycle with having a solid business plan.
This plan lays out the rules of engagement and information the workforce needs to complete all performance requirements, said Kelle LeRoy, NSPS program manager.
“It includes the 15 to 16 month calendar of events, it lays out all of the pay pool review processes to make it as transparent as possible,” she said. “This year, overall, went very smoothly in comparison to previous years. I think that is because we have been working under NSPS for several years now, the processes are starting to catch on.”
Across the Department of Defense, NSPS has, at times, been criticized for being overly complicated. However, the 21st Space Wing’s NSPS business plan heads off many employee concerns by spelling out details including which organization is aligned under the various sub-pay pool panels, names of the key players including performance review authority, pay pool managers and panel members.
“There are a couple of key reasons for the success,” said Al Strait, 21st SW pay panel manager. “First, we incorporated lessons learned from previous years into the NSPS business plan.
Another key factor was the experience level by supervisors and sub pay pool panel members. The goal has been to be fair, equitable, and consistent and we have met that goal.”
He went on to say, “I appreciate everyone’s support in making this year’s NSPS process a success. It was definitely a team effort.”
Each year, Ms. LeRoy seeks feedback from employees on how to improve. One year, managers made adjustments to pay pool alignment based on employee feedback. Another idea was to go paperless. Each appraisal can generate 17 to 18 pages, which adds up when there are about 700 employees. In this recent cycle, one sub panel, comprised of about 100 employees, piloted a paperless review, which was successful and likely will be implemented wing-wide, Ms. LeRoy said.
“Year after year, we continue to refine our processes,” she said. “It is a key factor that we continually look at our processes, consider revisions and refine.”
Under NSPS, many people are involved in an employee’s review. Senior leaders, including group commanders, squadron commanders and civilian deputies, make up a two-tiered review panel that reviews appraisals, job objectives ratings and other contributing factors when considering evaluations and pay increases.
In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, which calls for the NSPS to transition back to General Schedule system, which had been in place since 1949. In January, the DoD announced the creation of the NSPS transition office, which will develop the design and move for the 200,000 federal employees from NSPS to GS. The DoD goal is to make the transition by Jan. 1, 2012.
In the meantime, all employees still must follow the NSPS annual performance plans, appraisals, rating cycle and deadlines.
“Now that the FY10 performance cycle has concluded, it’s time to look forward,” Ms. LeRoy said. “Rating officials should have approved performance plans completed in preparation for the interim review process coming up in the March/April time frame.”
n The Civilian Personnel Office will release details of the transition from NSPS to GS as they are announced from the DoD. Read more about the transition from NSPS to GS at, www.cpms.osd.mil/nsps/transition/.