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3,000 employees to convert to NSPS

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- After months of hearing about the National Security Personnel System, about 3,000 non-bargaining Robins employees will return to work Monday under the new system.

The NSPS system, a new civilian employee compensation and management system, rewards workers based on their individual performance.

The system, which will go into effect Sunday, was designed to replace the 50-year-old civilian personnel system presently used by the Department of Defense.

The personnel who transition to the system, will also receive their last pay increase based on the present civilian personnel system as they convert to the new system. The Within Grade Increase Buy-In will pay employees for the progress they have made toward the next step on the former pay scale. For example if a General Schedule employee is half way to Step 6 then the person will be paid 50 percent of the increase for attaining that step.

"Basically that is why no one will lose a dollar. Everyone in fact gets a little bit of a pay raise when it is implemented," said Bob Zwitch, WR-ALC Commander's Program Control officer.

But once the initial WGI Buy-In is completed, all pay increases on the system will be based on performance and done through the new Pay Pool system.

Employees at Robins will be placed into one of 15 pay pools and will then be assigned to a career group: Standard, which most converting employees fall into, Scientific Engineering Career Group, Medical Career Group or Investigative and Protective Services Career Group. Within the career group employees will be assigned to a pay schedule, which is a group of workers who do similar types of work. The worker will then be placed in a pay band, where there will be a minimum and maximum pay limit.

However, employees will have the option to move into higher pay bands by applying for other positions. Performance will be measured by an appraisal system where employees will be ranked on a scale of one through five with five being a role model and a one being unacceptable.

"The structure of the process helps to bring back some integrity to the system and a much fairer system for promotion," Mr. Zwitch said.

However, he added supervisors will not just be allowed to turn in a bad appraisal; there will be a review process in place, which will make the system conducive to fair and equitable treatment.

All employees converting to the new system should have completed required training courses including all the NSPS specific training courses such as Human Resources Elements for Supervisors, Managers and Employees; Performance Management for Employees or Performance Management for Supervisors and Supervisory Interactive Skills. All transitioning employees should also log into My Biz and My Workplace, which is a valuable tool for supervisors and employees to complete performance evaluations under the NSPS system, to ensure their information is correct and to become familiar with the tools available under the program such as the feedback tool where workers can provide feedback to their supervisors.

The Self Assessment process by employees will be accomplished through the My Biz and My Workplace modules. The self assessments will be brief statements explaining how employees meet their objectives and will focus on the themes of action, result and impact, which are similar to the Enlisted Performance Report bullet system used by active duty service members.

The transition team is also making other resources available to help transitioning such as the Community of Practice, which is available through a link on the Robins secure Web site.

"It's a chance to read and get smart (about NSPS)," said Eve King, a NSPS transition specialist.

One of the things the Community of Practice provides is a discussion forum, where members of the transition team can provide answers to questions employees have about the new system. Along with the Community of Practice, the transition team also formed SWAT Teams which are comprised of three members. The first member is a NSPS point of contact, the second is an expanded cadre, which is a representative nominated by each organization's management to help facilitate training and conversion to NSPS and the third, an employee management relations specialist, will be called in if the other members decide additional help is needed to address an issue.

"They should be able to handle it in house, but if for any reason they need additional help, they can pull in that third member," said Jennifer Roybal-McDowell, NSPS transition specialist. She added the third member is trained by the DOD in the performance management system.

One of the main goals of the SWAT team is to assist organizations having problems entering their performance plans and objectives into the Performance Appraisal Applications or automated tool. As for the bargaining employees, the possible conversion for these employees is still in the air. The DOD has filed an appeal to the Feb. 27, 2006 U.S. District Judge Emmet. Sullivan ruling stating proposed NSPS provisions would not protect civilian employees' ability to bargain collectively. Officials at Robins are awaiting a decision from that appeal and bargaining employees will be kept informed, Ms. King said.