NSPS conversion yields troubles for Air Force command

The Air Force Space Command announced that there have been some errors in converting its more than 3,000 positions back into the General Schedule from the controversial pay-for-performance system by the September 2010 deadline.

The swift transition of roughly 3,000 Air Force Space Command workers from the pay-for-performance system back into the General Schedule hasn’t been smooth for some, a Federal Times blog reports.

Many errors were caused in matching grades and duties, according to a Dec. 21 press release from Air Force Space Command. The discrepancy has concerned employees who worry that they will miss opportunities to compete for future jobs because of an inadequate GS grade. Mistakes in applying classification standards will not affect the employees' work history and are being corrected, the release states.

“Now we have to put the cat back into the bag,” said John King, chief of the command's Personnel and Programs Division, on the difficulty involved in making the transition.

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Apparently, officials used inaccurate and/or incomplete data that might not have been caught because of an already surging workload, according to the release.

A major challenge has been the differences between the two systems. The National Security Personnel System (NSPS) is designed to be flexible, while GS is more structured.

Another culprit was the rapid conversion process. The problems might have been avoided if more time had been given to accurately transition employees, said Siobhan Berry, a human resources specialist at the command, in the statement.

In the National Defense Authorization Act released in October 2009, Congress set a deadline of Jan. 1, 2012, for the transition, but the Defense Department set a Sept. 30, 2010, deadline to convert roughly 226,000 NSPS employees to GS. For the majority of employees, the transition was seamless, according to the release.

Lack of manpower and competing Air Force priorities have contributed to not fixing the transition problems sooner. “They are doing the best they can to get it done,” Berry said.

“Supervisors should notify their servicing Civilian Personnel Office of any outstanding NSPS transition problems immediately and their intent to submit a position review for any encumbered position,” she added.