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The Department of Defense's (DOD) new human resources management system--the National Security Personnel System (NSPS)--will have far-reaching implications for civil service reform across the federal government. The 2004 National Defense Authorization Act gave DOD significant flexibilities for managing more than 700,000 defense civilian employees. Given DOD's massive size, NSPS represents a huge undertaking for DOD. DOD's initial process to design NSPS was problematic; however, DOD adjusted its approach to a more deliberative process that involved more stakeholders. NSPS could, if designed and implemented properly, serve as a model for governmentwide transformation in human capital management. However, if not properly designed and implemented, it could severely impede progress toward a more performance- and results-based system for the federal government as a whole. On February 14, 2005, DOD and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released for public comment the proposed NSPS regulations. This testimony (1) provides GAO's preliminary observations on selected provisions of the proposed regulations, (2) discusses the challenges DOD faces in implementing the new system, and (3) suggests a governmentwide framework to advance human capital reform.

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