Human Capital: DOD's National Security Personnel System Faces Implementation Challenges

GAO-05-730 Published: Jul 14, 2005. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 2005.
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Highlights

The Department of Defense's (DOD) new personnel system--the National Security Personnel System (NSPS)--will have far-reaching implications not just for DOD, but for civil service reform across the federal government. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 gave DOD significant authorities to redesign the rules, regulations, and processes that govern the way that more than 700,000 defense civilian employees are hired, compensated, promoted, and disciplined. In addition, NSPS could serve as a model for governmentwide transformation in human capital management. However, if not properly designed and effectively implemented, it could severely impede progress toward a more performance- and results-based system for the federal government as a whole. This report (1) describes DOD's process to design its new personnel management system, (2) analyzes the extent to which DOD's process reflects key practices for successful transformations, and (3) identifies the most significant challenges DOD faces in implementing NSPS.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To improve the comprehensiveness of the NSPS communication strategy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the NSPS Senior Executive and NSPS Program Executive Office to identify all internal stakeholders and their concerns.
Closed – Implemented
The National Security Personnel System (NSPS) Program Executive Office (PEO) met the intent of our recommendation by identifying stakeholders in its evaluation plan as well as in its communication plans.
Department of Defense To improve the comprehensiveness of the NSPS communication strategy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the NSPS Senior Executive and NSPS Program Executive Office to tailor and customize key messages to be delivered to groups of employees to meet their divergent interests and information needs.
Closed – Implemented
The National Security Personnel System (NSPS) Program Executive Office (PEO)developed a communication plan. In addition, the NSPS website uses different means of communicating to employees including fact sheets and other online resources that provides information to targeted groups of employees, such as supervisors and nonsupervisors.
Department of Defense To evaluate the impact of DOD's new personnel management system, the Secretary of Defense should direct the NSPS Senior Executive and NSPS Program Executive Office to develop procedures for evaluating NSPS that contain results-oriented performance measures and reporting requirements. These evaluation procedures could be broadly modeled on the evaluation requirements of the OPM demonstration projects.
Closed – Implemented
The National Security Personnel System (NSPS) Program Executive Office (PEO) developed an evaluation plan that describes the approach, types of data, and general timeframes that the PEO will use to evaluate and report on NSPS during its development and delivery, to ascertain if it meets the departmental goals and identify aspects for improvement or modifications. Evaluation data will come from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, attitude surveys, automated systems, special studies, focus groups, implementation lessons learned, and baseline data.

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