Former NSPS Employees May Have Been Improperly Downgraded

In 2004, Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Defense to implement a pay for performance system known as the National Security Personnel System (NSPS). The idea was to replace the General Schedule (GS) with a more flexible system to establish pay levels. Ultimately, the NSPS proved to be unwieldy and unpopular and Congress abolished the system in 2009. As of January 1, 2012, all Department of Defense personnel were moved back to the GS.

Unintended Consequences

Unfortunately, many former NSPS employees have discovered that they had been improperly downgraded when they moved back to the GS. For example, Thomas Patterson, a social worker with the Veterans Affairs department, was classified as a GS-12 employee before implementation of the NSPS. Upon moving back to the GS this year, he discovered he had been reclassified as a GS-11.

For employees like Patterson, the problem was not a pay cut - Congress specified that no employee shifting out of NSPS should receive a cut in pay - but rather the possibility of future raises. In his case, he is only able to receive one more step increase before reaching the top of the GS-11 scale. Other employees found themselves earning more than their new grades' pay caps and were placed on retained pay status. Until their grades are corrected, they are not eligible for step increases and can receive only a fraction of the pay scale increases approved by Congress until their grade catches up to their salaries.

MSPB Rules for Employees

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has already ruled in favor of 11 Department of Defense employees and has ordered that they be returned to their pre-NSPS grades and be reimbursed for any lost pay.

Although the MSPB usually requires that an adverse action appeal be filed within 30 days, it is being more flexible with former NSPS employees. Many employees who believe they have been downgraded improperly may not know that they can file a claim with the MSPB, but they must be able to show that they acted quickly upon learning of their appeal rights.

Contact an Experienced Employment Law Attorney

If you or someone you love is a federal employee considering filing a claim with the MSPB for any reason, contact an experienced employment law attorney. A knowledgeable employment law attorney can assess your case and help you assert your rights. For more information, contact an employment law attorney today.