DoD Introduces Labor-collaborated Personnel Reform


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In the wake of repealing the disastrous National Security Personnel System (NSPS) in 2010, Department of Defense (DoD) officials were tasked with reforming its civilian personnel management system in collaboration with its labor stakeholders. Throughout the NSPS campaign, DoD fought vigorously to unilaterally impose the personnel reforms in the face of fierce union opposition. Because of the tensions developed in the NSPS campaign, collaboration of the two sides was a daunting task. But it was no secret that DoD desperately needed to update its arcane personnel management practices, so both sides came together to work on the aptly-named reform: New Beginnings.

Representing NFFE in this collaboration was Pete Randazzo of Local 1690 (Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.). Randazzo frequently met with DoD and other union officials over a five-year period to outline a blueprint, program and rollout for the new Defense Performance Management and Appraisal program. And after years of work and collaboration, New Beginnings has finally begun its implementation phase at DoD installations around the country.
So what does New Beginnings mean for NFFE-IAM members? New Beginnings’ mission is to use employee performance plans to document the link between organizational mission and goals of DoD and the contributions of individual employees to realize increased employee engagement, morale, and effectiveness. New Beginnings does away with previous performance standards and implements what is known as the SMART criteria for performance standards. Within the SMART criteria, an employee’s performance is evaluated using the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely (SMART).
Another reform outlined in New Beginnings is a focus on streamlining the hiring process. Reforms include: Enhancement of existing automated hiring tools, training for supervisors and managers, providing training to improve the skills and advisory capabilities of DoD’s human resource practitioner workforce, and implementing effective means of recruiting, compensating, and incentivizing the workforce. Additionally, there is a significant focus on strategic workforce planning to shape an effective workforce for today and into the future.

The Defense Performance Management system and Appraisal Program has incorporated a three-level system to rate employee performance. The three levels are: Level 1 (unacceptable), level 3 (fully successful), and level 5 (outstanding). The three-level system allows for a more objective method to distinguish between levels of performance, which will allow for more-informed discussions between the employee and supervisor to occur throughout the year.  At a minimum, performance discussions will include an initial performance planning meeting to discuss performance expectations, a mid-year performance review and a final performance appraisal.

While much tension continues to be present between labor and management within DoD due to the agency’s past scorched earth campaign to institute NSPS, NFFE played a key role in developing and advising the New Beginnings System. The system will be largely positive for NFFE-IAM members and brings much-needed reform to DoD’s Performance Management and Appraisal program.

In DoD’s New Beginnings program, NFFE played a key role in guiding the reforms