Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee overseeing the federal workforce, thinks the National Security Personnel System—the new pay-for-performance system for civilians—could be popular with employees, unionized and not. Speaking at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Voinovich told Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England that appealing to the unions—who have been up in arms over what they perceive as a distillation of collective bargaining rights—is the key to making it work. “If this thing’s done right … and the feedback is really good, I think it’s the greatest thing you can do to allay the fears of the unions,” said Voinovich. The Pentagon still is embroiled in a legal dispute with the American Federation of Government Employees, which England said “has created some complications.” He expects to see a ruling on the department’s appeal early next year, however, he noted that if it goes against DOD, he would expect to ask Congress for an extension to the NSPS implementation schedule. DOD plans to push on with Spiral 1.2, expected to embrace some 66,000 defense employees, starting next month.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.