A three-member panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on May 18 overturned a ruling by a single District Court judge, saying the Pentagon could proceed with its implementation of the National Security Personnel System despite complaints from the American Federation of Government Employees. The panel, which began its deliberations in December, found that DOD has “temporary authority” under the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act to “curtail collective bargaining” for its union employees. The authority continues through November 2009, after which DOD would have to ensure NSPS conforms to the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act. Last year and this year, lawmakers have expressed reluctance to allow DOD to overlook union concerns, and the House version of the 2008 defense authorization bill contained measures to “fix” NSPS. The union, in a May 18 statement, points out that the panel was “sharply divided,” with one dissenter. It plans to press for a full court review.
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.