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NSPS set to spiral through Incirlik

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, TURKEY -- In January 2007, U.S. civilian employees at Incirlik Air Base will undergo a change in salary under the new National Security Personnel System spiraling throughout Air Force bases in the United States and overseas.

NSPS is a new personnel system for all Department of Defense employees that will replace the current General Schedule employment system — allowing for a higher salary and increases in salary based on job performance.

"Most importantly, civilian employees need to know that their salaries will not decrease and there will be no changes to benefits, leave and retirement plans. This is a new system designed to help supervisors compete with private industry in pay," said Sandra Ringer, 39th Mission Support Squadron civilian personnel office acting director.

According to Ms. Ringer, the DoD has recognized that the current GS system does not allow supervisors the opportunity to negotiate in salary — sometimes hindering the opportunity to hire the most qualified candidate for the position.

"The current system doesn't have the flexibility to adapt to the constant changing military mission," she said.

Currently at Incirlik, civilian employment starts at a GS-4 level with an approximate starting salary of $22,000. The highest positionis a GS-13 with an approximate starting salary of $65,000. With the new system, a particular position will have a range of income that a supervisor can offer an applicant. One example that has come to front in the past is civilian engineering positions within DoD. DoD competes with private industry and "typically private industries can offer a lot more money," said Ms. Ringer. NSPS will give supervisors the flexibility to compete with these industries.

"For example, a supervisor may have a range from $25,000 to $75,000 to hire an engineer. Rather than advertise a $25,000 position and probably get applicants straight out of school or with little experience, they could offer $50,000 and get someone with a little more experience or more education," Ms. Ringer explained.

Another change with the NSPS will be qualifications for pay increases and raises. Under the GS system, job performance and longevity are examined when evaluating raises. For instance, once a civilian is hired at a GS level, which consists of 10 steps, they receive a small increase in salary every year up to step four. The civilian would receive a pay increase every two years during steps four through seven, and then in steps eight through 10, they receive a pay increase every three years.

However, most civilians are either promoted to a new GS level or quit the system before they reach step 10, according to AqueillaGrimmage-Smith, 39th MSS civilian personnel office human resources specialist.

But the 10 steps will not be a part of the NSPS system, and pay increases will no longer be a guarantee under NSPS. Only job performance will be looked at for increases in salaries with NSPS.

"It's not going to matter how long you've been in a certain position. What's going to matter is how you do your job. The pay is going to be better for all employees, and employees who come to work and do above and beyond will be rewarded," said Mrs. Grimmage-Smith.

At Incirlik, 148 U.S. civilians will be affected by NSPS and most of them will see a small increase in salary, said Mrs. Grimmage-Smith, who has worked as a DoD employee for 14 years.

Incirlik is one of several bases converting to the new system in 2007, and a few bases in the United States have already moved to NSPS, such as Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Ms. Ringer says the only criticism she has heard is fear that NSPS could lead to the "good oleboys" way of hiring—meaning supervisors will hire their buddies. However, Ms. Ringer, who was recently promoted to NSPS Headquarters for AFMC at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, assures that a checks and balances system is in place to make sure that does not happen.

"It will be regulated to make sure the best candidates are hired," said Ms. Ringer, who has worked as a DoD U.S. civilian for 20 years.

The Civilian Personnel Office will hold formal NSPS training for employees and supervisors before the new year, but in the meantime would like all civilian employees to review the NSPS 101 course at www.cpms.osd.mil/NSPS/NSPS101. The 45-minute Web based course provides a general overview of NSPS.

"I think it will way-lay fears of the new system," said Ringer. "Really, if you're a good employee and do your job, there is no need for concern."

For more information, contact the Civilian Personnel Office.