Pentagon Ponders NSPS Delay

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said last week the Pentagon may ask Congress to extend a critical 2009 deadline involving the National Security Personnel System (NSPS), the controversial labor relations system that would severely limit collective bargaining rights for more than 600,000 civilian employees.

Under terms of the legislation that created NSPS, a sunset clause could cause the system to be scrapped if Congress does not reauthorize it before 2009. Extending the deadline would allow the NSPS program to remain intact pending government appeals of legal challenges by unions and opposition from lawmakers.

Congress authorized NSPS in 2003 to give federal agencies the flexibility to respond to legitimate national security issues, however, the system was quickly hijacked by Bush administration officials hoping to use the rulemaking process to eviscerate the power and authority of unions representing federal workers.

Earlier this year, the IAM and a coalition of government workers unions sued to block implementation of NSPS terms that allowed government officials to override collective bargaining agreements after they had been negotiated and implemented. In April, a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed and said the NSPS system did not provide employees with true collective bargaining.