Defense Department HR System Blocked by Federal Judge

February 28, 2006 ( - A federal judge has issued an injunction that blocks implementation of the US Department of Defense's (DoD) new human resource and pay system.

SHRM reports that US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) would take away collective bargaining rights of nearly 700,000 DoD employees and would create an unfair process for DoD employees who wanted to appeal any unfavorable employment decision.

The NSPS originally was set to go into effect in the spring of 2005, but the plan’s implementation was postponed several times following challenges from a coalition of 10 labor unions that represent federal government workers, according to SHRM.   The unions filed suit to block the NSPS after DoD officials unveiled the final changes to the proposed system in October 2005.

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The NSPS allows for DoD officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the secretaries of all branches of the armed services, to override certain provisions of collective bargaining agreements. Officials with the DoD claimed that the change was needed for greater flexibility when making worker assignments and would allow the department to place civilian employees in some administrative jobs currently held by military personnel.

Sullivan wrote in his decision that the NSPS did not meet certain requirements that were set out by Congress regarding a provision in the NSPS to create a National Security Labor Relations Board (NSLRB) within the DoD. The NSLRB would review any labor relations decisions and adverse actions against unionized employees.   “The NSLRB does not meet Congress’ requirement for an ‘independent third party review'” of labor relations decisions, and the process for appealing adverse actions fails to provide employees with “fair treatment as required by Congress,” Sullivan noted.