Enactment and Implementation of the National Security Personnel System: Policy Made and Policy Unmade

Authors


Douglas A. Brook is a professor of public policy and director of the Center for Defense Management Research at the Naval Postgraduate School. He served as acting director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 1992–93 and is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.
E-mail:dabrook@nps.edu

Cynthia L. King is an associate professor of management communication and associate director of the Center for Defense Management Research at the Naval Postgraduate School.
E-mail:clking@nps.edu

Abstract

This case study reviews the enactment and implementation of the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) in the U.S. Department of Defense. Proponents of reform seized the opportunity to enact reform in the aftermath of 9/11, basing their arguments on national security concerns. However, the policy-making process did not produce a consensus for reform among key stakeholders in the personnel management policy community. Instead, the NSPS angered and alienated the Office of Personnel Management, the public employee unions, and a number of congressional Democrats. Implementation of the NSPS became problematic as Defense Department officials attempted to move quickly and independently to get the new system online, eventually forcing the department to put the system on hold. In the end, Congress imposed limits on its implementation, advocates for the system disappeared, and a new president supported the repeal of NSPS. This case provides useful insights into the formulation of future strategies for personnel management reform.

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