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Renewing and improving human resources processes to support DON Cyber/IT personnel: an interview with Chris Kelsall, DON CIO Cyber/IT workforce director and Tammy Johnson, deputy director, Human Resources Service Center, Northwest.

The civilian cyber/IT workforce senior leadership across the Department of the Navy regularly deals with new processes and procedures to accomplish the DON's IT work. Recently, the federal government directed several new civilian human resources (HR) initiatives to include transition from the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) back to the General Schedule (GS) system. While working new initiatives is time consuming, this effort can be seized as an opportunity to renew and stabilize civilian workforce management within DON commands.

Good HR practices often include intelligent trade-offs between funding, people, automation, control, flexibility and timeliness. To be effective, senior leadership must be fully apprised of not only the cyber/IT functional environment, but also HR responsibilities. They must be comfortable understanding the authorities, resources and flexibilities available to the community, hiring managers and the people in the cyber/IT community.

Chris Kelsall, the cyber/IT workforce director in the office of the DON CIO, works closely with Tammy Johnson, deputy director, Human Resources Service Center, Northwest. Tammy is designated as the HR consultant to the cyber community.

At the West Coast 2010 DON IT Conference, Mary Purdy sat down with Mr. Kelsall and Ms. Johnson to ask a few questions about civilian HR management in view of upcoming workforce changes.

Ms. Purdy: Why is the civilian workforce transitioning from the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) to other pay schedules, and what does this mean to the cyber/IT community?

Mr. Kelsall: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2010 repealed NSPS. When passing the NDAA, Congress required all employees to be transitioned from NSPS no later than 1 January 2012. As the cyber/IT HR adviser, Ms. Johnson will work with our community to ensure a smooth transition.

Ms. Purdy: What is the DON's plan to transition out of NSPS?

Ms. Johnson: Most of the DON's NSPS employees will transition to the GS personnel system; this will take place during 2010, on a cycle over the next several months. Once transitioned to the GS, employees will not be eligible for a 2011 NSPS performance payout. However, as GS employees, they will be eligible for within-grade-increases and all recognition and rewards within that system. Until your NSPS organization transitions, NSPS rules will continue to apply.

Ms. Purdy: How does the cyber/IT community know what alternative pay plan to transition to?

Ms. Johnson: If the NSPS position was previously classified under GS, there has been no significant change in duties and responsibilities of the position, and the appropriate GS classification standard remains unchanged, then NSPS positions will revert to the GS classification and full grade level previously assigned.

Ms. Purdy: Do civilian position descriptions need to be updated right now?

Ms. Johnson: Very few PDs will require rewriting immediately. The transition period for completing the mass action to move employees from NSPS to GS is simply too short. Since rewriting a PD requires a personnel action to place the employee on the new PD, it would be a challenge to accomplish both in the allotted timeframe.

As a manager, you may be contacted by your HR representative if a GS determination cannot be made based on the current PD because some titling in NSPS does not exist in the GS. In the IT community, there are only two NSPS classifications that do not exist in the GS. NSPS classification 2203 (Computer Operator) will become GS classification 0332 (Computer Operations); and NSPS classification 2204 (Computer Technician) will become GS classification 0335 (Computer Assistant).

That being said, this may be a good time to pen and ink current PDs, ensuring conditions of employment (COE) (for the IA workforce) include the security clearance and the commercial certification requirements as defined in DoD and SECNAV manuals (DoD 8570.01-M/SECNAV M-5239.2). At some later date when time permits, command HR personnel may update the PDs to include any newly defined work tasks and the new COE requirements.

Ms. Purdy: Cyber/IT personnel often comment about the lack of personnel to accomplish the required job tasks. What would you advise our commands to do?

Mr. Kelsall: First, we must understand the work that needs to be done. The cyber/IT work requirement routinely changes, and must be considered as we continue to develop the right workforce to design, manage, operate, defend and secure our networks. A presidential directive issued Jan. 8, 2008, formally established the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. Under CNCI we are reexamining workforce roles. Additionally, there are numerous ongoing studies to review and refine competencies, occupation standards, manpower mix, and personnel and training requirements. Expect to see additional guidance in the coming year. While there are high level studies, in the end the work requirement must be defined within the command, and billet funding must be requested through the chain of command.

Ms. Purdy: We hear about new in-sourcing guidelines. What can you tell us?

Mr. Kelsall: On April 6, 2009, while introducing the FY 2010 DoD budget, Secretary Gates announced an initiative to rebalance the department's workforce and reduce the percentage of contracted services as compared to the department's organic workforce. His plan, which proposed an increase in government performance, oversight, and control of critical services, is commonly referred to as 'in-sourcing.'

Ms. Purdy: How can the DON shorten the hiring timeline, but ensure it is hiring the best qualified to fill new in-sourced positions?

Ms. Johnson: We forget that hiring the best qualified candidates is dependent upon active recruitment of those best qualified applicants. Simply posting announcements on the DON HR Web site isn't enough. As managers, we must continually market the positive aspects of working in the public sector and for our particular organizations. Many factors contribute to the hiring timeline, whether it is the impact of your local position management board, how long the announcement is posted, or your command's in-processing requirements such as medical or security requirements. The Corporate Business Process for Recruitment (CBP-R) is designed to ensure a consistent approach to the 'processing in' of new employees. It is still in the pilot stage and is being tested by Headquarters Marine Corps; the Assistant for Administration, Office of the Under Secretary of the Navy, Secretariat Headquarters, Human Resources Office; and Fleet Industrial Supply Center, Pearl Harbor.

Ms. Purdy: DoD 8570.01-M and SECNAV M-5239.2 documents require the cybersecurity/IA workforce [to] acquire commercial certifications and commence a continuous learning program. Do you expect the entire cyber/IT workforce to eventually move to similar training and certification requirements?

Mr. Kelsall: Yes, we are working with the Federal CIO Council and the DoD IT workforce integrated process team (IPT) to institutionalize a cyber/IT professional workforce to include career mobility and career growth by continuous learning.

Ms. Purdy: What are some of the tools the cyber/IT workforce can use to help achieve their training goals?

Ms. Johnson: Important tools include the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System (DCPDS), the Navy's Total Workforce Management System and Marine Corps Training Information Management System. In the DCPDS, My Biz Web-based tools allow personnel to access and manage their individual personnel records. Service directives provide guidance on the use of these workforce tracking and planning mechanisms. They help us collect metrics on our workforce, which in turn, help us provide better guidance for our cyber/IT community.

Mr. Kelsall: Other training support tools include e-Learning sites that house the SkillSoft online course library. The Navy IA workforce can access IT courses through https://navyiacertprep.skillport.com, and Marine Corps personnel will find the courses at http://www.marinenet.usmc.mil/. Both services can easily access the Defense Information Systems Agency IA Support Environment or Carnegie Mellon Virtual Training Environment, which have some government specific and commercial IT courses at http://iase.disa.mil/eta.

Ms. Purdy: Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Mr. Kelsall: In an effort to keep some enterprise workforce planning consistency, at the DON CIO, I host biweekly conference calls and hold monthly IPT meetings with our cyber/IT workforce managers. Other Navy and Marine Corps managers who provide timely IT community HR guidance are: Mr. Pete Gillis, HQMC, community manager, Marine Corps Information Technology Management Community of Interest; Mike Knight, Navy Cyber Forces Command, IA workforce improvement program manager; and all Navy Echelon II command information officers and workforce managers.

Mary Purdy is the cybersecurity/IA workforce management oversight and compliance manager supporting the DON CIO Cyber/IT Workforce Team.
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Author:Purdy, Mary
Publication:CHIPS
Article Type:Interview
Date:Apr 1, 2010
Words:1408
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