NNSA has begun a project designed to attract and retain the best and brightest workers in the national security field. Known as "pay-banding," this pilot project will focus on pay-for-performance rather than pay increases based on longevity.

In the past, NNSA has operated both within traditional General Schedule and Excepted Service Programs.  NNSA's experience executing mixed pay systems led to the decision to start a five-year partnership with the Office of Personnel Management off site link to fundamentally alter major parts of the government's competitive service personnel laws and regulations. Pay-banding gives managers the ability to reward outstanding performance with higher pay.

The project will test the feasibility of the new system, which collapses the traditional 15 General Schedule pay grades into broad pay bands (see chart). The new structure features comprehensive career paths covering professional, technical, administrative and support occupations with three or four pay bands in each career path.

Under the new personnel administration plan, NNSA's managers will have greater flexibility to set higher pay for their employees through appointments, promotions, and performance evaluations. This project will improve NNSA's recruitment efforts so that it can compete for high-quality candidates through the use of higher starting salaries. It will also motivate and retain key employees by providing faster pay progression for employees that perform well.

About 2,000 of NNSA's 2,500 federal workers are involved in the project (the rest already fall under Excepted Service). The project, if successful, will become a permanent alternative to the traditional competitive service personnel system.

The project follows almost two years of discussions, planning, design, development, and communications, including the three phases of employee briefings and managerial training conducted at every major site and location throughout NNSA.