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No deadline = No success

The intelligence community — comprising 16 government agencies — plans to take the first steps this year toward pulling its tens of thousands of employees into a common pay system.

The IC … operates with a patchwork of pay rules that makes it difficult for intelligence agencies to share, reassign and recruit employees, according to officials. A White House commission last year called on John D. Negroponte , director of national intelligence, to create a more uniform pay and personnel system to help integrate operations and shape a more agile workforce. […]

“It’s the most complicated transformation that I’ve been involved in,” said Ronald P. Sanders , who is helping steer the effort.

Sanders, chief human capital officer for the intelligence community, came to the post last year after a stint at the Office of Personnel Management, where he helped oversee plans to overhaul the pay and workplace rules at the departments of Defense and Homeland Security. […]

It ought to be noted here that neither of these systems have actually seen the light of day. Not his fault. On the plus side, there is no Teamsters local for 0132s to fight him . . . yet . . .

Sanders said there is no deadline for overhauling pay in the intelligence community, and, he added, there are no prescriptions, solutions or recommendations on the table.

Repeat after me: “Your GS rate is not a rank . . .”

Commonality across pay systems is less an issue than is paying for performance, or perhaps “paying for relevance.” If you work on the bridge and road problem for East BFE, I don’t see the need to pay you the same rate as someone who works terrorism.

“Your GS rate is not a rank . . .”

The ability to adjust compensation schemes when terrorism isn’t a problem anymore and East BFE becomes a clear and present danger is more important than making sure Alice in Odenton makes as much as Bob in Langley. Come to think of it, since Alice only works in one discipline, does that mean Bob should make considerably more since he works with all sources? How crazy can this get in how short a time?

If IC management and related controls were better, I’d be a bigger fan of pay bands. They beat the current system – which rewards longevity not skill or relevance – and cut down on hard feelings when whippersnappers start earning more than oldsters.

“Your GS rate is not a rank . . .”

They might also look at accelerating the rate at which CSRS and off-set employees leave the system. Nothing like a pair of golden handcuffs to ensure that your workforce is full of guys who are ready to help close the missile gap and prepare for big tank battles in Europe.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.