Shows & Panels
- The 2014 Big Picture on Cyber Security
- AFCEA Answers
- Ask the CIO
- Connected Government: How to Build and Procure Network Services for the Future
- Continuing Diagnostics and Mitigation: Discussion of Progress and Next Steps
- Federal Executive Forum
- Federal Tech Talk
- The Intersection: Where Technology Meets Transformation
- Maximizing ROI Through Data Center Consolidation
- Moving to the Cloud. What's the best approach for me
- Navigating Tough Choices in Government Cloud Computing
- The New Generation of Database
- Satellite Communications: Acquiring SATCOM in Tight Times
- Transformative Technology: Desktop Virtualization in Government
- Value of Health IT
Shows & Panels
What do performance ratings really measure?
Friday - 4/20/2012, 2:00am EDT
Since the pay freeze, the only way federal workers can get ahead financially is to qualify for a time-in-grade step increase, get a promotion, or get a cash performance award.
Or find another job.
For people who like where they work, what they do and the people they do it with, leaving is not the option of choice. And because paycheck-related items, like health insurance premiums, are not frozen, some employees are taking home less than they were two years ago. Which makes performance awards look all the better, except that...
Whatever the reason — to meet unofficial quotas, reward diversity, punish foes, reward friends, or save money — many feds say the performance rating system at their agency, or as practiced by their top management, has little to do with how well or poorly people are doing their jobs.
A former Air Force employee said that while he was under the ill-fated National Security Personnel System, they didn't have official quotas, BUT "after I rated my folks, they would all be submitted to the 'pay pol'...who reviewed everything. They would then return the evaluations to us and ask us to downgrade our ratings..." to save money!
An IRS worker said that in his part of the agency "quantity over quality" is the unofficial guide. He said the number of cases closed, not the quality of the case work itself, is the standard by which workers are judged.
Another worker said that times have definitely changed. During the 1980s, he said, "It wasn't so much about quotas but giving low evaluations to make it harder to leave" government service. The thinking, he said, was giving a good employee a poor to mediocre rating would make him/her an untouchable to another agency.
But another said that has definitely changed, at least in his workplace. This fed, with nearly four decades in government, said his bosses were told to give him a Met Expectations (i.e., the lowest of three satisfactory ratings). His boss's reasoning, he said, was that he could then give a higher performance rating to "someone who might otherwise leave the agency." He said he didn't fault his boss, a "stand up guy," but did blame higher-ups for the way the system works.
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
No sitting U.S. president has worn facial hair since William Howard Taft, but whiskers were once a necessity for any rising statesman. Abraham Lincoln started his presidency clean shaven and gangly but grew out his legendary beard at the suggestion of a young girl. After he led the nation through its darkest hour, facial hair became de rigueur. So why don't Obama or Mitt Romney throw out their razors today? According to experts speaking to Slate Magazine, politicians these days need to present themselves as reformers more than old-fashioned and traditional. Not too much of a reformer, though — since the 1960s, beards have also been negatively associated with hippies and communists.
MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO
Sen. Brown wants the NOAA chief fired for agency misconduct
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency's administrator is on the hot seat because of allegations of misconduct and abuse by bureau officials. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is asking the White House to fire NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco for her inaction after the Commerce Department's inspector general found mismanagement and potential fraud and abuse of millions of dollars in the agency's Fisheries Enforcement Asset Forfeiture Fund.
Congress to take on billions in duplicative programs
A bipartisan team in the House and Senate introduced legislation on Monday to take on "wasteful" duplication in the federal government. The bill would create a "duplicative score" for all bills introduced to Congress, similar to a potential cost estimate.
House to vote on partial retirement for feds
The House will vote on a bill that would allow federal employees to partially retire. Under the legislation, employees could work part-time and receive prorated pension payments. In a rare bipartisan move, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously voted to send the bill to the floor for a general vote. One amendment to the bill was added in committee, allowing federal retirees to roll unused vacation time into their Thrift Savings Plans upon retirement.
The silver lining in the GSA scandal
Experts say all the focus on Capitol Hill and within agencies will lead to better management and give more respect to whistleblowers. Carolyn Lerner, the head of the Office of Special Counsel, said the attention on the misdeeds of the Public Buildings Service would bolster the need for stronger ethics and integrity.