Report endorses pay for performance for Intel community

Monday - 6/14/2010, 5:31pm EDT

Jennifer Dorn, president and CEO, National Academy of Public Administration

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Performance-based pay for civilian intelligence employees has been endorsed by an independent review panel.

The Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS) is a pay-for-performance system designed for civilian intelligence workers that is similar to the National Security Personnel System (NSPS).

The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) report says the system's principles are sound, but encourages corrections in implementation. NAPA prepared the 156-page report for Congress and the Defense department, which was ordered as a part of the 2010 Defense Reauthorization bill. The report examined the effectiveness of the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS) itself, as well as the quality of program's implementation.

President and CEO of NAPA Jennifer Dorn says performance-based pay is an important step for improving the quality of intelligence. It encourages employees to try to "connect the dots" of intelligence in new and innovative ways, she says.

"To be able to reward and incentivize raising your hand to say 'I see it a little differently' is really important to the national security of the nation," Dorn says.

But NAPA did find several problems with DCIPS's implementation. Dorn says most of these could be traced to the rush to begin the program.

"Policies were not completely flushed out, the communication strategy was not fully developed, and therefore it led to many misperceptions about what [DCIPS] was and what is wasn't," Dorn says.

The report also found that better training for supervisors about the program, a stronger system of accountability, and clearer support from leadership were needed to increase employee trust in the system.

"Anytime you're doing anything new as it relates to how you reward employees, the stakes are so high, and the rumor mills are so strong," Dorn says.

The NAPA panel recommended that the performance-based pay be applied gradually in order to allow time for fixing the implementation problems. They advised creating a deadline of Nov. 1 for these goals. DoD will respond to the report by August.

Rachel Stevens is an intern with Federal News Radio.