By Phil Piemonte
Agencies and corporations have been on a hot streak laying down and revising guidelines for the on-the-job use (or non-use) of social media.
It’s not an easy matter. With the government (and companies) bent on harnessing the significant power of social media that mostly were designed for nongovernmental, non-corporate applications, the lines can get a bit blurred.
The fact that social media such as Facebook are common to the computer on your desk at the office as well as the one on your coffee table at home makes it easy to forget what you are doing, and where you are. At home, saying exactly what you want to say online — and maybe just doing it to waste time — is often considered entertainment. At work, it can get you fired.
It does still seem a little weird, at least to some of us, to see huge federal agencies on Facebook, which a lot of people otherwise use mostly to trade comments with people they didn’t even talk to in high school.
At any rate, we’d like to stimulate a little discussion on the topic, because we’ve been wondering how all this is working inside the federal government.
Do people abuse social media on the job? (We all know about the tweeting episode that led to the downfall of a certain legislator, so let’s get beyond that one.)
Second, are there shining examples of social media being used really well at your agency? If so, share them. We’d like to take a look.
Posted on Jun 17, 2011 at 1:39 PM9 comments
As you probably have heard by now, the Obama administration has drawn a line in the budgetary sand that caps the total amount agencies can spend on individual performance awards.
According to guidance in a memo issued by the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget, the total an agency can spend for individual performance awards for its senior executive service, senior-level, scientific, and/or professional employees can be no more than 5 percent of those employees’ aggregate salaries. For all other employees, including General Schedule employees, it can be no more than 1 percent of those employees’ aggregate salaries.
In other words, for SES employees, for example, all their bonuses added together cannot exceed 5 percent of all their salaries added together. The cap, effective immediately, applies to fiscal 2012 as well.
At the same time, there is “there is no cap on the percentage of employees receiving awards or the number of individual awards granted,” according to the memo. And, as the memo states: “Like the overall number of awards, no specific limit is being placed on the amount of any single individual award.”
Translation: A lot of people could get small awards, a few people could get big awards, or some combination of those two. And while the most equitable thing would apply the same level of restraint across all the individual awards, that might be too much to wish for in the real world.
With the federal pay climate the way it is, one thing is clear: Those who hold the purse strings on these awards will have to exercise some careful decision-making in the months ahead.
But even if the awards end up being distributed as fairly as possible, the bonus cap—like other recent federal austerity measures—may end up begin just one more thing to deter the best job candidates from choosing a federal career.
Posted on Jun 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM13 comments
The Office of Personnel Management dutifully reported this week that “nearly all” agencies had complied with the first deadline of June 7 laid out in the Telework Enhancement Act, that is, to figure out if you can telework — and to tell you so in writing.
At the same time, a survey by the Telework Exchange seemed to indicate that about 84 percent of agencies had determined the eligibility of employees (OK, that’s reasonably close to “nearly all”), and that 76 percent (generally understood to be less than “nearly all”) of agencies had notified all employees of eligibility.
That means that if the survey is reasonably accurate, roughly three out of four feds have been told if they are eligible to telework.
So, unless you work at one of those agencies that OPM Deputy Chief of Staff Justin Johnson said might “go through the cracks” regarding the June 7 deadline, you probably already know if you are eligible.
Of course, knowing about your eligibility to telework and actually being able to do it are two different things. Agencies still have to put the finishing touches on their telework policies, train everyone involved (including your boss), make sure technical support is in place, and so on.
So it could be a while.
At the same time, it will interesting to see how it all plays out — to watch what happens when teleworker wannabes finally have the chance to do it, to observe how management handles it, and to add up how much money it actually saves when broadly implemented.
But what might be most interesting is to see what the folks who have been hammering federal employees do and say once all these telework arrangements are up and running. Reading down a list of the benefits of telework (less time missed, savings on travel expenses, better continuity of operations, etc.), telework would seem to be a budget cutter’s dream.
But from what we’ve seen from these anti-fed types over the course of the last year, something tells us to wait and see.
Posted on Jun 10, 2011 at 5:08 AM17 comments
“Employees should be retained on the basis of the adequacy of their performance.”
So begins the sixth Merit Principle, which goes on to say that “inadequate performance should be corrected, and employees should be separated who cannot or will not improve their performance to meet required standards.”
Although some critics (including some feds themselves) complain that there are feds who just don’t pull their weight, the Merit Systems Protection Board points out that the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 — which codified the nine Merit Principles — “was designed to address was the difficulty of discharging employees for poor performance.”
Before the act became law, MSPB says, one lawmaker characterized the web of rules and regulations governing civil service as the “refuge of the incompetent employee.”
That same lawmaker, Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, noted that when “incompetent and inefficient employees are allowed to stay on the rolls, it is the dedicated and competent employee who must increase his workload so that the public may be benefited.” (Anyone who has worked in any job, public or private, can identify with that one.)
The act added a chapter to the U.S. Code called “Performance Appraisal” and authorized new standards for evaluating performance —and sanctions of removal or demotion for unacceptable performance.
So the means to discharge the worst performers are laid down in law, according to MSPB.
So we ask you: Does it work?
Posted on Jun 07, 2011 at 12:06 PM64 comments