Letters to the editor
Pay for Performance: No Bonus
I just read the Bureaucratus column on pay for performance ["Sound familiar?" FCW, May 5]. I agree with Milt Zall's assessment.
I'm close to my 30-year mark in working for the Air Force as a General Schedule employee. Back in the late 1970s/early 1980s, the government tried a similar pay-for-performance bonus plan for top GSers. I had a GS-13 for a supervisor back then who was outspoken in dealing with his superiors. His motto was, "Never pass anything off to the bases that causes additional work for them if we can avoid it." This often led to conflict between my boss and the colonel in charge of the section.
When the government implemented the bonus plan, my boss was excluded from receiving any bonuses. Why? Because the colonel felt that he wasn't being a team player.
Over the years, I have seen bonuses doled out on the basis of who was liked by the upper echelon. It was never based on performance. I have seen supervisors who couldn't hold a candle to the people who worked for them, took all honors for the work accomplished by their section and doled out only the slightest rewards to their people. Yet those same individuals made sure they were favored by their supervisors when it came to receiving financial rewards and pats on the back.
It seems government administrators have a tendency to believe that performance-based increases are a yearly award to GSers. Performance-based pay isn't doled out annually. I have to wait three years before I see another step increase. And then my supervisor decides if I receive it based on my performance during those three years. We are looking at about 20 years to get from step one to step 10 (assuming no promotions during that time). What makes lawmakers and administrators think this is something that is simply doled out to GSers?
Funding is a problem for bonus plans, but I also think a bonus plan based on performance doesn't work. Anyone who has ever worked for the government will tell you that it comes down to favoritism. A first- or second-level supervisor makes the decision about who receives a bonus, regardless of how much is funded. There is no way to measure performance adequately to determine if a bonus is justified.
I can see the write-up now for justifying a bonus: "The individual did what was expected of him, put in some overtime, was a team player and kissed butt as required."
The one truism of working for the government is: "If you wait long enough, things have a tendency to fall by the wayside or recur." I think this too will pass.
Project Planning: Citing Chapter and Verse
Regarding the article on the white paper describing solutions architects ["What is a solutions architect?," FCW.com, June 11; also see story on Page 40], that seems to be a new buzzword for "project planner." I feel it is a disservice that we continually reinvent job titles that have been with us since biblical times. Look at Luke 14:28-30 to read about the need for planning a project.
Results will not improve by changing the title of the planner or builder. Results will improve when the planner can do the job right, without compromises in materials or schedules, and when the builder follows those plans without substituting inferior materials (and pocketing the price difference).
Naval Sea Systems Command
Editor's note: The New International Version of the Bible cites Luke 14:28-30 as follows: "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' "
Resume Should Include Honesty
Hiring someone without proper credentials is unforgivable, especially where security is concerned.
One reader noted [FCW's June 16 letters to the editor] that degrees don't always mean everything, and I agree with that. However, I don't know anything about [Laura Callahan] that would lead me to believe she was some kind of security genius who would deserve to be hired without a degree, either.
Moreover, padding one's resume with phony degrees says a lot too. It says a person is dishonest. There are plenty of talented, honest, qualified people out there who do not need to pad their resumes.