Management briefs

Rand: Feds should not drop pay-for-performance efforts
Federal agencies might not be sold on the idea of pay for performance, but they need some alternative to the current General Schedule system, according to a new report from Rand.

Rand researchers said the GS pay system’s appeal is its simplicity; however, they found that supervisors and appraisers tend to rate all employees favorably.

Tenure rather than merit or performance is the main driver of wages and promotions under the GS system, said researchers John Graham, dean of the Pardee Rand Graduate School, and Silvia Montoya, a doctoral fellow at the school.

Current pay-for-performance initiatives are the latest alternatives that agencies have tried in the past 20 years. Half a dozen agencies now have independent systems, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and the Defense Department.

Those systems typically provide supervisors with more flexibility to reward employees based on assessed performance.

Despite growing opposition to pay for performance on the part of government employee unions and the Democratic leaders in Congress, the researchers say they believe programs now planned or in place should not be prohibited or scaled back until current experiences are carefully evaluated.

“Regardless of what Congress and the current administration decide to do, the next administration should move to establish pay systems that penalize poor performance and reward excellent performance, facilitate dialogue with employees and unions, and extend and evaluate pilot tests of new human resources systems,” the report states. “A return to the GS structure is a step backward.”

GAO gives FAA good marks for hitting acquisition targets
The Federal Aviation Administration is doing a better job of staying within its systems acquisition budget and meeting its schedules, but the agency faces challenges as it makes the transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation (NextGen) system, according to the Government Accountability Office.

In the next several years, FAA will acquire new systems worth $14 billion.

The agency has repeatedly had difficulty meeting budget, schedule and performance targets for systems acquisitions to modernize the National Airspace System. NextGen will present an even greater challenge, GAO auditors said. Under the NextGen program, FAA will acquire numerous systems to support precision satellite navigation, digital communications, integrated weather information and adaptive security.

It will be critical for FAA to keep those acquisitions within budget and on schedule, GAO said in a report released last month. Missing budget and schedule targets could require significant budget increases to maintain existing systems and result in delays in increasing the efficiency of the nation’s airspace, GAO said.

In fiscal 2008, FAA expects to be on schedule with 90 percent of its major systems acquisitions and within 10 percent of its annual budget. Officials also expect to continue meeting those performance targets through 2012.

DOD’s Gallagher moves to DHS to assist with HSPD-12
Deborah Gallagher, former chief technology officer at the Defense Department’s Access Card Office, moved to the Homeland Security Department at the end of November.

A DHS spokesman confirmed that Gallagher is working in the agency’s Office of the Chief Information Officer to help implement Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12.

Gallagher played a key role in DOD’s Common Access Card (CAC) program.

The department has issued more than 13 million secure identification cards under that program. In March, DOD will begin replacing CACs with cards that comply with HSPD-12 standards.

In contrast, DHS has made little progress toward complying with HSPD-12, according to the Web site. The agency has not created quarterly reports so there is no way to know how many cards it has issued, and a recent inspector general report states that DHS hasn’t managed the program well.

The agency brought in Gallagher to help push the program forward, industry experts said.

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