Performance management in action

Management experts often cite the following two projects as evidence that pay for performance can work in government

Dozens of government agencies have tested the concept of pay for performance as part of demonstration projects authorized by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. However, management experts often cite the following two projects in particular as evidence that pay for performance can work in government.

Navy Demonstration Project at China Lake
Start date: July 1980
Made permanent: October 1994

  • Competencies: Employees and their supervisors develop performance plans that identify employees’ responsibilities and expected results.
  • Feedback: Supervisors conduct two progress reviews of employees’ performance — at five and nine months into the performance cycle.
  • Self-assessment: Employees are encouraged to list accomplishments to assist supervisors with performance ratings.
  • Ratings: The five levels are highly successful (levels 1 and 2), fully successful (level 3) and less than fully successful (levels 4 and 5).

National Institute of Standards and Technology
Start date: January 1988
Made permanent: March 1996

  • Competencies: Employees’ performance plans have a minimum of two and a maximum of six critical elements that the supervisor weights based on the importance of the element, the time required to accomplish it, or both.
  • Feedback: Supervisors conduct midyear reviews of employees to discuss accomplishments or deficiencies and modify performance plans, if necessary.
  • Self-assessment: Employees are encouraged to list accomplishments to assist supervisors with performance ratings.
  • Ratings: On a 100-point scale, employees who receive a score higher than 40 are rated “eligible,” and those with scores less than 40 are rated “unsatisfactory.”

Source: Government Accountability Office

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications:, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.

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