Pentagon: Pay for performance on track for September

An outpouring of negative comments from Defense Department civilian employees about to be switched to a pay-for-performance system doesn't necessarily reflect widespread dissatisfaction, a Pentagon official said today.

"It's been my experience that most people who are for something don’t speak out," said Mary Lacey, program executive officer of the National Security Personnel System. "The ones that have concerns are the ones that do speak out. That's probably what you're seeing on the Web site," she said, referring to the 58,000 comments posted on a Pentagon site.

Lacey spoke during a National Academy of Public Administration panel discussion on government personnel.

DOD has delayed the new system amid employee concerns and rancorous meetings with department worker unions. "We've always said that it's going to be an event-driven program and schedule," she said.

The system is on track for initial implementation by September, Lacey added.

Pay for performance will result in mostly objective employee evaluations, she said. "We're going to make it as objective as we can," Lacey said. "Not everything is 100 percent objective on every dimension."

Training dollars have been set aside for managers, she said. "The policy has already been signed out by the deputy secretary of Defense, so that's going to happen," Lacey said, adding that training is a core Pentagon mission.

But training on the civilian side has been inconsistent, she said. "It depends on the organization, it depends on the leader du jour," she said.

Pentagon officials are considering other personnel changes, Lacey said. For instance, DOD jobs need not necessarily be considered only civilian or military, she said.

And DOD may reconsider its current policy of forcing uniformed personnel to choose between accepting promotion or returning to civilian life, Lacey said. For example, during the early days of the war in Afghanistan, the best-performing wing of Navy aviators was made up of reserve pilots who refused to accept promotion to command a wing and became commercial pilots, Lacey said. "All they wanted to do was fly."

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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