SES workers get smaller raises

New pay-for-performance authority for rewarding Senior Executive Service employees resulted in fewer executives getting the highest possible performance ratings in 2004, the first year in which it was used.

Office of Personnel Management officials said today that fewer top performance ratings indicate that the authority is starting to produce the results that President Bush desired when he proposed it in his fiscal 2004 budget. Lawmakers included that authority in the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act to encourage managers to make sharper distinctions among senior executives when evaluating them.

The average number of SES employees given the highest performance ratings by their managers dropped in one year from 74.5 percent to 59.4 percent, according to an OPM memo to executive department leaders. Individual agencies varied considerably from that average, however.

At the Homeland Security Department, for example, an average of 83.3 percent of SES employees received the highest level performance ratings, although the memo notes that OPM had not certified DHS’ appraisal system when managers gave those ratings.

At the State Department, 93.6 percent of SES employees received the highest possible performance ratings.

Offsetting the average drop in highest ratings was an $851 increase in the average performance award for SES employees. The average SES performance award in fiscal 2004 was $13,734, compared with $12,883 in the previous year.

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