GAO: OPM should clarify performance appraisals
- By Mary Mosquera
- Dec 16, 2008
Agencies must make meaningful distinctions among senior executives when
assessing their performance for pay-for-performance systems to have
credibility, the Government Accountability Office said in a report.
than a third of senior government managers said bonuses or pay
distinctions were meaningfully different among executives, GAO said in
a report released Dec. 15. GAO cited an Office of Personnel Management
survey of members of the Senior Executive Service (SES).
ensure that agencies make distinctions in assessing executives’
performance by emphasizing the importance of using a range of rating
levels, GAO said.
Agencies can raise the pay caps for SES
members if their performance appraisal systems meet certain criteria,
including factoring organizational outcomes into the appraisal
decisions and making meaningful distinctions in individual performance,
the report states. OPM and the Office of Management and Budget must
certify that agencies’ performance management systems meet the criteria
before they can raise the pay cap, the report states.
must build safeguards into their performance appraisal and pay systems
for senior executives, including conducting higher-level reviews of
performance appraisals and communicating the aggregate results with
more transparency, the report states.
“Senior executives need to
lead the way in transforming their agencies to become more
results-oriented, collaborative in nature and customer-focused,” said
Robert Goldenkoff, director of strategic issues at GAO.
OPM survey, senior executives agreed overwhelmingly that pay should be
based on performance, the GAO report states. Therefore, it is important
for them to have confidence that the SES performance-based pay system
is operating as intended and that they will be rewarded according to
their performance, Goldenkoff said.
The agencies that GAO
evaluated for its report said OPM should bolster its communications
with agencies and executives on how it uses the SES performance
appraisal data to determine whether agencies are making meaningful
distinctions among executives.
For the report, GAO evaluated
performance-based pay systems at the Defense, Energy, State and
Treasury Departments; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the U.S.
Agency for International Development. GAO also reviewed OMB’s oversight
and OPM’s guidance.
“Further communication from OPM is important
in order for agencies to have a better understanding of how they are
being held accountable for these certification criteria and make the
necessary improvements to their systems to maintain certification,”
Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.