Survey reveals discontent with pay-for-performance plans

Federally Employed Women poll finds respondents largely dissatisfied with pay-for-performance personnel systems

By an overwhelming majority, respondents to a Federally Employed Women (FEW) survey said they were largely dissatisfied with government attempts to replace the General Schedule with pay-for-performance personnel systems.

By about a 2-to-1 ratio, FEW members who responded to the survey said they felt the benefits of the multiple pay-for-performance systems were far outweighed by the drawbacks, FEW said in a Jan. 7 statement.

“While they (respondents) concurred that there were some beneficial reasons, in theory, to support these types of systems, current attempts in the federal government to implement them have been woefully inadequate, according to the survey results,” the group said.

By far, the biggest criticism about a pay-for-performance personnel system is that managers are given too much discretion in evaluating employees when they have not been fully trained, the report said. In many cases respondents reported that supervisors simply rated all their employees as “average” because they did not have the training or expertise to adequately document different levels of performance. This average rating meant that employees would be lucky to receive a salary increase higher than the cost-of-living increase for that year, the report said.

Favoritism was another concern frequently cited by FEW members. Too often, they said, a good rating depended not on whether employees did the job, but if the manager liked them, the report said.

As a safeguard, FEW said the Office of Personnel Management should install an independent board of personnel experts to review evaluations that are appealed by employees. The appeals should not be heard and reviewed by the same agency that wrote the employee review, FEW said.

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