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On the benefit tour... hearing about personnel systems at the NIH Children's Inn benefit

FCW was part of AFCEA Bethesda's annual benefit for the NIH Children's Inn this weekend. This is always one of my favorite events of the year in part because it is such an amazing cause. The Children's Inn is similar to the Ronald MacDonald Houses that are around the country -- they offer a home for the families of seriously ill children who end up having to spend so much time at the hospital. This year, Amy Knopfmacher spoke. A suburban Washington, D.C. high school student, she has been fighting cancer, which has necessitated chemotherapy. She is clearly a very brave young woman who has been asked to deal with way too much for her age.

There was also an auction of two quilts designed and made by the kids at the Children's Inn. There was also an auction of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, which was won by Larry Rosenfeld, chief executive officer at Sage Communications. (I'm sticking to my bicycle – of the pedal variety.)

During dinner, I set next to a long time Pentagon worker who is involved in the Defense Department's personnel reform measures, which they call the National Security Personnel System.

It was an interesting conversations because I was under the incorrect impression that the court decision had largely halted the personnel changes until the lawsuit issues had been resolved. But apparently DOD has only delayed implementing the systems for union employees.

If you haven't been following this all that closely – and if you are a fed, you may want to – the personnel changes both at DOD and at the Homeland Security Department seek to create a greater link between pay and performance. And it is a concept that seems so simple, but as we well know, nothing is simple.

The person who I sat next to on Saturday – who has enough time so he will not really be impacted – but he said he has been at DOD long enough to know there is very little that doesn't get messed up in some way and that people are concerned that the personnel system is too important to take a chance. He noted that performance systems inevitably becomes an 'everybody gets an A' system… and therefore no longer becomes viable.

The concerns I had been hearing was that people didn't have faith in managers ability to truly assess performance.

It is a fascinating story that we will continue to follow.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Apr 05, 2006 at 12:15 PM


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