Workforce Wonk

By Alyah Khan

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Rating feds' performance: Changes are in the works

How can the government improve its method for evaluating employees so that those with better performance are rewarded appropriately?

Answering that question seems to be the first step in weighing whether the government should implement a federal pay-for-performance system, and it is also an issue I plan to explore in my next Federal Workforce column.

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry stressed the importance of strengthening performance evaluations before even beginning discussions on federal salaries at a March 9 House hearing titled, “Are federal workers underpaid?”

Berry told lawmakers that he thinks performance evaluations should be based on aligning organizational mission and goals to individual performance, as well as managers and employees having regular conversations about whether they are on track to meet their goals.

Experts I’ve spoken with so far have largely agreed with Berry’s comments. They say that while performance management varies among agencies, the government as a whole must reform the way it measures employee performance because not all feds deserve an above average rating.

“We can’t treat all 2 million of our government employees the same,” said Jon Desenberg, senior policy director at the Performance Institute.

Desenberg suggested the government must place more emphasis on the role of supervisors to develop goals with their employees and follow through on those goals. He added that he thinks the Defense Department’s National Security Personnel System broke down because of poor supervisors.

Others said changes in the performance evaluation process should result in a focus on metrics, not labels, and will require leadership from OPM and the Office of Management and Budget.

What do you think needs to change about the way the government evaluates its employees?  Are there things that should stay the same? Do you think your agency does a good job when it comes to performance evaluations? If so, what does your agency do well?

Posted by Alyah Khan on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:20 PM


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