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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • No employee has an entitlement to an award. An agency's policy must include the criteria to be considered when making award recommendations and decisions.
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  • Governmentwide regulations specify three types of performance elements:
    • critical elements
    • non-critical elements
    • additional performance elements
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  • The term has no precise definition in policy or practice, but "forced distribution" generally is associated with the idea of limiting awards to a certain number or percentage of employees. Relative comparisons among individuals or groups, such as rank ordering or categorizing employees, can be used for making decisions about distributing awards. For example, agencies may limit awards to the top three producers or teams, or limit awards to those individuals or groups that exceeded certain goals. Agencies can also establish criteria for categories of awards that are given only to a selected number of recipients who best fit the criteria, although the criteria might have been met by more than one person or team.
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  • Yes. An agency can design procedures for deriving a rating of record that assign greater weight to non-critical elements (which may be used to measure team performance and may affect the rating of record) than to critical elements.  If desired, in summarizing overall performance at or above the "Fully Successful" level, agencies can make distinctions on the basis of team performance alone.
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  • Statute restricts performance awards to no more than 10 percent of the employee's annual rate of basic pay, except that a rating-based award may exceed 10 percent if the agency head determines that an employee's exceptional performance justifies such an award. However, in no case may a rating-based award exceed 20 percent of the employee's annual rate of basic pay.
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  • In some limited circumstances merchandise items could be used as an honorary award or informal recognition award. Merchandise may be used for awards purposes if and only if the item meets the criteria for an honorary award or an informal recognition award. Agencies need to be aware that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers merchandise to be a taxable fringe benefit that must be taxed on its fair market value. Further questions on taxable fringe benefits should be directed to the IRS.
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  • No. The regulations require that agency officials evaluate employee performance periodically against agency-assigned elements and standards. Since agencies cannot assign union work, this work cannot be included as elements and standards and is not subject to appraisal. As a result, employees who spend 100 percent of their time as employee representatives cannot receive a rating of record. Subsequently, since a rating of record is the basis for a performance or rating-based award, these employees are not eligible for performance awards.
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  • Yes.  The individual critical element must describe performance that is reasonably measured and controlled at the individual employee's level.  Such performance includes individual contributions to the team, but does not include team performance.
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  • Additional years of service credit are added to an employee's length of service based on the employee's three most recent ratings of record during the four years prior to the reduction in force. In a competitive area where all the ratings of record being credited were done under a single pattern of summary levels, the additional service credit is computed by averaging the three most recent ratings of record given in the previous four years using the following values: 20 years of service for each Level 5 (Outstanding or equivalent rating); 16 years of service for each Level 4; and 12 years of service for each Level 3 (Fully Successful or equivalent rating). In an agency where employees in a competitive area have ratings of record being credited for reduction in force that were done under more than one pattern of summary levels, the agency can establish the values for the summary levels (within 12 to 20 years) so that performance crediting will be as fair and equitable as possible. Within a competitive area, the agency must use the same number of years additional retention service credit for all ratings of record with the same summary level in the same pattern of summary levels.
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  • Ideally, an agency would close out the current appraisal period and issue ratings of record at the time specified under the existing appraisal program and then begin the next appraisal period under the terms of the new program.
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