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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • 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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  • No, the prohibitions contained in the criminal code do not bar agencies from providing referral bonuses to employees who have referred potential job applicants. An opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice, states that the prohibitions in the criminal code seek to prevent candidates for federal employment from having to pay influence-peddlers or employment agencies to obtain government positions (13 Op. Off. Legal Counsel 277, 1989).
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  • No, the regulations require that agencies look at the situation and make a determination on what, if anything, should be done regarding the credit assigned for ratings of record when there is a mix of rating patterns among the ratings of record being credited for reduction in force. If the agency decides that the best course of action is to still use the 12/16/20 assignment of credit, they may do so.
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  • No. Case law establishes that performance elements and standards are nonnegotiable based on management's rights to direct employees and assign work through the establishment of performance plans.
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  • If an employee has fewer than three ratings of record during the last four years, the actual rating(s) of record available would serve as the sole basis of the employee's credit (no assumed ratings would be used). Consequently, if an employee has received only two actual ratings of record during this period, the value assigned to each rating would be added together and divided by two to determine the amount of additional retention service credit. If an employee has only one actual rating of record, the value assigned to that rating would be used. If, however, the employee has no ratings of record during the last four years, the modal rating for the appraisal program that covers the employee's position of record at the time of the reduction in force is used to grant performance credit.
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  • The modal rating is the latest rating of record summary level given most often within a single pattern to the employees in a specified group that is no smaller than the competitive area and no larger than the agency undergoing a reduction in force. It is important that the employees undergoing a reduction in force understand the basis used to determine the modal rating.
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  • An agency program must specify the length of its minimum period and that minimum must fall within any limits established by the agency appraisal system.  When an agency decides to use the minimum period as the length of the opportunity period, the minimum period is one of the program features that may be subject to third-party review.  Agencies are advised to be careful in determining the time limits to be used and avoid setting minimum periods that might be judged unreasonably short.
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  • Agencies may present such certificates and vouchers if they are being used as informal recognition awards. Merchant gift certificates should not be confused with cash surrogates (which are vouchers or checks that can be easily and widely redeemable for cash, not merchandise). Gift certificates usually are given when the intent is to give something but let the recipient make the final choice. Merchandise certificates cannot meet a cash surrogate's criterion of being easily negotiable because of limitations on where, how, and for what they may be redeemed. Gift certificates fail to meet the criteria for honorary awards because they convey a clear monetary value and cannot be characterized as symbolizing the employer-employee relationship. Consequently, the only circumstance where a gift certificate may be used to recognize an employee contribution is as an informal recognition award, which may not exceed nominal value. Agencies also need to be aware that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers gift certificates to be taxable fringe benefits that must be taxed on their fair market value. The face value of a gift certificate would be considered its fair market value. Further questions on taxable fringe benefits should be directed to the IRS.
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  • In designing their award programs, agencies have a responsibility to look beyond the award regulations themselves and make sure that the specific reward and incentive programs that are being proposed do not conflict with other laws or regulations. Examples of other rules that can be directly related to incentive/reward schemes are procurement, travel, Fair Labor Standards Act, and tax withholding. These compliance issues surface most often when we are asked to review an agency's proposal for an innovative award scheme.
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  • Yes, for excepted service positions only. OPM has the authority to exclude positions not in the competitive service from the requirements when requested by the head of the agency.
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