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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • The regulations read "written, or otherwise recorded."  This language was chosen very deliberately to allow for use of electronic formats.  Although agencies do not have to write performance appraisals on paper, the appraisals must be recorded in some way and agencies must be able to produce a paper copy, if needed.  Purely oral appraisals do not meet the regulatory requirement.
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  • There are agencies and organizations within the Federal Government that are not covered by the performance appraisal provisions in the law and regulations. However, many of them have adopted these procedures or developed their own procedures to evaluate the performance of their employees. The regulations give agencies the basic guidelines by which they can review the performance evaluations employees bring with them from other Federal organizations and determine whether they qualify as equivalent ratings of record that can then be used as the basis for assigning additional service credit in a reduction in force.
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  • Yes. Governmentwide awards regulations allow agencies to use the incentive awards authority to establish a referral bonus program that provides incentives to employees who bring new talent into the agency. Each agency must determine whether using referral bonuses is appropriate for their agency. If an agency decides to establish a referral bonus program, it must establish the criteria it will use to determine when an employee would receive a referral bonus. (For more information see our Criteria for Referral Bonuses.)
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  • It depends on the provisions the agency chooses to use in taking the performnace-based action. If the agency uses the appraisal provisions, an opportunity period must be provided. If the agency uses the adverse action provisions, there is no specific requirement for an opportunity period.
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  • Yes. An agency may give length of service certificates and/or pins in recognition of years of service in the Government of the United States. The agency decides whether to credit both civilian and military service when computing eligibility for career service recognition. Note: For individual employees, Government service as defined for purposes of issuing length of service certificates is not necessarily identical to "creditable service" used to calculate eligibility for things such as leave accumulation or retirement.
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  • No. OPM must review and approve the agency's appraisal system, which sets out the limits within which all the agency's programs must be developed.  OPM must approve the appraisal system before any appraisal program developed under the system can be implemented.
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  • An honorary award is a gesture of respect given to an employee to recognize his or her performance and value to the organization. Honorary awards are generally symbolic. Many agencies include as part of their overall incentive awards programs a traditional form of high-level, formal "honor awards." Often, such honor award programs do not use monetary recognition at all, but emphasize providing formal, highly symbolic recognition of significant contributions and publicly recognizing organizational heroes as examples for other employees to follow. They typically involve formal nominations, are granted in limited numbers, and are approved and presented by senior agency officials in formal ceremonies. The items presented, such as engraved plaques or gold medals, may be fairly expensive to obtain. However, they are principally symbolic in nature and should not convey a sense of monetary value.
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  • If a notice of proposed action has been given to the employee, a change to an appraisal program should have no effect on the action. Regulations contain a specific provision, called the "savings provision," that safeguards administrative procedures pending under a previously approved appraisal program, from being disrupted by the implementation of new programs covered by these regulations. OPM's system approval procedures require agency appraisal programs to have a similar provision to safeguard pending administrative procedures when programs change.
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  • Additional performance elements provide agencies another tool for communicating performance expectations important to the organization. In essence, they are dimensions or aspects of overall performance the agency wishes to communicate and appraise, but which will not be used in assigning a summary level. Such additional elements may include objectives, goals, program plans, work plans, and other methods of expressing expected performance. Like non-critical elements, they do not have to be appraised at any particular level. Their major distinctions from non-critical elements are they cannot be used in assigning a summary level and additional performance elements do not require a performance standard. They allow agencies to factor group or team performance into the performance plan of employees under two-level (Pass/Fail) summary appraisal programs.
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  • Yes. However, agencies must be aware there are Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) implications when they directly link award amounts to specific ratings. When an agency predetermines an award amount or guarantees an award payment for a specific rating, the award is considered nondiscretionary. Nondiscretionary awards must be included in total remuneration and impact the calculation of overtime payments.
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