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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • The law intends critical elements to be used to establish individual accountability.  This restriction is clearest for non-supervisory employees who may be serving as team members.  Consequently, critical elements generally are not appropriate for identifying and measuring team performance, which by its definition involves shared accountability. A supervisor or manager can and should be held accountable for seeing that results measured at the group or team level are achieved.  Critical elements assessing group performance may be appropriate to include in the performance plan of a supervisor, manager or team leader who can reasonably be expected to command the resources and authority necessary to achieve the results (i.e., be held individually accountable). However, agencies can use other ways to factor team performance into ratings of record or other performance-related decisions, such as granting awards.  One approach to bringing team performance into the process of deriving a rating of record, and certainly to the process of distributing recognition and rewards, is to establish team performance goals within the team members' performance plans as either non-critical or additional performance elements.
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  • Yes. There are some award restrictions regarding political appointees depending on the nature of their appointment. Non-career SES members are not eligible for performance awards or Presidential Rank Awards. In addition, non-career SES and employees in confidential or policy-determining Schedule C positions may not receive awards during a Presidential election period (June 1 of a Presidential election year through January 20 of the following year). Meanwhile, PAS appointees (employees appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate) may not receive awards at any time.
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  • Yes. Regulations allow agencies to grant non-GS employees rating-based awards if the employees are covered by the awards regulations and not otherwise covered by a separate statute that authorizes rating-based awards (e.g., members of the Senior Executive Service).
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  • The importance of team performance can be emphasized through the creation of appropriate awards.  Where goals are reasonably stable, measurable and achievable, agencies may wish to establish incentive awards that are granted on the basis of achieving team performance objectives or sharing savings from gains in team efficiency and productivity among team members.
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  • No.  Higher-level review of ratings of record above Level 1 is not a Governmentwide requirement.  However, agencies may decide that higher-level review is a good practice and provides a measure of fairness.
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  • No. The level designators (Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 5) described in Governmentwide regulations address summary levels only. An agency appraisal program can be designed to appraise elements using a mix of rating levels. For example, critical elements might be appraised at five levels and non-critical elements appraised as pass/fail. A methodology for deriving a summary rating must be in place, however. Agencies have flexibility to determine how their elements are appraised and their particular program design choices that agencies and their subcomponents make should reflect their own situations and needs.
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  • Performance at the individual level means the accomplishment of outputs and work processes for which the employee can be held individually accountable. Because failure of a critical element can result in an employee's reduction in grade or removal, critical elements would measure those outputs/outcomes and processes over which the employee is expected or intended to have control and exercise authority.
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  • Yes, as long as employees with higher ratings of record receive higher dollar amounts than those with lower ratings of record (e.g., an award program must grant GS-9's who receive an outstanding rating a higher dollar amount than GS-9's who receive a fully successful rating). Agencies may use their discretion whether to pay rating-based awards as a lump-sum dollar amount or a percentage of base pay.
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  • No. Regulations do not require that the appraisal period be ended to change appraisal programs. However, agencies need to remember that the regulations permit only a single rating of record in a given appraisal period.
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  • Honorary awards represent symbolic formal recognition. Items presented as honorary awards must meet all of the following criteria: The item must be something that the recipient could reasonably be expected to value, but not something that conveys a sense of monetary value. The item must have a lasting trophy value. The item must clearly symbolize the employer-employee relationship in some fashion. The item must take an appropriate form to be used in the public sector and to be purchased with public funds.
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