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Performance Management Performance Management FAQs

  • A performance-based cash award, also commonly known as a rating-based award, is a lump-sum cash payment and requires only the most recent rating of record as the sole justification for the award. Rating-based cash awards must be based on a rating of record at the "fully successful" level (or equivalent) or higher, and rating-based awards programs, as designed and applied, must make meaningful distinctions based on levels of performance.
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  • A retention standard describes the level of performance necessary to be retained in a job (i.e., the standard written for performance one level above the Unacceptable level). In appraisal programs where a Minimally Successful or equivalent level exists for appraising elements, the retention standard is the Minimally Successful or equivalent standard. In appraisal programs that do not have a Minimally Successful or equivalent level available, the retention standard is the Fully Successful standard. The Merit Systems Protection Board and the courts have held that an agency
    • must ensure that retention standards:
    • are reasonably attainable
    • are not impermissibly absolute (allow for no error)
    • inform the employee of the level of performance needed to retain his or her job
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  • While employees must receive a rating of record at the highest summary level used by the program and meet the agency-specified criteria for qualifying for a quality step increase, a separate written justification is not required. However, the Office of Personnel Management strongly encourages agencies to require some form of recorded justification, assuring compliance with agency-established criteria for quality step increase eligibility. This will enable the agency to show that the proposed recipient has performed at a truly exceptional level to justify a permanent increase in his or her rate of basic pay.
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  • Informal recognition awards are a type of award that may be given to recognize performance that, taken alone, does not merit a larger award, such as cash, time-off, or an honorary award. Agencies are finding that they can effectively and efficiently achieve many of the goals of a recognition and incentive award program by providing more frequent, timely, and informal recognition of employees and group contributions. Informal recognition awards must meet the following criteria: The item must be of nominal value. 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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  • Yes.  Governmentwide regulations define a rating of record as the performance rating completed at the end of the appraisal period that reflects performance over the entire period, or an off-cycle rating of record given when a within-grade increase (WGI) decision is not consistent with the employee's most recent rating of record and a more current rating of record must be prepared.  These are the only times that a rating of record can be issued.
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  • Yes. In the Federal Government, there are four types of awards — cash awards, time off awards, honorary awards, and informal recognition awards. Agencies may use any combination of award types to reward a specific contribution.  For example, an employee might receive both a certificate and a cash award as recognition for a single contribution.  However, the overall combined value of the awards should not exceed the value to the organization of the contribution recognized. Thus, the award should be commensurate with the contribution of the employee.
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  • No. An employee must have a "fully successful" or equivalent rating of record or higher to be eligible to receive a rating-based cash award.
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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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  • Yes. An employee may receive both an award based on a rating of record and an award based on a specific contribution in a single year. The most important factor in deciding whether to grant multiple awards is that the total value of the awards must be commensurate with the value to the organization of the accomplishment recognized. In addition, agencies must ensure they comply with all applicable requirements, including OPM approval of awards over $10,000.
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  • No.  Both a performance rating and a rating of record involve the evaluation of an employee's performance against all the elements and standards in the performance plan.  At any time during the appraisal period, an agency can make the determination that an employee's performance is unacceptable on one or more critical elements.  This determination is sufficient to begin the process that could lead to a performance-based action if the employee's performance fails to improve to an acceptable level.
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  • An acceptable level of competence determination can be delayed for only two reasons: when an employee has not had the minimum period of time to demonstrate acceptable performance on his or her elements and standards; and when an employee is reduced in grade because of unacceptable performance to a position in which he or she is eligible for a within-grade increase or will become eligible within the minimum appraisal period.
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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • No. The regulations specifically restrict the delay of a within-grade determination to two conditions. Permitting the delay of a within-grade determination for employees completing a PIP would give an unfair advantage to an employee whose performance has been determined to be unacceptable (a condition upon which the PIP is based) over employees whose most recent rating of record is Level 2 (marginal, minimally successful, etc.) and who are not eligible for a within-grade increase. There is no requirement to give an employee a rating of record before beginning a PIP. If a within-grade increase determination is due during an employee's PIP, the agency needs to make sure it reviews the employee's most recent rating of record and determines whether a new rating of record is needed to support the within-grade decision. If the last rating of record does not support a within-grade denial, a new rating of record must be given for that purpose. If the agency chooses to use the last rating of record of Level 3 (Fully Successful or equivalent) or better and grant the within-grade, they need to realize they are certifying the employee as performing at that level and jeopardizing any future performance-based action that might have been based on performance during that time period.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • No. The circumstances appropriate for the use of compensatory time are not generally appropriate for a time-off award. Compensatory time is authorized in exchange for hours worked in excess of the employee's regular work schedule. Awarding time off instead of compensatory time violates the incentive awards concept of recognizing exceptional performance, as opposed to compensating for extended work schedules.
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Total Count: 135, Number of Pages: 7, Page: 2
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