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Performance Management Reference Materials

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Agencies Develop Awards Criteria

Organizations that move to a pass/fail appraisal program generally discontinue giving performance awards (i.e., awards that are based solely on a rating of record) and develop other criteria for granting awards, including quality step increases. Two agencies that are using pass/fail programs shared their awards criteria, policies, and procedures with conference participants.

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

BPA is a subcomponent of the Department of Energy and is located in Portland, Oregon. BPA has an extensive, innovative awards program that focuses particularly on goal achievement and organizational performance. Of special interest to many of the conference participants were the criteria established by BPA for granting quality step increases since the organization no longer has the Outstanding level of performance (i.e., Level 5) to serve as the basis for the award. To initiate a quality step increase, the recommending supervisor must prepare a justification that specifically describes:

  • the expected work results of the employee being nominated;
  • the actual result(s) achieved and its linkage to established targets;
  • how the employee substantially exceeded the generic performance standards and any specific, expected work results communicated to the employee by the supervisor; and
  • how the employee's performance has been sustained at such a high level throughout the performance appraisal period.

BPA's Success Share Program is another innovative awards program that specifically supports organizational goal achievement. The Success Share Program provides cash payouts to fully successful employees if BPA meets pre-designated target goals established each fiscal year. All eligible blue-collar, white-collar, and Senior Executive Service (SES) employees share equally in the payout. The yearly dollar pool is limited to 1.5 percent of all blue- and white-collar base salaries and the SES dollar pool is funded separately. The number of Success Share targets may vary from year to year and is determined through a process that considers input from bargaining units. Progress towards accomplishment of targets is assessed periodically and reported to the workforce in January, June, and November. The awards program provides for an agencywide celebration each year.

Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA).

HCFA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, designed and operates its awards program using partnership. Its program reflects its commitment to the principles of employee empowerment and ownership in achieving continuous quality improvement. Each bureau within HCFA establishes an awards panel consisting of a minimum of four members with an equal number of union-appointed and management-appointed representatives. Nominations for special act or service, on-the-spot, time-off, and exceptional service awards, and quality step increases are submitted for approval to the panel by the supervisor. The criteria for granting awards include demonstration of one or more of the following:

  • fostering of teamwork;
  • employee initiative and versatility;
  • total quality improvement activities;
  • leadership; and/or
  • other acts that promote customer service or support the agency mission/strategic plan.

HCFA awards panels must conduct annual reviews of their program to determine whether awards are being distributed equitably and fairly, whether the program supports the agency's mission, and whether the program encourages good customer service, teamwork, employee initiative and versatility, total quality activities, and leadership. These evaluations must include feedback from employees and managers on the effectiveness of the program in achieving stated goals. Based upon the results of the reviews, adjustments to the program will be made.

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