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Performance Management Reference Materials

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Regulations Clarify Rating of Record Definition

The regulations on ratings of record that were published in the Federal Register on October 5, 1998, (63FR192, page 53275) and became effective on November 4, 1998, seek to ensure uniform application of long standing policy. This article answers common questions we have received about the rating of record policies covered by these OPM regulations.

Extending the appraisal period

Once a rating of record is issued, the agency cannot change it except under special, limited circumstances. Rating officials must prepare the rating of record when it is due based on their knowledge of the employee's performance at that time. If a rating official has reason to believe that information will soon become available that will significantly impact the evaluation of the employee's performance, such as an investigation that is underway, the agency can extend the appraisal period to capture that information in the rating of record.

If ratings of record were not assigned for previous appraisal periods

Agencies should issue ratings of record as soon as practicable after the end of the appraisal period. Once a subsequent rating of record has been assigned or an agency-imposed deadline has passed, ratings of record for previous periods cannot be assigned. The Governmentwide regulations now explicitly permit—but do not require—agencies to establish such deadlines for issuing ratings of record.

When ratings of record are considered final

Once everyone who is required by the applicable performance appraisal program to review and sign the rating of record does so and the employee receives it, it is final. Employees can still challenge ratings of record that they believe do not accurately reflect their performance, either informally within 60 days or formally within the time periods established by the agency.

Assumed ratings

Our policies have prohibited the use of assumed ratings since the mid-1980s. While some administrative uses of assumed performance levels have been applied to other personnel actions, assumed ratings have not been permitted since then. The regulations now specifically contain this policy.

Last year's rating cannot be carried over

The rating of record reflects the employee's performance for the covered appraisal period. As required by law, the employee's performance must be evaluated periodically against his or her elements and standards. Carrying over a previous rating into later appraisal periods does not do this.

Recertifying last year's rating

Although very similar, a significant difference exists between carrying over a rating of record and recertifying one. Carrying over a rating of record implies that no current evaluation of performance has been done. On the other hand, a recertification process must include a review of current performance so the rating official can certify that the performance is the same as reflected in the previous rating. Recertification processes also must include a discussion between the rating official and the employee to review the more current performance.

Changing a rating of record

An agency can change a rating of record when— within 60 days of receiving it, an employee informally has asked the rating official to review the rating given because the employee does not agree with it and has additional information to present; the employee filed a formal complaint through one of the permissible avenues and a changed rating of record results as settlement or is ordered by the appropriate authority resolving the formal complaint; or the agency notices a mistake was made in calculating or recording the rating of record and corrects it.

If you have additional questions about the rating of record regulations, you may call or email our office.

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