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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • The term has no precise definition in policy or practice, but "forced distribution" generally is associated with the idea of limiting awards to a certain number or percentage of employees. Relative comparisons among individuals or groups, such as rank ordering or categorizing employees, can be used for making decisions about distributing awards. For example, agencies may limit awards to the top three producers or teams, or limit awards to those individuals or groups that exceeded certain goals. Agencies can also establish criteria for categories of awards that are given only to a selected number of recipients who best fit the criteria, although the criteria might have been met by more than one person or team.
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  • No. A rating of record does not change when an employee moves to another agency or organization, whether or not they use a different summary pattern. However, an employee will not know how many years of additional service credit will be given for a specific rating of record until an agency is getting ready to run a reduction in force.
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  • In some limited circumstances merchandise items could be used as an honorary award or informal recognition award. Merchandise may be used for awards purposes if and only if the item meets the criteria for an honorary award or an informal recognition award. Agencies need to be aware that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers merchandise to be a taxable fringe benefit that must be taxed on its fair market value. Further questions on taxable fringe benefits should be directed to the IRS.
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  • No.  The Governmentwide regulations permit non-critical elements to have a greater weight in determining the final summary level.  However, if performance on any critical element is appraised as Unacceptable, a Level 1 summary must be assigned and performance on a non-critical element can not be used to raise that summary above Level 1, no matter the weight it might receive in other circumstances.
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  • The possible effect of performance-based additional service credit is most likely to appear in the second round of the reduction in force process, when employees exercise their bump (into positions held by employees in lower tenure groups for which they meet the basic qualification standard) and retreat (to previously held positions) rights.  Even at this stage, experience suggests that the performance-based additional service credit often has no impact on the actual final result of the reduction in force.
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  • Yes. Provided the temporary employees meet the Governmentwide requirements. An agency may exclude an employee who:

    is serving in a position under a temporary position for less than 1 year,
    agrees to serve without a performance evaluation, and
    will not be considered for a reappointment or for an increase in pay based in whole or in part on performance.

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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. The regulations require that agency officials evaluate employee performance periodically against agency-assigned elements and standards. Since agencies cannot assign union work, this work cannot be included as elements and standards and is not subject to appraisal. As a result, employees who spend 100 percent of their time as employee representatives cannot receive a rating of record. Subsequently, since a rating of record is the basis for a performance or rating-based award, these employees are not eligible for performance awards.
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  • If an employee has fewer than three ratings of record during the last four years, the actual rating(s) of record available would serve as the sole basis of the employee's credit (no assumed ratings would be used). Consequently, if an employee has received only two actual ratings of record during this period, the value assigned to each rating would be added together and divided by two to determine the amount of additional retention service credit. If an employee has only one actual rating of record, the value assigned to that rating would be used. If, however, the employee has no ratings of record during the last four years, the modal rating for the appraisal program that covers the employee's position of record at the time of the reduction in force is used to grant performance credit.
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  • Additional years of service credit are added to an employee's length of service based on the employee's three most recent ratings of record during the four years prior to the reduction in force. In a competitive area where all the ratings of record being credited were done under a single pattern of summary levels, the additional service credit is computed by averaging the three most recent ratings of record given in the previous four years using the following values:

    20 years of service for each Level 5 (Outstanding or equivalent rating);
    16 years of service for each Level 4; and
    12 years of service for each Level 3 (Fully Successful or equivalent rating).

    In an agency where employees in a competitive area have ratings of record being credited for reduction in force that were done under more than one pattern of summary levels, the agency can establish the values for the summary levels (within 12 to 20 years) so that performance crediting will be as fair and equitable as possible. Within a competitive area, the agency must use the same number of years additional retention service credit for all ratings of record with the same summary level in the same pattern of summary levels.
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