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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • 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.  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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • No employee has an entitlement to an award. An agency's policy must include the criteria to be considered when making award recommendations and decisions.
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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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  • It depends on the type of award granted. For the most part, compensation-related information in the Federal Government is a matter of public record or obtainable under the Freedom of Information Act. Generally, this includes award payments except for rating-based awards. Agencies may not disclose award amounts if doing so could reveal the recipient's rating of record, which is protected information under the Privacy Act. For information on specific situations, contact your Office of General Counsel or Privacy Officer.
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  • The minimum period is the shortest length of time established by the agency that an employee must perform under assigned elements and standards before a performance rating can be prepared.  The appraisal period is length of time designated by the agency (usually one year) that is the basis for the rating of record.
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