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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • Governmentwide regulations do not specify a minimum amount of time a supervisor must be on the job before he/she may rate an employee.  Agency performance appraisal programs may require a minimum amount of time the supervisor must be on the job before rating an employee.
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  • An appraisal system describes the general policies and parameters for the administration of performance appraisal programs in the agency. An appraisal program is the specific procedures, methods, and requirements for planning, monitoring, and rating performance. Programs have to be designed within the boundaries of the system but can be tailored to the needs of the organization.
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  • No, but they are  similar.  A performance rating is the appraisal of the employee's performance compared to the elements and standards established in the performance plan.  The rating of record is a specific performance rating done at the end of the appraisal period that includes the appraisal of the elements and standards and also must include the assignment of a summary level (Levels 1-5).  A summary level is an ordered category of performance from Level 1 through Level 5, with Level 1 as the lowest and Level 5 as the highest.  Performance ratings assigned at times other than the end of the appraisal period (such as at the mid-year review, for promotion panels, or similar situations) do not require a summary level to be assigned, although one is permitted.
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  • Governmentwide performance management regulations do not specifically designate who has the authority to assign a rating of record.  The agency will determine who has this authority.
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  • The "currency" of a time-off award is time, not money. Agencies have the authority to grant cash awards when they feel that is the appropriate form of recognition or incentive.
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  • A non-critical element is a dimension or aspect of individual, team or organizational performance, exclusive of a critical element, used in assigning a summary level. It may include, but is not limited to, objectives, goals, program plans, work plans, and other means of expressing expected performance.
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  • Yes. OPM is required by statute to approve performance appraisal systems to ensure they meet statutory and regulatory requirements.
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  • No. Each program must use a single pattern of summary levels. To use different summary patterns, agencies must define separate programs and employee coverage to which a single pattern applies. However, more than one program can use the same summary pattern.
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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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