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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • Yes.  Agencies may use any procedures they deem appropriate for considering performance when granting awards and taking other personnel actions, with the following exceptions:  assigning additional service credit in a reduction in force and granting within-grade increases for General Schedule employees and prevailing rate system employees, which are tied to ratings of record and performance ratings respectively.
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  • The modal rating is the latest rating of record summary level given most often within a single pattern to the employees in a specified group that is no smaller than the competitive area and no larger than the agency undergoing a reduction in force. It is important that the employees undergoing a reduction in force understand the basis used to determine the modal rating.
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  • An agency program must specify the length of its minimum period and that minimum must fall within any limits established by the agency appraisal system.  When an agency decides to use the minimum period as the length of the opportunity period, the minimum period is one of the program features that may be subject to third-party review.  Agencies are advised to be careful in determining the time limits to be used and avoid setting minimum periods that might be judged unreasonably short.
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  • An agency may not hold an employee accountable for work that does not get done because of an absence for which the employee is on any type of approved leave. If there is a specific performance standard for the appraisal year, it may be prorated for the amount of time the employee was at work.
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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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  • 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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  • If a notice of proposed action has been given to the employee, a change to an appraisal program should have no effect on the action. Regulations contain a specific provision, called the "savings provision," that safeguards administrative procedures pending under a previously approved appraisal program, from being disrupted by the implementation of new programs covered by these regulations. OPM's system approval procedures require agency appraisal programs to have a similar provision to safeguard pending administrative procedures when programs change.
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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. OPM encourages agencies to hold supervisors accountable for fulfilling their performance management responsibilities. Agencies often establish elements and standards in the raters' performance plans to hold them accountable for the performance management of their subordinates.
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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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