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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • No. The level designators (Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 5) described in Governmentwide regulations address summary levels only. An agency appraisal program can be designed to appraise elements using a mix of rating levels. For example, critical elements might be appraised at five levels and non-critical elements appraised as pass/fail. A methodology for deriving a summary rating must be in place, however. Agencies have flexibility to determine how their elements are appraised and their particular program design choices that agencies and their subcomponents make should reflect their own situations and needs.
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  • Only cash and time-off awards must be reported to the Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI). However, if an agency grants a cash stipend or honorarium with an honorary award, it should report that cash payment to the EHRI. For additional information on how to report cash awards to the EHRI and refer to Guide to Processing Personnel Actions.
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  • Yes. There are some award restrictions regarding political appointees depending on the nature of their appointment. Non-career SES members are not eligible for performance awards or Presidential Rank Awards. In addition, non-career SES and employees in confidential or policy-determining Schedule C positions may not receive awards during a Presidential election period (June 1 of a Presidential election year through January 20 of the following year). Meanwhile, PAS appointees (employees appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate) may not receive awards at any time.
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  • Honorary awards represent symbolic formal recognition. Items presented as honorary awards must meet all of the following criteria:

    The item must be something that the recipient could reasonably be expected to value, but not something that conveys a sense of monetary value.
    The item must have a lasting trophy value.
    The item must clearly symbolize the employer-employee relationship in some fashion.
    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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  • There should be no significant difference between managing the performance of a teleworker and managing the employee who works in the office.
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  • An employee who meets the agency-established criteria for such a bonus, whose official duties do not include recruitment, and who is not involved in any way in the selection of the referred individual would be eligible for a referral bonus. Also, an employee cannot refer a relative, as defined by 5 U.S.C. 3110(a)(3).
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  • No.  The statute requires that each employee be appraised against his or her performance standard(s).  It does not allow for appraising an employee by "presuming" that an employee is meeting performance standards.  For the same reason, the process for appraising employees described by the regulations does not provide for any "assumed" levels of performance.
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  • If the proposed program covers bargaining unit employees, the agency is obligated to notify the union and afford it the opportunity to negotiate on the impact and implementation of the appraisal program. In addition to the agency's legal requirements, OPM encourages agencies to involve employees in the design and implementation of their appraisal program.
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  • The law intends critical elements to be used to establish individual accountability.  This restriction is clearest for non-supervisory employees who may be serving as team members.  Consequently, critical elements generally are not appropriate for identifying and measuring team performance, which by its definition involves shared accountability.

    A supervisor or manager can and should be held accountable for seeing that results measured at the group or team level are achieved.  Critical elements assessing group performance may be appropriate to include in the performance plan of a supervisor, manager or team leader who can reasonably be expected to command the resources and authority necessary to achieve the results (i.e., be held individually accountable).

    However, agencies can use other ways to factor team performance into ratings of record or other performance-related decisions, such as granting awards.  One approach to bringing team performance into the process of deriving a rating of record, and certainly to the process of distributing recognition and rewards, is to establish team performance goals within the team members' performance plans as either non-critical or additional performance elements.

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  • In designing their award programs, agencies have a responsibility to look beyond the award regulations themselves and make sure that the specific reward and incentive programs that are being proposed do not conflict with other laws or regulations. Examples of other rules that can be directly related to incentive/reward schemes are procurement, travel, Fair Labor Standards Act, and tax withholding. These compliance issues surface most often when we are asked to review an agency's proposal for an innovative award scheme.
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