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OPM Director Janice R. Lachance presented the first OPM Director's PILLAR Awards on August 28th at OPM's Strategic Compensation Conference in Washington, DC. The OPM Director's PILLAR Award is an honorary award established in 2000 to recognize and publicize effective employee performance management programs, processes, and practices that support alignment of employee performance management practices with organizational strategic goals as well as results-oriented and customer-focused performance. The name of the award stands for Performance, Incentives, and Leadership Linked to Achieve Results. The pillar represents effective performance management because it is the foundation that supports a structure, just as performance management is the foundation that supports good management.

Director Lachance solicited nominations for the award in a May 12 memorandum for heads of executive departments and agencies. We received 35 nominations from 18 agencies. A panel of human resources experts reviewed the nominations and made recommendations to Director Lachance, who made the final selections.

Award recipients

  • Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Southeast Regional Office, for its performance management program, which is part of its Total Quality Management (TQM) Initiative. It closely aligns employee performance and development with organizational goals. The Region has a carefully structured method of establishing strategic goals and cascading them through the organization. Employees develop performance plans based on their respective roles in carrying out those goals. Both supervisors and employees review these plans on an ongoing basis to ensure that all activities continue to align with the Region's strategic plan. Preparation of employee development plans and a variety of development opportunities are also part of the Region's performance management program. A strong emphasis on effective communications has helped to strengthen employees' understanding of their role in this program and in the Region's overall performance. Under these initiatives, the Southeast Regional Office has experienced savings of more than $44.2 million and has seen improvements in accomplishment of organizational goals.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, VA Healthcare Network Upstate New York (VISN 2), for its goalsharing program, an innovative approach to creating a clear "line of sight" between employees and organizational goals. Employees in each of VISN 2's 850 work units develop "stretch" goals tied to the accomplishment of each of five major VISN goals. "Stretch" goals are at least 10 percent better than the consensus expectation of performance for the work unit. If the work unit meets its stretch goals, unit employees receive a payout depending on the extent to which the unit meets those goals. Since initiating the program in 1998, VISN 2 has experienced the second greatest reduction in cost per patient, moved from the bottom third in customer service to being tied for second place within the Department of Veterans Affairs, and became the fourth best of twenty VISNs at attracting new patients. VISN 2 promotes innovation by defining what should be accomplished and allowing frontline employees to work with their teammates in determining how the work is to be done. VISN 2 supports work unit teams through training on goal setting, teambuilding, performance measurement techniques, and quality tools. The Labor Management Partnership at VISN 2 is a full participant in the design and administration of the program. VISN 2 reinforces the program through formal celebrations, monthly feedback sessions, and a web page designed to communicate the program and its successes.

Honorable Mention Recipients

  • Department of the Army, Tobyhanna Army Depot, for its Rewarding the Workforce Award program. Under the program all employees share equally in a monetary award based on performance results attained through business-focused cooperation and teamwork. In 1995, Tobyhanna's Labor Management Partnership Council adopted the recommendation of an Employee Involvement Team that employee awards be directly tied to the Depot's Net Operating Result (NOR). (The NOR is the Depot's primary business performance measure and is analogous to the profit and loss statement of a private sector business.) This resulted in the Rewarding the Workforce Award, which recognizes the Depot workforce as a cohesive team upon whom the Depot's success depends. The Labor Management Partnership Council approved the new award payout system based upon a sliding scale tied to the NOR. Depot management fosters employee knowledge and participation by establishing strategic performance goals and tracking key performance indicators for the installation. The installation then cascades organizational performance information down to all employees at weekly Home Team meetings where employees assess their own and their cost center's contribution to the Depot's overall goals. The program is extremely popular with both management and labor and has contributed to a heightened team spirit and the Depot's continued competitive success.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, John F. Kennedy Space Center, for its Goal Performance Evaluation System (GPES). GPES is a web-based software application. The Center uses it to communicate organizational objectives and strategies throughout the organization. At the beginning of the performance cycle, all organizations define their mission in the format of objectives and underlying strategies. Employees and their supervisors then choose from a universal list of organizational objectives to define employee performance plans, as well as any additional performance expectations and/or mission requirements of their respective offices. GPES has successfully coupled strategic management with employee performance, resulting in a more tightly focused and aligned organization. At the employee level, changes can easily be made to an employee's performance plan throughout the year. At the organizational level, if the mission is modified, the system will automatically and immediately reflect the changes in the employee's performance plan. Center employees also use the system, developed by a cross-section of employees from throughout the Center, to report organizational accomplishments back up the organizational chain of command. As a result, the Center has made a number of beneficial changes to streamline, redefine, and clarify Center mission goals.
  • Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration Logistics Center (FAALC), Quality Systems Group, for its performance management practices, particularly establishing and implementing individual performance plans linked directly to the FAALC Strategic Plan. Using a balanced scorecard as a framework to ensure that all areas of the business are addressed, each employee assists in developing his or her own performance plan with the encouragement of team leaders and division managers. The final outcome is an employee input-based performance plan directly aligned with the FAALC Strategic Plan. Each performance plan focuses on accomplishments rather than activities. The employee performance plans effectively communicate the organization's goals and initiatives to employees and allow employees to see how their work aligns with the organization's strategic direction. The Center uses a 360-degree assessment process to enhance communications. Management supports lowest-level decision making. This has increased employee satisfaction and productivity, and brought about improved organizational, team, and individual performance.

In this inaugural year of the OPM Director's PILLAR Award, we want to acknowledge all the organizations throughout Government who took the time to nominate a performance management practice that contributes to achieving their mission and strategic goals.


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