RIF Rule Changes Proposed The Office of Personnel Management is considering a series of changes to its reduction in force rules. Under the proposed changes, agencies will be able to make better use of performance rating information in the decisions about which employees lose their jobs during a RIF. Performance ratings are used to add extra years of retention credit when calculating seniority (RIFs are in part based upon seniority). One proposed change would allow agencies to go further back in an employee's work history to obtain performance ratings. The current formula relies on the three most recent ratings received during the previous four years of service. If three ratings are not available (in cases when an employee is new to government service or has been on disability leave, for example), then "fully successful" ratings are assumed for the purposes of additional service calculation. Under the new rules, the agency may go back up to six years in order to use actual performance review data. The proposed regulations also address the fact that many agencies now use rating systems (such as pass/fail systems) other than the traditional five-step system. In cases where an agency is conducting a RIF with a group of employees who have been graded under different systems, it is on its own to come up with a formula for assigning service credit based on the different rating systems. "OPM has determined that too many combinations of rating patterns . . . will occur in the future to mandate any particular crediting formula," the agency says. The proposed regulations do not change the relative importance of performance as it relates to the other retention factors (tenure of apppointment, length of service and veterans' preference) and do not change the present range of additional retention service credit provided based on performance. For a copy of the proposed RIF rules, click here.