Administration unveils new senior executive performance measurements

This story has been updated.

The Office of Personnel Management on Friday unveiled a new performance management system for the Senior Executive Service.

Originally slated for completion in September 2011, the new measurements aim to streamline the way top managers in the federal government are evaluated.

"Under the new system, agencies will be able to rely upon a more consistent and uniform framework to communicate expectations and evaluate the performance of SES members," OPM Director John Berry wrote in a statement Friday.

"This system focuses, in particular, on the role and responsibility of SES employees to achieve results through effective executive leadership," Berry said. "The new system will also provide the necessary flexibility and capability for appropriate customization to better meet the needs of all agencies and other federal organizations (e.g., offices of inspectors general)."

The President's Management Council started a working group in 2010 to examine ways to improve SES performance evaluation. The recommendation to create a standard system came out of that group.

In a February 2011 memo to SES members, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients and Berry wrote that tight budgets, along with a growing workload, impending retirements and limited opportunities for development were straining the executive-level workforce.

Under the new management system, the core qualifications that determine a candidate's entry into the SES are applied to performance evaluations -- a move that makes sense, said Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association. The five core competencies are: leading people, leading change, results driven, business acumen and building coalition.

Executives who receive a final rating of "unsatisfactory" will be removed or reassigned; those who receive two ratings at less than Level 3 (of five levels) within three years will also be removed or reassigned, as will those who receive two level 1 ratings within five years. Overall, the SEA is "pleased" with the new system, which Bonosaro said "does tighten the level of performance."

Some senior executives have expressed concern over whether they will be rated fairly under the new measurement, fearing an administration could give out lower performance ratings for its own political benefit.

Under the current system, "plenty of executives have seen their ratings lowered without explanation," Bonosaro said.

In fiscal 2010, more than one third of all SES members received the highest possible rating.

"Having clarity about performance standards, that's all fine, but I think [senior managers] are just going to see if this is going to produce a different experience, or a better experience" with performance evaluations, she added.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.