GSA Updates Plan for Improving Employees’ Job Performance as Part of Reorg Strategy

FOIA’d document formed basis for response to White House reorganization initiative.

While reorganizing to seek the efficiencies demanded by the Trump White House, the General Services Administration updated its internal employee performance improvement plan to focus on “linking individual performance to organizational goals, clarifying performance expectations, and providing appropriate and timely recognition of exceptional performance.”

The plan, circulated among employees in May, was obtained by Government Executive this week under the Freedom of Information Act. Citing the “pre-decisional” exception under FOIA, GSA declined to release the set of recommendations for efficiencies it, like all agencies, was required to deliver to the Office of Management and Budget by June 30. (Many agencies, it appears, are waiting to release their submissions until they are finalized by OMB--the State Department even declined to release a related employee survey.)

In response to an inquiry, GSA said it had no responsive documents involving plans for any layoffs or buyouts.

The May performance plan update stressed that both individual and organizational improvements are being sought, with maximum transparency. It aims for standardized performance plan elements, improving plans and measures, addressing poor performance, delivering timely evaluations and recognizing management performance initiatives, the document said. Also in the works are uses of data to plan management training along with “just in time” support for local, regional and national managers to improve accountability and feedback.

In the past two years, GSA said, it can point to rising scores in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey’s results-oriented culture index, which rose slightly from 52 percent in fiscal 2015 to 53 percent in 2016. More dramatically, employee understanding of how to earn ratings at different performance levels rose from 68 percent in 2015 to 71 percent last year. Attainment of GSA goals rose from 58 percent in fiscal 2014 to 74 percent in 2015 (no results from 2016 are available).

 “Currently, our Employee Performance Management and Recognition policies are in the final stages of republication,” GSA said, offering a timeline of completion this summer and fall.