OPM orders bigger bonuses for better ratings

Proposed regulation marks another step toward governmentwide pay for performance.

A year after the Bush administration first floated a legislative proposal to implement a pay-for-performance system in every federal agency, the president's personnel advisers are continuing to take steps toward such a system, despite failing so far to win congressional support for the comprehensive package.

A new draft regulation published by the Office of Personnel Management in the Federal Register Wednesday will require agencies to tie cash awards directly to performance ratings.

Bonuses, already by their nature doled out to employees based on performance, will now be allocated so that employees with higher performance ratings must receive more money than lower rated peers.

"These revisions clarify the use of performance-based cash awards by providing that such awards programs, as designed and applied, must make meaningful distinctions based on levels of performance," the regulation said. "This proposed change is designed to ensure that better performers receive greater recognition."

OPM officials said, in companion notes to the regulation, they realize many agencies already follow this procedure in granting bonuses, but the principle of more sophisticated merit-based awards is important enough to warrant a regulation.

The regulation also clarifies that all employees receiving cash awards must be rated at least at the "fully successful" level. The changes do not affect the Senior Executive Service, which is governed by its own performance management system in which all pay raises are tied to performance evaluations.

Thomas Richards, director of government affairs for the Federal Managers Association, said the regulation would not work in many agencies still operating on a pass-fail performance review system.

"How do you tier performance bonuses when you have a performance appraisal and review system, when it is based on a two-tiered model?" Richards asked. "Short of actually enacting legislation, I'm not sure how you would do that."

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said she wants to retain the ability to negotiate awards programs with the individual agencies.

"We do have concerns about any system that might discourage teamwork and about whether managers have the training, time and ability to fairly evaluate employees," Kelley said. "It appears to us, based on our initial reading of the proposal, that there is great potential for the disparate treatment of similarly situated employees as well as an adverse impact on certain groups of employees."

Last July, OPM, along with the Office of Management and Budget, publicized the Working for America Act, draft legislation that would require money now used for within-grade step increases and, to some extent, annual across-the-board raises, to be tied to a beefed-up performance rating system.

The Defense and Homeland Security departments, which together employ about half of the total federal civilian workforce, already received congressional authority to implement similar pay-for-performance systems. But the systems have been delayed by union-initiated lawsuits and internal challenges in designing them. Some members of Congress have said they want to wait until Defense and DHS implement their systems before extending any part of them to the domestic agencies.

But momentum for governmentwide personnel reform has not stopped completely. In addition to this bonus regulation, the administration also recently required every agency to begin small test-runs for new performance management systems.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, introduced a bill last month that would require enhanced evaluation systems and training for federal managers, but would not tie pay raises to those ratings yet. (Voinovich's proposal, however, would tie bonuses to ratings.) Administration officials embraced Voinovich's bill as a first step on the road to Working for America Act-like legislation.

This week's regulation has only a 30-day comment period, until July 21, instead of the traditional 60-day period. OPM said that was to ensure the final regulation is in effect in time for bonus season.

Those interested in providing input can send comments to Jerome Mikowicz, OPM's acting deputy associate director for pay and performance policy, at pay-performance-policy@opm.gov.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.