Obama's pay-for-performance plan


New Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry’s announcement last week that the Obama administration wants all federal employees to be paid based on how well they perform doesn’t exactly have federal unions doing cartwheels. The American Federation of Government Employees said pay for performance can’t work in the government, and said that the General Schedule is enough to reward hard workers. The National Treasury Employees Union, on the other hand, said it would wait and see what Berry comes up with.

And the National Federation of Federal Employees just weighed in on the issue this morning. Though President Rick Brown said he felt better about the issue after talking with Berry last Friday and praised his “good-faith” approach to reform, he also had a warning: Don’t simply warm over leftover proposals from the Bush administration.

Director Berry assured me that this is not an attempt to repackage what we feel are ill-conceived Bush-era pay schemes. . . . [W]e do not expect to see proposals that even closely resemble the so-called pay for performance plans put forward under the previous administration. Everyone agrees that more needs to be done to reward high performers, and we are eager to explore these ideas with the administration.

What do you think? Can pay for performance work in a federal office? Why, or why not? What have your experiences been with such systems?


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  1. As an NSPS supervisor, our PFP does not work. Our objectives are supposed to be SMART. Measurable, attainable, relevent, and timely. Our group of supervisor sat down and tried to write objectives and even though we came up with some based on national standards for our group, in reality they are not often met because of the complexity of projects. Therefore, the objectives become arbitrary and the evaluation is subjective. In DOD, we had the TAPES evaluation sysytem. It was like a contract between employer and employee. The only part that needed fixing was the criteria as to how the employee would be rated. It was too loose and everyone got a high rating. Under the GS sysytem the supervisors were not willing to truly evaluate their employees so when it came time for a step increase it became automatic. The GS system was not busted just needed to be enforced by the chain of command. NSPS is much worse as it is purely subjective. If we worked in a factory and made widgets we could be fairly graded if we exceeded our objectives or not. PFP under the current systytem does not work.

  2. Par for the course, let us not take care of good, reliable workers, lets pay bonuses for the “ONE TRICK PONIES” If you ask many TSA workers they would tell you they would prefer to work with a good solid worker that performs day after day, month after month, and year after year instead of the person that performs one day a year, test time. We spend to much of the DHS/TSA budget training workers only to have them quit or go to another job due to stress of the job daily, complicated by the constant testing, and the fear of loosing your job at a turn of a hat. Try making it a place people want to work and your quality of workers just may improve, as well as their reliability. Any person that thinks this is a good idea should talk to the workers having to deal with this year after year. It has not worked and will not work….

  3. ErieLackawannaGalNJ on

    Let’s not forget those officials who were hand picked to be on the Tiger Team. They worked long hours and I want them to receive the credit and accolades they truly deserve. Many of these employees had to put their private lives on hold or “back burner” and unfortunately, some of them suffered in the long run with respect to their personal lives.
    I’m very proud of the work and accomplishments the Tiger Team made. Who were they? How about listing them and a brief synopsis of their individual accomplishments during their own careers with the fra.dot.gov.
    thank you,

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