Pay-for-Performance, Performance Appraisal and the New DoD HR System

Comtroller General David Walker answers post-hearing questions regarding his Congressional testimony on proposed changes to the DoD human resources system.

In a recent survey, one of the topics that generated the most comments from readers concerned pay-for-performance and the performance appraisal system.

Many readers expressed concern in the survey about the fairness of a pay-for-performance system. A number of readers commented that a good pay-for-performance system would require a good performance appraisal system.

In addition to our readers, it seems the Comptroller General of the U.S., David Walker, also has some of these same concerns. He recently testified on the subject of changes to the human resources system in the Department of Defense.

Subsequent to the hearing, he was asked questions by committee members. He recently answered those questions and the questions and his response are available to our readers from the link on the left hand side of this page.

From the response we received to our recent survey, one question in particular will interest readers. The question reads, in part:

“You have observed that the Department (of Defense) does not have a credible and verifiable performance management system. S. 1166 seeks to address that concern by establishing criteria for a performance management system. Please comment on that portion of the bill.”

The Comptroller General notes that a successful performance appraisal system must be linked to overall agency goals and success in achieving those goals.

Also, Walker says a successful performance appraisal system must include:

–meaningful distinctions in individual employee performance;

–employee involvement in the design and implementation of the system;

–and accountability measures, including independent reasonableness reviews, internal grievance procedures, internal assessments, and employee surveys.

Those agency human resources people who were around when the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 was first implemented may want to dig out your notes about designing a performance appraisal system. You may be about to go through the process again in your agency.

In the comments from Mr. Walker’s testimony and the general trend in Congress now, all agencies can look forward to significant changes in the human resources system. Significant changes have already occurred in the Department of Homeland Security and the Securities and Exchange Commission, changes are getting close to approval for the Department of Defense and it is unlikely that the other agencies will remain unchanged.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47