Report Suggests Next Administration Make Radical Changes to the Federal Workforce

A new report says that the incoming presidential administration should consider making some radical changes to the federal workforce in order to improve government performance.

A new report from Transitions in Governance 2016 makes some suggested changes that a new presidential administration should make to the federal workforce that some federal employees might see as pretty radical.

In the realm of creating a more engaged federal workforce, the report says federal agencies should expand their use of employee rewards and pay for performance systems. It presents these options:

Employee Performance Evaluation Systems
Attempt again to require every manager (and possibly every employee) be measured in their position based on performance goals.

Non-Financial Reward Systems
As an alternative to or companion to performance evaluation systems for all employees, create a robust employee recognition and reward initiative.

Financial Reward Systems
If  financial rewards are used, the Administration may want to take decisions for those rewards outside of the agency and provide for a third-party validation entity. To buffer criticism that bonuses are being given out at taxpayer expense, consider partnering with foundations in each mission area of government who could pledge funds to reward federal employees.

Reform Promotions
Eliminate Within Grade Increases (WIGI) based on tenure or time and require a performance justification be made by an employee’s supervisor.

Expand the probationary period for federal employees to 3-5 years

The report also says that the current one year probationary period for federal workers is too short. According to the report, “This current policy (which is not enshrined in law and can be administratively changed) encourages a passive approval of employees who later present performance problems.”

Instead, the report says a new administration in the White House should extend the probationary period to 3-5 years and require a pro-active certification by a manager that a probationary employee should be granted permanent status. If the employee were not certified within this timeframe, he or she would be automatically terminated.

Reform or Eliminate the Office of Personnel Management

According to the report:

Wide-spread dissatisfaction exists on the role of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Some suggest reforms be implemented to streamline the agency and focus OPM on value-added roles. Others believe OPM should be abolished with functions assigned to other agencies – and savings used to bolster management assistance to federal agencies on core HR capabilities.

Although the report posits the question as to what should be done with OPM, the answer is never directly addressed.

Create a 401(k) program for new federal employees

The report says that a new presidential administration should consider allowing new federal workers to opt out of the current federal employee benefits package and enroll in a defined contribution 401(k) account because some millennials in the federal workforce have “expressed dissatisfaction with the current one-size-fits-all federal employee benefits package.”

Replace the General Schedule pay system

The report says that the GS system either over or under pays federal workers, so a new Administration should replace it with bands, tiers or BLS locality benchmarks. According to the report, “The BLS Locality Benchmarks offer a solid comparison to each locality’s pay in the private and non-profit sectors – as well as a number of other local compensation data sets.”

The report included some other suggestions as well, such as strengthening whistleblower protections and improving project and program management capabilities of the federal workforce.

According to its website, the goals of Transitions in Governance 2016 are to:

Develop a bold set of ideas to comprise a Management Reform Agenda for the incoming President and Congress to consider that focuses on improving results, transparency, and efficiency of the federal government


Expand the Government Performance Coalition of think tanks, elected officials, and other stakeholders to support the bipartisan implementation of a federal management improvement agenda post 2016

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.