The SSA improperly paid within-grade raises to some employees who were on a performance improvement plan, with one receiving those increases two years in a row and another being promoted during that period, according to an IG report.

It found those so-called step increases had been paid in fiscal 2011-2016 to 32 of the 497 employees who were working on such plans, which give under-performing employees an opportunity to improve before disciplinary action on performance grounds is taken.

As is common among agencies, SSA requires that employees must be in good standing and be rated as performing successfully to be eligible for a step increase or promotion, but considers employees on a performance improvement plan–called an opportunity to perform successfully plan there–to be performing at the not successful level.

SSA said that “multiple systems involved in the performance assistance process did not interface” and agreed to recover the overpayments from the employees, ensure that OPS plan data are recorded in its workload management system and require that all management and hiring officials review personnel and payroll system data before they process personnel actions.