Federal Manager's Daily Report

In a study of personnel practices at the Securities and Exchange Commission that included a survey of employees there, the GAO has found issues similar to those raised in the annual government-wide Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey regarding performance management.

While 81 percent of nonexecutive employees agreed that their direct supervisors had the skills and expertise to be effective, “more than one-third of employees expressed concerns in areas such as performance management and favoritism. For example, 48 percent of nonexecutives disagreed that the performance management system in place at the time of GAO’s review created meaningful distinctions in performance,” a report said.

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It said the SEC has not yet implemented recommendations GAO made in 2013 to obtain staff input and agreement on the competencies, rating procedures, and other key aspects of the performance management system. “SEC plans to implement a new system in 2020, and validating this system would help ensure that it achieves its goals and identify changes needed to address employee dissatisfaction with performance management,” it said.

One aspect of that system will be a bonus program through which supervisors can nominate high-performing employees for a bonus of up to $10,000 once per fiscal year, it added, but the SEC “has not yet developed mechanisms for transparency and fairness” for the program such as including multiple levels of review and publishing aggregate data on award decisions.

GAO meanwhile credited the agency for workforce management initiatives including conducting a comprehensive analysis to identify skills gaps in its workforce, strengthening the input during the budget process from individual divisions and offices on workforce needs and priorities, and enhancing collaboration across divisions and offices.

Federal Manager’s Handbook, 5th Ed.