A new document on strategies for carrying out the recently announced President’s Management Agenda expands on themes the Trump administration previously has sounded to emphasize both the carrot and stick aspects of federal workplace policies on employee performance.
The document sets a series of shorter-term and longer-term goals in those areas as well as on general management initiatives including improvements to the hiring process, attention to low-performing federal functions, and boosting employee engagement in their work.
It says the administration aims to: “provide support to managers, equipping them to manage effectively; streamline performance management and dismissal procedures; increase the link between pay and performance, and regularly reward high performers; strengthen organizational management practices and accountability for employee engagement; and focus intense employee engagement improvement efforts on the lowest-performing organizations, to reduce mission risk.”
On the rewards side, by the end of the current fiscal year in September, OPM and agencies are to “identify leading practices for use of incentives (e.g., awards, 3Rs, skills incentives and others, as appropriate) to reward employees and recruit and retain top talent.”
However, it does not provide details on the administration’s proposed $1 billion fund to reward top performers—nor its proposal to stretch out waiting periods for within-grade raises by one year each, and to provide no general federal raise in January, as a tradeoff.
On the penalties side, OPM and agencies meanwhile are to “identify the most promising policies and procedures to address poor performance” and “update polices to remove non-statutory steps from the discipline process and ensure consistency throughout the agency.” Agencies also are to ensure that managers are “appropriately trained on performance management and are provided with support to address performance and conduct issues.” OPM and GSA are to “pilot the use of a parachute team to assist agencies in performance management issues.”
It further calls on agencies to complete organizational assessments on low-performing units and identify their bottom 20 percent units in terms of employee engagement as measured by the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and target a 20 percent improvement over the next two years.
Also reflecting a view the administration previously stated in several ways, the document says that “Parts of today’s personnel system are a relic of an earlier era that ill-serves federal managers and employees. The federal personnel system is unduly complex leading to a focus on compliance and transaction management rather than results and customer service.” However, like the prior documents the latest one does not lay out a specific agenda for replacing those laws.