Barring a last-minute delay, DoD will begin on Friday (April 1) a new performance evaluation system intended to eventually cover the large majority of its civilian employee workforce. The Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program, part of a larger personnel initiative called New Beginnings, will be used in determining awards, pay and promotion of affected employees–as well as disciplinary actions including reassignment, reduction in grade or removal. The first phase will apply to some 14,000 employees, only about 2 percent of the DoD workforce, mostly in headquarters functions and in relatively small entities outside the military services. However, it is to be extended department-wide over the next several years. It features three ratings levels, corresponding to level 5 (outstanding), level 3 (fully successful), and level 1 (unacceptable) of a standard five-level system. It provides for: direct involvement of employees in crafting performance standards, which will have to clearly document how performance will be measured according to specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and timely criteria; at least three performance review discussions between the supervisor and employee within each cycle; early warnings if a supervisor believes performance is falling below the fully successful level; steps to take to attempt to improve performance before taking disciplinary action; and the right of employees to write self-assessments that a supervisor would have to consider in setting a rating. The AFGE union recently asked the Pentagon to delay the start since those represented by unions in the first phase–about a fifth, most of them represented by AFGE–will not come under the system until bargaining is finished, potentially several months. The union argued that such a staggered start could undercut the program. The Pentagon so far has not indicated any intent to delay.