Issue Briefs

Following is information posted on a DoD personnel site regarding the New Beginnings initiative being phased in for most of its civilian employees, including the impact on performance evaluations and other matters.

What is “New Beginnings?”

“New Beginnings” is a cooperative labor-management effort involving the Department and a broad array of DOD employees and national-level union representatives, to design and implement significant Human Resource practices and policies, including implementation of a new Department-wide Performance Management and Appraisal Program. New Beginnings also encompasses reforms in the areas of Hiring Flexibilities, Training and Development, and Workforce Incentives.

What is New Beginnings trying to achieve?

Through the New Beginnings efforts, the Department is striving to institutionalize a shared culture of high performance through greater employee engagement. New Beginnings will also work to improve capabilities in recruiting, developing, and rewarding our dynamic and effective workforce.

What are the personnel authorities that Congress authorized for DOD?

NDAA 2010 amended section 9902 of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.), to provide the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) authority to:
Promulgate agency rules and regulations, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), providing for—
• A new performance appraisal system that is fair, credible, and transparent; links awards and other performance-based actions to employee performance appraisal; and provides for regular on-going performance feedback throughout the appraisal cycle; development of attractive career paths; and development of employee performance assistance plans;
• Redesigned procedures for use within DOD to make appointments to positions within the competitive service in a way that supports the mission, managers, and applicants;
• Establish, at the Secretary’s discretion, a fund to be known as the DOD Civilian Workforce Incentive Fund to incentivize DOD employees based on team or individual performance, and to attract or retain employees with particular or superior qualifications or abilities.

What progress has been made with the implementation of decisions informed by the New Beginnings Design Teams?

The Department has made significant progress on training for supervisors and managers, as well as on steps to improve the skills and advisory capabilities of its human resource practitioner workforce. To do so, the Department is expanding training opportunities and increasing functional competency through the use of the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Human Resources University (HRU), knowledge transfer programs, and an increased focus on Human Resources (HR) functional training. Additionally, DOD Instruction 1400.25, Volume 410: Training, Education, and Professional Development Plans, has been published, which covers performance assistance at the employee-level through Individual Development Plans. Volume 410 also addresses performance assistance in the aggregate, i.e., through Component-level training, education and professional development plans that will be established in tandem with the Department’s 2016-2021 strategic workforce planning cycle.

Performance Management Program

Does the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program cover the majority of civilians? Who is not covered, and why?

The Defense Performance Management and Appraisal program will cover the majority of the Department’s civilian workforce; however, the Department is currently reviewing authorities granted to cover certain groups of employees under other performance management programs. For example, Senior Executive Service employees, those covered by the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System, and Demonstration Lab employees will not be covered by the new program because their performance programs are developed under separate legal authorities.

Why did the Department decide to implement a three-level appraisal program versus some other system?

A three-level appraisal program was selected to implement across the Department because it:
• Is consistent with the legislative requirement of the NDAA 2010, to provide “[a] fair, credible, and transparent system for linking employee bonuses and other performance-based actions to performance appraisals of employees;
• Promotes a high-performing culture by making meaningful distinctions in performance that will be acknowledged formally in the rating process and will be used to inform other personnel-based decisions, including not only awards and recognition, but also promotions, training, and developmental opportunities; and
• Provides the ability to retain high performing employees to meet the Department’s mission by granting greater service credit for top performers during reductions-in-force.

What are some of the benefits for a Department-wide performance management and appraisal program?

Deploying a Department-wide Performance Management and Appraisal Program across the Components for the vast majority of civilian employees will enable seamless transition of employees throughout the Department during career progression and workforce restructuring. The program will also link organizational mission and goals to individual performance plans, ensure regular feedback during the appraisal cycle between employees and supervisors, and result in increased employee engagement, morale, and effectiveness.

What are the roles of the DOD Labor-Management Roundtable and the Labor-Management Roundtable Implementation Working Group?

The DOD Labor-Management Roundtable engages in pre-decisional involvement (PDI), as well as national consultation rights (NCR) notice and discussion, and is the means by which the national unions provide input and raise concerns for the Department’s consideration prior to finalizing new policy that impacts bargaining unit employees. The Labor-Management Roundtable Implementation Working Group was established by the DOD Roundtable to continue the engagement of the unions in the development and implementation of the personnel authority decisions.

What are the next steps for implementation of the performance appraisal program?

The Department, through continued collaboration with key stakeholders such as the Office of Personnel Management, labor representatives, and Component leadership, will finalize regulations required to implement the requirements of section 9902 of title 5, United States Code, for a “[a] fair, credible, and transparent system for linking employee bonuses and other performance-based actions to performance appraisals of employees.” In addition, the Department is developing the implementation and training plans for the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program.

How will the Department assist and support implementation of the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program?

In support of the implementation of the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program, the Department is developing an implementation plan including a holistic approach to ensure the Department effectively communicates and trains all stakeholders on the mechanics of the new program, and also the associated culture changes that will be required for successful implementation. Additionally, we are planning train-the-trainer events prior to the Department’s phased implementation, to ensure DOD Components are fully prepared to disseminate training and messaging that is consistent across the Department.

How many people will this affect?

The change to the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program will impact the majority of DOD civilian employees across each of the Department’s components to include General Schedule and Federal Wage System employees.

How does the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program change the way the Department recognizes and rewards employees?

Traditionally, employees receive recognition and rewards at the end of the rating cycle. The Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program will emphasize and promote timely recognition and reward of employee contributions throughout the rating cycle. Continuous feedback is key, and no longer just about the “365th day.”

Has the new Performance Management and Appraisal tool been developed?

Significant progress has been made on the DOD Performance Management and Appraisal Program’s automated tool, MyPerformance, which will accompany the new program. In March 2015, Component and labor representatives participated in formal testing of the MyPerformance tool, providing valuable feedback on its content and functionality.

Hiring Flexibilities

How has Strategic Workforce Planning contributed to “New Beginnings?”

The Department is committed to implementing effective means of recruiting, compensating, and incentivizing the workforce in order to shape an effective workforce for today and into the future. The sound use of workforce incentives depends on a foundation that includes strategic planning for the organization and its workforce to ensure that incentives are used effectively to meet recruitment and retention needs. The Department continues to focus on its strategic workforce planning efforts, now fully integrating more than 600 occupations, including crafts and trades occupations, covering approximately 735,000 employees into a Functional Community construct based on similar job and occupational families.

Several Design Team recommendations centered on better educating Hiring Managers. How and when will these be implemented?

On May 28, 2015, the Department launched the “Hiring Manager’s Toolkit,” which serves as a consolidated “one stop shop,” providing access to tip sheets, guides, checklists, and pamphlets to assist hiring managers with the hiring process.

What does the Hiring Manager’s toolkit consist of?

The Hiring Manager’s Toolkit addresses the four key phases of the hiring process: Planning to Hire, Attracting the Candidate, Making Hiring Decisions and Shaping Early Experiences, and promotes collaboration between the hiring manager and Human Resources professionals. The toolkit provides an all-encompassing resource for hiring managers, and is comprised of an online collection of guides, checklists, quick references, pamphlets, and tip sheets for the hiring manager and Human Resources staff. Here are a few examples of the guides included in the toolkit: Guide to Workforce Planning, Job Analysis Guide, Hiring Options Guide, Guide to Veterans Hiring, Interview Guidelines, and the Onboarding Guide.

Who will benefit from utilizing the Hiring Manager’s Toolkit?

Hiring managers, supervisors, team leads, human resources practitioners and employees will benefit from utilizing the Hiring Manager’s Toolkit.

How do employees access the Hiring Manager’s Toolkit?

DOD employees are able to easily access the Hiring Manager’s Toolkit on the DCPAS website using their Common Access Card. The toolkit can be accessed at:
Hiring Manager’s toolkit

Is the Hiring Manager’s toolkit available to the public?

The Hiring Manager’s Toolkit is CAC-enabled, and therefore only accessible to DOD employees with CACs.

This toolkit is great for the time being, but I don’t want to give this to my office if it’s going to be outdated in a year. How is this information going to continue to be relevant?

The DOD Hiring Manager’s Toolkit is a living tool which will have periodic updates.

I am a manager at a DOD Agency, is the information in the Hiring Manager’s Toolkit applicable to my Agency?

Yes. The information within the Hiring Manager’s Toolkit is applicable to managers in all agencies within DOD. For your Component specific guidance/policy contact your HR Professional
Training and Development

Who can take Human Resources (HR) training on OPM’s HRU?

Any DOD employee can register for, and take training on, OPM’s HRU training portal. Much of the HR training available through HRU is free, while some training is available for a fee.

What specific Automation improvements have been implemented to improve the hiring process?

The Department has also incorporated new automated enhancements into the DOD hiring process, successfully implementing the majority of the automation initiatives proposed by the original Design Teams. The Department has now fully migrated to USA Staffing for its hiring processes, with automation improvements now that include additional status notifications to applicants, and improved ways in which applicants can navigate to and view job vacancy announcements. The Department is also making full use of the robust USAJOBS synonym dictionary to assist with keyword searches and a map search capability to assist with location searches, improving the job seeker experience for DOD’s Federal Wage System (FWS) applicants.