Is There Life (and Morale) After PFP?

Sorry that this is going to run a little long, but the subject is important and the feelings run deep. The bosses may not like what this says but they ought to know what some of their employees are saying about an important cash, and morale issue: PFP – as in pay-for-performance.

PFP seems to be working beautifully in places where it hasn’t actually been implemented. Bosses have high hopes and workers eagerly await it. If you doubt it, ask the bosses’ bosses.

But when it becomes a reality in places like Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and even the Government Accountability Office stuff happens!

Instead of being the as-advertised great leap into the 21st century, PFP is viewed by a growing number of employees as the foreign object in the punchbowl.

Federal agencies have spent pots of money prepping their managers, supervisors and rank-and-file people on the benefits of a new merit system where people will not be rewarded simply for showing up for work. Outside experts have been paid a lot of money as in A L-O-T to train federal workers in the new federal program. More has been spent (some of it then taken back by Congress) on websites and training aides for supervisors and the supervised.

Officials say they have had relatively little negative feedback from employees. This leads me to conclude that I must be getting e-mails and telephone calls that were intended for them. Maybe we could compare notes.

Maybe everybody with a complaint against PFP is a malcontent. Or poor performer. A real loser. But probably not. So in the spirit of “probably not” here are some comments that all came in Wednesday in response to a column about PFP.

Here’s some of what some folks are saying:

Appeal What When?

I’m a DoD employee. Many of us have received our paypool decisions. We were sent the appeal process a week before Christmas (excerpt below). What’s the point of an appeal process when we can’t rebut the things that matter most! DoD says that they haven’t seen much in the way of appeals. Well no wonder! What are we supposed to appeal if we can’t appeal the things that matter to US.

Now that the adjusted pay has been done which is a 60/40 split we have a townhall meeting today to learn how that affects us. Some departments have already had theirs and those that have gone reported that they will receive a few hundred dollars less than what was originally given to us. I really have to wonder how this will affect morale and at the end of the day (if there will be) a mass exit of employees under DoD. Morale is already low because we are sitting here seeing our fellow govt workers in other agencies who do the same work we do (and in many cases DoD workers work harder), not have to endure a very non-transparent process and amounts given to paypools differ from pool to pool (which also makes some of us feel less valued right off the top).

Excerpt from the DoD appeal notice:

Employee can not challenge: performance payout, number of shares, value of shares, distribution of payout; recommended rating of record; an interim review; a closeout assessment; or individual objective rating or adjusted rating if the requested remedy shall not result in the recalculation of the rating of record.

Location, Location, Location!

Another frustrated fed says its not what you do but where you work:

It’s not how hard you work that determines your payout, it’s where you work. Commands which have been heavily funded (especially those dealing directly with the war) have gotten payouts that would pretty much compare to what they would have made if they got their WIGI and their annual performance award. Mine on the other hand, has so little money and has lost billets for all the retirees who fled day one of NSPS, which means we had to pick up their slack and are killing ourselves. I’m making 4K less this first pay period than I would if under the GS system due to my loss of WIGI and what have you. We are expected to get the work done, and if it can’t be done in the 40 hrs, we don’t get paid for OT or get Comp time, but are expected to complete projects/hearings; etc. To make matters worse, I’m making the cost of health care go up because this has been hard on my health, and I now have to see a therapist to deal with the stress of my job. Navy In Norfolk.

Res Judicata?

Finally, a reader/listener wonders why the PFP is an issue the Supreme Court may take up.

Mike – it’s interesting to see that the Supreme Court could be considering this case, even though Congress has told DHS to abandon pay for performance due to its dismal success and lack of any objective rating system with which to apply the pay increases. One DHS agency, upon its creation borrowed the “pay banding” system from FAA. It has amounted to nothing more than a pay cap. The old government non-competitive career track, like an IT specialist who might have been hired elsewhere under a GS-7/9/11/12 path, is now hired in as a 7 or 9, and then could stay there for three or four years (or more) because management says they don’t have the money to pay for promotions, regardless of how well the person is performing. And then, because the pay bands overlap, if someone is in the overlapping pay areas, management has, on some occasions, given a “band increase” (moving someone to the next band) without giving them any pay increase. Where’s the incentive to do better if management doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain and allow actual WIGs or promotions? Stay on this one, it’s only going to get more interesting. Thanks for keeping us informed. Al

The Nearly Useless Factoid

In days gone by, Turkish bridegrooms had to promise that they would always provide their new wives with coffee. If they didn’t, it was (brace for punning speed) grounds for divorce.

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