If you listen to the anti-labor and anti-employee zealots clogging the OPM and FLRA policy making levels, you would think that union proposals to establish Pass-Fail appraisal ratings systems are Satanic-derived plots to destroy the world. So, we found it interesting that the folks in the MSPB Policy and Evaluation shop, who make decisions based on actual research rather than what will sound good on FOX new publicly disagreed with OPM and FLRA’s political operatives. 

James Read, MSPB’s Director of Policy and Evaluation, wrote an article for the recent edition of MSPB’s Issues of Merit. He began by questioning the wisdom of the current five-level appraisal rating system considering the “time, resources, and effort” that go into the current performance appraisal process.  He is obviously referring to (1) all the work supervisors have to do to draft and justify multi-level appraisals, (2) the inevitable grievances, not to mention demoralizing  resentment and bad blood, they create, (3) the EEO liabilities such a system breeds from disparate treatment as well as impact claims impact, and (4) how they complicate other performance management decisions like promotions, award determinations, and RIFs.

The best part of his piece, however, was his comment on what should be done instead of mandated five-level evaluation systems.  Here is what he wrote.

…agencies need to choose the number of appraisal levels that work for their organization. In the spirit of simplicity, a 2- or 3-level system would probably meet the needs of most organizations. In 2-level systems, where employees are either performing unsuccessfully or successfully, employees and supervisors can focus on constructive discussions about performance instead of how the performance translates into a summary or annual “grade.” Adding a third level gives employers the opportunity to acknowledge the superstars in the organization.

Of course, there is no chance OPM, OMB, FLRA or the White House will listen to Director Read. His views will be filed right next to their beliefs on climate change, carbon emissions, and the truly crazy people who refused to believe that windmills cause cancer.

But hopefully, the unions will keep pushing for more pass-fail systems, and perhaps one day they will get before a panel of federal judges with whom they can share Read’s data-heavy conclusion to demonstrate that the number of performance levels used should be negotiable.

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
This entry was posted in Bargaining Negotiability, Performance and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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