Performance Management Systems:

IRS's Systems for Frontline Employees and Managers Align with Strategic Goals but Improvements Can Be Made

GAO-02-804: Published: Jul 12, 2002. Publicly Released: Aug 12, 2002.

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) established critical job responsibilities for group managers and frontline employees that align with each of the agency's three strategic goals. In the group managers' performance management system, all of the supporting behaviors clearly align with the critical job responsibilities. However, for frontline employees, the supporting behaviors do not always align with IRS's description of the critical job responsibilities. Misalignments occur when (1) supporting behaviors reflect concerns not expressed in the description, (2) supporting behaviors that relate to a responsibility are located under other responsibilities, or (3) no supporting behavior exists to support the description. Raters provided feedback on the three critical job responsibilities related to IRS's organizational goals in 90 percent or more of evaluations and provided feedback on leadership and equal employment opportunity in 70 percent of the evaluations. IRS senior executives have no firm plans to monitor how well the group managers' and frontline employees' systems are being implemented or to assess whether changes need to be made, even though IRS's management processes call for obtaining data on how well programs are achieving their goals.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In 2003, the IRS formed a Performance Enhancement Work Group to assess, among other things, the alignment between critical job responsibilities and supporting behaviors and the linkage between critical job responsibilities and unit performance measures. The Performance Enhancement Work Group concluded that there were issues in this area and recommended further analysis. However, the IRS has not yet followed up on this recommendation, primarily because NTEU indicated it wanted to negotiate any changes to the critical job responsibilities. IRS officials do not believe they will pursue the Performance Enhancement Work Group's recommendation in the future because of NTEU's position.

    Recommendation: To better hold managers accountable for meeting strategic goals and ensure the new performance management systems are working as intended, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should improve the linkage between frontline employees' critical job responsibilities, the supporting behaviors, and organizational unit performance measures.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: At the time of GAO's review, the IRS had established Performance Review Boards that reviewed the performance evaluations of executives and senior managers to ensure that their evaluations were aligned with and reflected the IRS's organizational strategic goals, its annual business plans, and organizational performance measures. The IRS expanded Performance Review Boards to all front-line managers (approximately 7,000 additional managers) in September 2005. Each of IRS's Operating Divisions is expected to establish baselines, identify trends, resolve evident anomalies, and ensure evaluations reflect achievement of agency goals.

    Recommendation: To better hold managers accountable for meeting strategic goals and ensure the new performance management systems are working as intended, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop plans for monitoring and assessing whether the new employee performance management systems are operating as intended and take the necessary actions to resolve any identified problems.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

 

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