An Assessment of SES Performance Appraisal Systems

GGD-84-16: Published: May 16, 1984. Publicly Released: May 16, 1984.

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GAO reviewed Senior Executive Service (SES) performance appraisal systems at various federal agencies to determine the extent to which such systems are meeting the requirements of the Civil Service Reform Act. GAO sent questionnaires to SES personnel and reviewed individual SES performance plans and appraisals.

GAO found that most agencies have implemented SES performance appraisal systems that meet the requirements of the act, but some systems need refinements to more fully meet the objectives of the act. GAO believes that this is not unusual because agencies had less than 1 year after the enactment of the act to implement appraisal systems. GAO found that: (1) less than 30 percent of the performance plans reviewed contained qualitative performance standards and less than 60 percent contained quantitative standards; (2) performance requirements were not always established before the beginning of each rating period; and (3) many performance plans had not been updated in response to changes in job responsibilities. In addition, GAO found that: (1) 71 percent of the executives sampled believed that their performance plans met the act's objectives; (2) at least 57 percent of those surveyed believed that their agency's SES performance appraisal system had no effect on performance and was not worth its cost; and (3) none of the agencies surveyed had established a system to evaluate its SES performance appraisal system.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should issue minimum standards and requirements for all evaluation systems implemented by agencies.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should provide guidelines to agencies on how to establish and implement effective evaluation procedures.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should require agencies to establish and implement procedures for the comprehensive evaluation and monitoring of their SES performance appraisal systems.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should focus OPM guidance and oversight activities on improving agencies' SES performance appraisal systems by requiring that agencies update performance requirements when executives' responsibilities change.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should focus OPM guidance and oversight activities on improving agencies' SES performance appraisal systems by determining the problems that agencies have in complying with the act's requirements for preparing performance plans on or before the beginning of the rating period and, if necessary, propose legislative changes.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should focus OPM guidance and oversight activities on improving agencies' SES performance appraisal systems by ensuring that agencies establish performance requirements for all senior executives, including noncareerists.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should focus OPM guidance and oversight efforts on improving agencies' SES performance systems by providing agencies with technical guidance and assistance in developing performance standards that more specifically define expected results and that address the act's performance appraisal criteria and improvement goals when they are relevant to the position.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) should focus OPM guidance and oversight activities on improving agencies' SES performance appraisal systems by reviewing agency efforts to improve SES performance appraisal system quality and effectiveness in meeting the act's objectives for permitting accurate evaluations of performance, providing systematic appraisals of performance, encouraging excellence in performance, and providing a basis for making eligibility determinations for retentions and performance awards.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should follow up with agencies to ensure proper and effective implementation of evaluation systems.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

 

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