Federal Employee Performance Rating Systems Need Fundamental Changes

FPCD-77-80: Published: Mar 3, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 1978.

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The Performance Rating Act of 1950 requires performance evaluations and ratings through use of one or more performance rating plans subject to approval of the Civil Service Commission (CSC). It requires that each system provide for making performance requirements known to the employee, giving fair appraisals of employee performance, using appraisals to improve employee performance, strengthening supervisor-employee relationships, and keeping employees advised of their performance and promptly notified of ratings.

Summary performance ratings--outstanding, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory--have become essentially a single rating system of satisfactory. Such ratings do not adequately inform employees about their performance or provide management with a basis for personnel decisions. Also, because of court decisions, unsatisfactory ratings may not be used as a basis for dismissal of employees. Most of the 10 performance rating systems in Federal agencies which were reviewed do not meet objectives of the legislation. Inadequacies of the systems are: graphic rating scale methods do not provide useful performance data, most procedures have not provided adequate guidance for rating employees, and there is insufficient linkage between performance and rewards. In private systems examined, there was better guidance for supervisors, and there were different systems for various occupational groups. A potential for improvement was seen in collaborative systems in which the employee participates.

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