First Look at Senior Executive Service Performance Awards/NASA

FPCD-80-85: Published: Sep 19, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 19, 1980.

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Procedural difficulties have been experienced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in administering Senior Executive Service (SES) performance awards. The percentage of executives receiving bonuses or rank nominations is skewed to the top of the NASA organizational hierarchy.

While there was no evidence of abuse of the bonus system, NASA could add credibility and objectivity to its bonus decisions if it had impartial members from outside the agency participate in PRB decisions. NASA delegated the initial decisions for ratings and bonuses to the EPM's. The PRB reviewed the recommendations of the EPM's and accepted them as submitted. This caused NASA ratings and award distribution to vary considerably from one EPM organization to another. Senior executives receiving outstanding ratings in one EPM organization did not receive bonuses, while individuals receiving successful ratings in another EPM organization did. This occurred because NASA officials believe that performance ratings should not be the sole basis for determining eligibility for bonuses.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: NASA should include lower level SES executives as well as impartial outside members to participate in PRB decisions, and also include outside members as participants on special PRB's. NASA should also: (1) keep senior executives aware of factors considered in the decision process for awards; (2) incorporate bonus decision factors into the performance plans; and (3) make bonus decisions consistent with ratings within and between each EPM organization.

    Agency Affected:


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