First Look at Senior Executive Service Performance Awards/SBA

FPCD-80-86: Published: Sep 19, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 19, 1980.

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GAO reviewed the Senior Executive Service (SES) bonus payments at the Small Business Administration (SBA).

GAO concluded that the performance awards were within the requirements of the Civil Service Reform Act, as well as Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance. SBA paid bonuses for performance in the first 6 months of fiscal year 1980. SBA planned to again pay bonuses for the second half of fiscal year 1980 performance, in the fall of 1980 with fiscal year 1981 money. Although the plan is within the legal limits of the Reform Act, it allows SBA to pay bonuses to a higher percentage of its executives than other agencies for the same fiscal year 1980 performance period. SBA will need to be careful about the manner in which it pays bonuses in the fall to avoid perceived misuse of the 25-percent limit set by Federal law. GAO recommended that SBA work closely with OPM to determine an equitable plan for paying bonuses for the remaining fiscal year 1980 performance. All eligible members of the SBA Performance Review Board (PRB) were awarded bonuses, and some were also nominated for distinguished executive and meritorious executive ranks. GAO believes that SBA could add credibility and objectivity to its SES award decisions if the PRB included an impartial member or members from outside the agency to participate in PRB decisions. The SBA performance appraisal process does not include a requirement for a central review of executives' performance standards early in the performance cycle. GAO recommended that a central review of executives' performance plans at the beginning of the rating period be made a requirement of the SBA performance process.

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