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Highlights

Key practices of effective performance management for the Senior Executive Service (SES) include the linkage or "line of sight" between individual performance and organizational success, the importance of linking pay to individual and organizational performance, and the need to make meaningful distinctions in performance. GAO identified certain principles for executive pay plans that should be considered to attract and retain the quality and quantity of executive leadership necessary to address 21st century challenges, including that they be sensitive to hiring and retention trends; reflect knowledge, skills, and contributions; and be competitive. This testimony focuses on the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) process for awarding bonuses to SES members, the amount and percentage of bonuses awarded for fiscal years 2004 through 2006 based on data reported by VA, and the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) roles in certifying federal agencies SES performance appraisal systems. GAO analyzed VA's policies and procedures for awarding bonuses and data provided by VA on the amount and percentages of bonuses and interviewed knowledgeable VA officials. Information on OPM's and OMB's certification process was based on our 2007 report on OPM's capacity to lead and implement reform

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