oversight

Performance Management: How Well Is the Government Dealing With Poor Performers?

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-10-02.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

    How Well Is the
    Government Dealing
    With Poor Performers?

Y
General   Government   Division

B-236639

October 2, 1990

The Honorable Ted Stevens
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Federal Services,
  Post Office, and Civil Service
Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

Dear Senator Stevens:

In response to your request, this report discusses how the federal government identifies and
deals with employees whose performance has been judged as less than fully successful (i.e.,
poor performers). The report contains our views on how the management of the process for
handling such individuals could be improved. It also presents options for congressional
consideration aimed at easing the difficulties supervisors face when dealing with certain
employees who have been poor performers for lengthy periods.

Copies of this report are being sent to other appropriate congressional committees, the
Director of the Office of Personnel Management, agency personnel directors, and other
interested organizations. Major contributors to the report are listed in appendix XI.

Sincerely yours,




Bernard L. Ungar
Director, Federal Human Resource
  Management Issues
Executive Summary


                   For years, the common public perception has been that the federal gov-
Purpose            ernment does little to deal with poor performers, To what extent are
                   federal supervisors identifying poor performers? Are supervisors who
                   do identify poor performers able to deal with them?

                   These are two key questions that GAO sought to answer in this review.
                   This report, a follow-on to an earlier effort in the Social Security Admin-
                   istration, provides a governmentwide perspective.’

                   The work was requested by the Subcommittee on Federal Services, Post
                   Office, and Civil Service, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.


                   To comply with the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, federal agencies
Background         implemented performance management systems that require supervi-
                   sors to establish performance plans specifying employee job tasks and
                   performance expectations; monitor, evaluate, and discuss actual per-
                   formance in relation to established standards; and prepare a written
                   performance appraisal categorizing the employee’s overall performance
                   for the rating period.

                   Employees whose work is below fully successful are considered to be
                   poor performers. The agencies’ process for dealing with these employees
                   is to provide assistance so that they can improve their performance to
                   the fully successful level. However, if improvement does not occur,
                   supervisors are expected to propose actions against these employees.
                   These actions can include reassignment, demotion, or removal.

                   To obtain the information for this report, GAO visited 2 locations within
                   each of 10 federal agencies, 3 state governments, 3 local governments,
                   and 12 private corporations. It also sent questionnaires to a govern-
                   mentwide random sample of 650 supervisors to obtain their experiences
                   in identifying and dealing with poor performers during fiscal year 1988.
                   GAO did not evaluate the appeals process.



                   Contrary to general perceptions, supervisors were generally willing to
Results in Brief   deal with their poor performers and expressed a willingness to deal with
                   them in the future. Although implementing the process was considered
                   unduly difficult and time-consuming, supervisors were generally able to

                   ‘Poor Performers: How They Are Identified and Dealt With in the Social Security Administration
                   (GAO/GGD-89-28, Jan. 27,1989).



                   Page 2                                                 GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
Executive   Summary




correct or otherwise deal with the performance problems they identi-
fied. Actions were generally taken to deal with employees whose per-
formance remained unacceptable.

Many supervisors indicated that they found it especially difficult to deal
with employees from the estimated 5 percent of their work force who
were performing at the level between fully successful and unacceptable
(minimally successful). Because supervisors are limited by law in the
actions they can take to deal with certain individuals who continue to
perform at this level, the government has had to tolerate less than fully
successful performance for extended periods of time.

About half of the supervisors said they had experienced difficulty in
implementing the process for dealing with poor performers. These
supervisors cited the significant amount of calendar time that can be
involved, a perceived lack of management support, difficulties in using
performance standards, a perceived lack of authority to propose per-
formance actions, and a reluctance to go through appeal or arbitration.
In spite of such problems, most supervisors expressed a willingness to
work with poor performers in the future.

Because identifying and dealing with poor performers involves subjec-
tivity, the current legislative and regulatory framework for dealing with
federal employees places heavy emphasis on protecting employees
against unfair or arbitrary treatment. Although these safeguards have
resulted in a process for dealing with poor performers that may never
be perceived as “quick and easy” by supervisors, there does appear to
be some potential for making it less difficult.

Individual motivation is a key factor in dealing with poor performers.
Therefore, agency management must focus on creating an environment
within which supervisors are encouraged and motivated to identify poor
performers and are properly trained and supported when they attempt
to deal with them. GAOalso believes Congress should consider various
options, such as those described in this report, to ease the difficulties
supervisors encounter when dealing with performance at the minimally
successful level for extended periods of time.




Page 8                                   GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                            Executive Summary




Principal Findings

Supervisors Have Been       According to the questionnaire responses GAOreceived, about 5.7 per-
Able to Deal With Many of   cent of the estimated 1.6 million employees supervised by the respon-
                            dents performed below the fully successful level in fiscal year 1988.
the Poor Performers They    About 62 percent of the employees who were identified in the responses
Identified                  as poor performers either improved their performance to fully suc-
                            cessful, voluntarily agreed to vacate their positions, or had performance
                            actions such as demotion or removal proposed against them. The
                            remaining 38 percent were still poor performers at the time GAOcom-
                            pleted its work. GAO'Sanalysis at the 20 locations it visited showed sim-
                            ilar results.

                            The federal government’s process for dealing with poor performers is
                            similar in several respects to the process used by the state and local gov-
                            ernments and private corporations GAOvisited. One major difference is
                            that in many of the nonfederal agencies, employees whose performance
                            remains at the minimally successful level are subject to demotion or
                            removal. At the federal level some employees are subject to demotion or
                            removal for prolonged minimally successful performance, but others,
                            such as General Schedule and Wage Grade employees, are not.

                            Seven of the eight private corporations and two of the four state or local
                            governments GAOvisited that had a minimally successful rating category
                            said their supervisory options for dealing with these employees included
                            demotion or removal.

                            Federal legislation governing General Schedule and Wage Grade
                            employees authorizes demotion or removal only for unacceptable per-
                            formance. Therefore, supervisory options for dealing with minimally
                            successful performers from these employee groups are limited to reas-
                            signment or denial of within-grade pay increases.

                            The options of reassignment and denial of within grade pay increases
                            provide little leverage for federal supervisors and little incentive for
                            employees to improve poor performance, especially since employees
                            near the top of their grade are due such increases only once every 2 or 3
                            years, Thus, the minimally successful performance can last for extended
                            time frames. For example, about 83 percent of the poor performers iden-
                            tified by supervisors were considered to have been minimally successful,
                            and about 27 percent were minimally successful for 12 months or more.


                            Page 4                                   GAO/GGDBl-7 Perionnance Management
                            ExecutiveSummary




The Processfor              GAO  found that many of the supervisors who identified poor performers
Identifying and Dealing     needed to work with them for long periods of time. In the cases GAO
                            analyzed where employees improved to fully successful, supervisors
With Poor Performers Can    had worked with the employees for periods of time ranging from less
Be Difficult to Implement   than a month to 44 months. The average period of time was 10 months.
                            About 60 percent of the employees who were still poor performers at
                            the time of GAO'S review had been receiving assistance from 9 to 18
                            months.

                            About 10 percent of the supervisors who responded to GAO'S question-
                            naire said they would be unlikely to propose a performance action
                            against a poor performer in the future. The two most frequently cited
                            reasons for this were the time involved and a perception that they did
                            not have management support. About one-third of the 10 percent cited
                            the difficulty in using performance standards to measure performance
                            and a reluctance to go through the appeal or arbitration processes.

                            Although no one specific problem in dealing with poor performers was
                            cited by more than 22 percent of the supervisors, 51 percent of the
                            supervisors identified some type of problem. This indicates that dealing
                            with poor performers can often be difficult.


A Greater Management        To make it easier for supervisors to identify and deal with poor per-
Commitment Would            formers, top management needs to be committed to, and actively
                            involved in, creating an environment in which managers and supervi-
Enhance Efforts to Deal     sors are encouraged to undertake this important task and are supported
With Poor Performers        throughout the process.

                            GAO   believes that agencies could better demonstrate that commitment
                            and provide a more positive environment for supervisors in several
                            ways. They could begin by improving their oversight of the process for
                            identifying and dealing with poor performers. At 16 of the 20 locations
                            GAO visited, personnel officials said they did not receive or maintain sta-
                            tistics on how poor performance cases were being resolved or how long
                            it took to deal with performance problems. Without such information, it
                            is difficult to identify problem areas, hold supervisors accountable, or
                            become aware of situations where supervisors may need assistance.

                            Agencies could also improve supervisory training and ensure that super-
                            visors receive a greater degree of technical assistance from agency per-
                            sonnel offices. Of the supervisors responding to GAO'S questionnaire, 15
                            to 29 percent said they had not received training in such areas as the


                            Page 6                                    GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                          Executivesummary




                          use of performance standards or assisting poor performers. GAO found
                          that supervisors who either received no training or considered it to be
                          inadequate were more negative than others in their views on dealing
                          with poor performers.


                               recommends that the Director of OPM stress the need for a greater
Recommendationsto         GAO
                          commitment and active involvement from top management in identi-
the Director of OPM       fying and dealing with poor performers.

                          GAO  also recommends that   OPM   assist federal agencies in demonstrating
                          this commitment by

                      9 ensuring that all agencies provide periodic training and the necessary
                        technical assistance to prepare managers and supervisors to deal ade-
                        quately with poor performers; and
                      l requiring agencies to establish methods and procedures for overseeing
                        how well poor performers are being identified and dealt with, including
                        ensuring that the time spent in implementing the process is not more
                        than warranted.


                          Congress should also consider ways to ease the difficulties supervisors
Matters for               encounter when dealing with General Schedule and Wage Grade
Congressional             employees whose performance remains at the minimally successful level
Consideration             after being given a reasonable opportunity to improve. GAO identified
                          four options for congressional consideration ranging from administra-
                          tive to legislative action. (See p. 27.)


                          OPM  agreed with GAO'S recommendations and indicated that it would
Agency Comments           prefer implementing GAO'S suggested options for dealing with minimally
                          successful performers through legislation that would more closely link
                          pay with performance and provide agencies with the authority to act
                          against any employee performing below the fully successful level after
                          being given a reasonable opportunity to improve. (See app. I.)

                          The three federal employee unions commenting on GAO'S report gener-
                          ally agreed with the information it presented. However, two of the three
                          disagreed with some of GAO'S views on minimally successful performers.
                          (See pp. 46,82,84, and 86.)




                          P8ge6                                       GAO&dGlNU-7PerfomwnceManagement
Page 7   GAO/GGD-fM   Perfomumce MaMigement
Contents


Executive Summary                                                                                 2

Chapter 1                                                                                        12
Introduction             Agencies Use Performance Management Systems to
                             Assess the Performance of Their Employees
                                                                                                 12

                         An Objective of Agencies’ Performance Management                        14
                             Systems Is to Identify and Deal With Poor
                             Performers
                         Objective, Scope, and Methodology                                       15

Chapter 2                                                                                        18
Supervisors Have         Most Supervisors Are Not Ignoring Performance-Related
                              Problems
                                                                                                 19
Been Able to Deal        Supervisory Options for Dealing With GS and WG                          22
With Many of the Poor         Minimally Successful Performers Are Limited
                         State and Local Government and Private Corporation                      26
Performers They               Supervisors Have More Options for Dealing With
Identified                    Minimally Successful Performers
                         Conclusions                                                             27
                         Matters for Congressional Consideration                                 29
                         Agency Comments                                                         29

Chapter 3                                                                                        31
The Processfor           Not All Supervisors Are Identifying Poor Performers
                         Supervisors Believed That Dealing With Poor Performers
                                                                                                 31
                                                                                                 32
Identifying and              Took Too Much of Their Time
Dealing With Poor        Supervisors Have Difficulty Using Standards to Measure                  33
Performers Can Be            Performance
                         Supervisors Perceive a Lack of Authority to Propose                     34
Difficult to Implement       Performance Actions
                         Supervisors Perceive a Lack of Management Support                       35
                         Supervisors Are Reluctant to Go Through the Appeal and                  37
                             Arbitration Process
                         Conclusions                                                             37




                         Page 8                                 GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
-
                       Cimtanta




Chapter 4                                                                                      39
Management             Supervisors Need Training and Technical Assistance
                       Additional Managerial Oversight Needs to Be Provided
                                                                                               39
                                                                                               41
Commitment Is          Conclusions                                                             42
Neededto Enhance       Recommendations to the Director of OPM                                  44
Efforts to Deal With   Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                      45
Poor Performers
Appendixes             Appendix I: Comments From the Office of Personnel                       48
                           Management
                       Appendix II: Locations Visited During Our Review                        60
                       Appendix III: Federal Agencies Represented in Our                       61
                           Questionnaire
                       Appendix IV: Questionnaire Used in Our Review                           62
                       Appendix V: Time Supervisors Spent Assisting Poor                       74
                           Performers
                       Appendix VI: Questionnaire Objective, Scope, and                        75
                           Methodology
                       Appendix VII: Comments From the National Federation of                  82
                           Federal Employees
                       Appendix VIII: Comments From the American Federation                    84
                           of Government Employees, AFL-CIO
                       Appendix IX: Comments From the National Treasury                        85
                           Employees Union
                       Appendix X: Consultant Panel                                            87
                       Appendix XI: Major Contributors to This Report                          88

Tables                 Table 2.1: Status of Employees Who Were Identified as                   20
                           Poor Performers
                       Table 2.2: Results of Proposed Demotions and Removals                   20
                       Table 2.3: Number of Months Employees Were Minimally                    24
                           Successful Performers
                       Table 2.4: Opportunity Periods of State and Local                       25
                           Governments and Private Corporations
                       Table 3.1: Supervisors’ Opinions Concerning the                         34
                           Adequacy of Performance Standards
                       Table 4.1: Supervisors Who Did Not Receive Training                     40
                       Table 4.2: Supervisors’ Opinions on the Adequacy of                     40
                           Training
                       Table VI. 1: Questionnaire Return                                       77



                       Page 9                                 GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
Cadent8




Table VI.2: Universe Estimates and Sampling Errors                     79
    (g&Percent Confidence Interval)




Abbreviations

CPDF       Central Personnel Data File
DC1        data collection instrument
GAO        General Accounting Office
GM         General Management
GS         General Schedule
MSPB       Merit Systems Protection Board
OPM        Office of Personnel Management
PMRS       Performance Management and Recognition System
SIB        Senior Executive Service
WG         Wage Grade


Pwe 10                                 GAO/GGD4W7 Perf’ormance Management
Page 11   GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
Chapter 1

Introduction


                       The Subcommittee on Federal Services, Post Office, and Civil Service,
                       Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, requested that GAOobtain
                       information on the extent to which federal agencies were identifying
                       and dealing with employees who are poor performers.

                       In January 1989, we issued a report on the results of our review of these
                       activities at the Social Security Administration1 This report discusses
                       how 2 locations in each of 10 federal agencies identified and dealt with
                       poor performers. It also incorporates the results of a questionnaire sent
                       to a random sample of supervisors throughout the government.

                       The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 requires federal agencies to estab-
                       lish appraisal systems for assessing employees’ performance and
                       prescribes the actions that can be taken against unacceptable per-
                       formers. The act intended to streamline the process for dismissing poor
                       performers. It attempted to balance the public’s need to have its busi-
                       ness performed competently with the rights of employees to be selected
                       and removed solely on the basis of their competence on the job.

                       Under laws existing prior to the Reform Act, an employee could only be
                       dismissed for unacceptable performance if dismissal would improve the
                       efficiency of the federal service. Agencies found it very difficult to
                       prove this to the degree required by the courts. Under current proce-
                       dures, an agency may reduce in grade or remove an employee for unac-
                       ceptable performance without having to demonstrate that the efficiency
                       of the government would be improved.


                       The Reform Act requires federal agencies to establish systems that pro-
Agencies Use           vide employees with feedback on how well they carry out their job
Performance            responsibilities in relation to management’s expectations. The Office of
Management Systems     Personnel Management (OPM) is responsible for playing a major role in
                       this process by developing the policies under which each agency is to
to Assessthe           operate and reviewing their performance appraisal systems to deter-
Performance of Their   mine whether they meet the act’s requirements.
Employees              As required by the Reform Act, the federal agencies we reviewed had
                       performance management systems that required supervisors to (1)
                       establish performance plans that specify each employee’s job tasks and


                       ‘Poor Performers: How They Are Identified and Dealt With in the Social Security Administration
                       @ii’-89-28,        Jan. 27,1989).



                       Page 12                                                GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                         Chapter 1
                         Introduction




                         the performance standard that is expected, (2) monitor employee per-
                         formance against performance expectations, and (3) prepare periodic
                         performance appraisals to determine the employee’s level of
                         performance.


Performance Planning     Supervisors are to begin the appraisal process by preparing a perform-
                         ance plan. This plan should be prepared in consultation with the
                         employee and contain the employee’s job tasks and the standards by
                         which the employee’s performance will be assessed.

                         In the plan, an employee’s job tasks can be divided into critical and non-
                         critical tasks. Critical tasks are required by OPM regulation and are
                         defined as major job tasks that are of sufficient importance that per-
                         formance at the unacceptable level requires corrective action and may
                         be the basis for removing the employee or reducing his or her grade
                         level. Noncritical tasks, which are optional, are defined as job tasks that
                         are important enough to require measurement but are not a key element
                         of the employee’s job.

                         Agencies’ procedures require that, to the extent possible, each perform-
                         ance standard be specific and permit appraisal based on objective cri-
                         teria clearly stated in terms of quality, quantity, and/or timeliness.


Performance Monitoring   Periodically throughout the appraisal period, the supervisor is expected
                         to discuss the performance plan with the employee. The employee is to
                         be informed of the level of performance and how it compares with the
                         standards contained in the performance plan.

                         At any time during the appraisal period, a supervisor can compare an
                         employee’s performance against performance standards. The supervisor
                         should call to the employee’s attention areas in which performance indi-
                         cates a need to improve and take positive steps to help the employee
                         improve his or her performance to at least the fully successful level.


Performance Appraisal    At the end of the appraisal period, the supervisor must determine the
                         employee’s level of achievement toward reaching each individual job
                         task by comparing actual performance against established standards.
                         OPMrequires agencies to have at least three levels for assessing indi-
                         vidual job tasks. All of the agencies we visited used either three or five,
                         with the middle level constituting fully successful performance.


                         Page 13                                   GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                          Chapter 1
                          Introduction




                          The levels of performance assigned to an employee’s job tasks are to be
                          used as the basis for making a summary assessment of the employee’s
                          performance, which, according to OPMregulations, must be made at one
                          of five levels. As is the case with individual job tasks, performance at
                          the middle level is considered to be fully successful. The two levels
                          above fully successful constitute excellent and outstanding perform-
                          ance, while the two levels below are for performance that is minimally
                          successful and unacceptable.


                          When employees are performing at either the minimally successful or
An Objective of           unacceptable levels, agencies’ policies and procedures require supervi-
Agencies’ Performance     sors to assist these individuals to improve their performance to the fully
Management Systems        successful level and to take appropriate action when efforts are not suc-
                          cessful. The process for dealing with poor performers can be undertaken
Is to Identify and Deal   at any time during the appraisal period. It usually begins with informal
With Poor Performers      counseling and closer supervision.

                          OPMguidance suggests that when a supervisor discusses poor perform-
                          ance with an employee, the supervisor make a’note to the file, with a
                          copy to the employee, which documents the matters discussed and any
                          assistance offered. If unacceptable performance continues, the super-
                          visor must inform the employee that he or she is being given an opportu-
                          nity period to improve performance. Neither the Reform Act nor OPM
                          regulations require that this notification be in writing; however, OPM
                          strongly recommends a written notice to maintain a complete agency
                          record.

                          Supervisors who give an employee an opportunity period to improve
                          performance identify the employee’s deficiencies, the action to be taken
                          by the employee to improve his or her performance, the assistance to be
                          provided by the supervisor, and the length of the opportunity period.
                          The agencies we visited did not require a specific length of time for the
                          opportunity period, stating instead that supervisors were expected to
                          give the poor performer a reasonable period to improve his or her per-
                          formance, depending on the circumstances in each case. Five of the
                          agencies provided general guidance related to the timing of opportunity
                          periods. Three of the five suggested a minimum time frame, and two
                          provided information on how long an opportunity period might nor-
                          mally be expected to last. Of these latter agencies, one said an opportu-
                          nity period would normally last 60 days; the other considered a
                          reasonable period to be from 30 to 60 days.



                          Page 14                                  GAO/GGD-91-7 Pedormance Management
                       Chapter 1
                       Introduction




                       If an employee’s performance is unacceptable at the conclusion of the
                       opportunity period, action can be proposed to remove or demote the
                       employee. The Reform Act requires that the employee is entitled to
                       advance written notice of the proposed action that identifies specific
                       instances of unacceptable performance by the employee and an opportu-
                       nity to respond to the proposed action. The employee is also entitled to a
                       written decision that specifies the instances of unacceptable perform-
                       ance on which the action is based. Most federal employees who are
                       removed or demoted have the right to appeal to the Merit Systems Pro-
                       tection Board (MSPB), which is responsible for adjudicating employee
                       appeals of removals and demotions for unacceptable performance.2 In
                       instances where an appeal is made, the burden of proof is on the
                       employing agency. If employees are in an organization represented by a
                       union, they can either use the grievance and arbitration process con-
                       tained in the labor-management contract or appeal to MSPB, but not both.

                       The other category of poor performance is minimally successful, and
                       actions that can be taken to deal with these individuals vary. Continued
                       minimally successful performance can lead to removal if the employee is
                       a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES).Also, under the Per-
                       formance Management and Recognition System (PMRS),~ minimally suc-
                       cessful performers do not receive a full general pay increase and such
                       performance can lead to reassignment, demotion, or removal. However,
                       minimally successful performance by General Schedule (GS) and Wage
                       Grade (WG) employees can only result in reassignment or the denial of
                       any within grade salary increase they may be due. The law only autho-
                       rizes the removal or demotion of a GS or WG employee if performance is
                       unacceptable.


                       Our objective was to determine how federal agencies were identifying
Objective, Scope,and   and dealing with poor performers. For the purpose of this review, we
Methodology            considered poor performers to be those employees performing below the
                       fully successful level-either at minimally successful or unacceptable.
                       Our review did not include an assessment of how poor performers in SES
                       were identified and dealt with. We visited 2 locations within each of 10
                       federal agencies. Using information obtained from OPM, the agencies and


                       ‘Whether an employee has appeal rights is governed by such factors as the nature of the employee’s
                       appointment and his or her tenure. For example, probationary employees do not have appeal rights.
                       3PMRSis the pay for performance system established for the government’s General Management
                       (GM) 13 through 16 managers and supervisors.



                       Page 16                                                GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
Chapter 1
Intxoductlon




locations were judgmentally selected to obtain a mix of those with rela-
tively large numbers of identified poor performers and those with few
or no poor performers.

To learn how organizations outside the federal government dealt with
poor performers, we visited 3 state governments, 3 local governments,
12 private corporations within the geographical areas of the GAO
regional offices involved in this review, and sent a letter of inquiry to
the states we did not visit. We did not verify the information obtained
from these organizations because their policies and procedures were not
the subject of this review. We were primarily interested in identifying
any aspects of their operations that might be used as ideas for
improving how the federal government deals with poor performers.*
Appendix II lists the locations we visited.

We visited OPM and MSPB to determine their responsibilities and to obtain
information on how well the agencies’ processes were working, We also
interviewed personnel officials at each agency’s headquarters and at
each of the 20 locations to determine policies and procedures for identi-
fying and dealing with poor performers and to obtain their opinions on
how well the process was working in their location. Additionally, we
interviewed 68 judgmentally selected managers and supervisors at the
20 locations. In selecting these, we included both managers and supervi-
sors who had poor performers and those who did not.

The 20 locations we visited employed about 85,000 persons in fiscal
year 1988. According to agency records at the 20 locations, 373
employees received less than fully successful appraisals in fiscal year
1988. We designed a data collection instrument (DCI) to obtain informa-
tion on how these poor performers were dealt with and the results of
supervisors’ efforts to improve their performance. Supervisors com-
pleted DCISon 340 of these employees. The DCIS for the remaining 33
employees were not completed because the supervisors were no longer
at the agencies. We verified the information in about 18 percent of the
DCISto personnel records to test the accuracy of the responses we
received.

To obtain additional information on how the government identifies and
deals with poor performers, we sent a questionnaire to a random sample
of 550 supervisors selected from OPM’S database of 252,366 civilian

4Where appropriate, we have incorporated a discussion of state and local governments’ and private
corporations’ procedures into the text of this report.



Page 16                                                GAO/GGBSl-7 Performance Management
chapter 1
Introduction




supervisors. The purpose of the questionnaire was to obtain supervi-
sors’ opinions and perceptions on the quality of the standards used to
measure performance, the process for dealing with poor performers,
management support of the process, and taking performance actions
against poor performers. We also obtained information on their exper-
iences in dealing with poor performers in fiscal year 1988. We mailed
the questionnaire in April 1989 with a follow-up mailing in May 1989.

Of the 550 supervisors in our sample, 396 (72 percent) returned usable
questionnaires. The supervisors who responded were employed in 28
federal agencies (see app. III). The questionnaires we received repre-
sented approximately 181,704 of the 252,366 civilian supervisors identi-
fied by OPM'S database. Our sample was designed to yield estimates that
are precise within * 5 percent of the true population at a 95-percent
confidence level. However, in some instances where only a subset of the
population responded to a question, our results could be less precise
because of the decrease in sample size. Estimates with sampling errors
greater than & 5 percent are noted in the report. A copy of the question-
naire is in appendix IV.

As part of our effort to analyze the data and develop the report issues,
we convened an eight-member panel of consultants representing private
corporations, academia, and the federal government. We discussed the
issues and findings in this report with them to obtain their views on how
the process for dealing with poor performers was working and how it
might be improved. Panel members are listed in appendix X.

Our review, which was done in accordance with generally accepted gov-
ernment auditing standards, did not include an assessment of the gov-
ernment’s appeal or arbitration processes. It took place between June
1988 and August 1989. Our scope and methodology are discussed in
greater detail in appendix VI. This appendix also contains the universe
estimates and estimate ranges that appear in this report.

Written comments on a draft of this report were provided by the
Director of OPM, the Executive Director of the National Federation of
Federal Employees, the Field Services Department Director of the Amer-
ican Federation of Government Employees, and the National President
of the National Treasury Employees Union. OPM'S comments are summa-
rized and evaluated in chapters 2 and 4 and are included in appendix I
along with our additional analysis. The comments received from the
employee unions are discussed in chapter 4 and included in appendixes
VII, VIII, and IX.


Page 17                                  GAO/GGD-91-7 Perf’ormance Management
Chapter   2

Supervisor Have BeenAble to Deal With Many
of the Poor Performers They Identified

              Contrary to general perception, most supervisors have been dealing
              with their poor performers. Supervisors often assisted poor performers
              by recommending formal training or by providing on-the-job training,
              additional supervision, and counseling on job performance. When
              employees’ performance remained unacceptable, supervisors proposed
              performance actions against them.

              We found that 62 to 70 percent of the poor performers identified by
              supervisors either improved their performance to fully successful, vol-
              untarily agreed to vacate their positions, or had performance actions
              such as demotion or removal proposed against them. Also, about 76 per-
              cent of the supervisors responding to our questionnaire indicated a will-
              ingness to deal with poor performers in the future.

              We found, however, that supervisors were experiencing problems
              dealing with GS and WG employees who continued to perform at the mini-
              mally successful level. Unlike PMRS and SES employees, whose continued
              performance at the minimally successful level can lead to demotion and/
              or removal, supervisors’ options for dealing with poor-performing GS
              and WG employees are limited to reassignment or the denial of their peri-
              odic within-grade increases. For employees near the top of their grade,
              such increases are due only once every 2 or 3 years. Thus, these options
              provide employees with little incentive to improve. The limited supervi-
              sory options for dealing with such situations have resulted in employees
              remaining in the minimally successful rating category for extended
              periods of time.

              The federal process used to deal with poor performers has many simi-
              larities to the process used by the state and local governments and pri-
              vate corporations that we visited. One notable exception, however,
              relates to how many of these organizations dealt with the group of
              employees causing problems for federal supervisors-minimally       suc-
              cessful performers. Of the eight corporations that had this rating cate-
              gory, seven had a policy that such employees could be removed if their
              performance did not improve.




              Page 18                                  GAO/GGD-91-7 Periomwnce Management
                       chapter 2
                       Supervlsom Have Been Able to Deal With
                       Many of the Poor Performers They Identified




                              Federal Personnel Manual states that one purpose :of the perform-
Most Supervisors Are   OPM’S
                       ante appraisal system is to help managers and supervisors recognize
Not Ignoring           and deal more effectively with performance deficiency problems. The
Performance-Related    policies and procedures at the 10 agencies we visited state that supervi-
                       sors are expected to assist poor performers and propose performance
Problems               actions against employees who are performing at the unacceptable level
                       after being provided with an opportunity to improve.

                       All of the poor performers whom supervisors have identified and may
                       be dealing with are not necessarily documented through the appraisal
                       process. For example, supervisors are authorized to work with poor per-
                       formers without preparing performance appraisals. Also, poor per-
                       formers may either improve their performance or vacate their position
                       at any time during the appraisal period.

                       Consequently, there are more poor performers throughout the govern-
                       ment than the number that are formally appraised as such. For example,
                       OPM data show that about 0.6 percent of federal employees were rated
                       below fully successful in fiscal year 1988. However, according to the
                       questionnaire responses we received from supervisors, an estimated
                       89,500, or 5.7 percent, of the estimated 1.57 million employees they
                       supervised performed below the fully successful level at some time
                       during fiscal year 1988.1 We estimated that these employees received
                       annual salaries of approximately $2.7 billion.

                       The information in table 2.1 was compiled from the questionnaire and
                       the 340 DCIS to show the results of supervisors’ efforts to deal with their
                       poor performers. Overall, our questionnaire analysis showed that about
                       98 percent of an estimated 50,014 supervisors who had poor performers
                       provided counseling, additional supervision, and/or training to assist
                       these individuals.




                       ‘This report contains information from (1) a questionnaire sent to a random sample of supervisors
                       from OPM’s database and (2) DCIs. Unless otherwise stated, the results from the questionnaire are
                       extrapolated to represent the universe. The DC1information represents the actual number of DCIs
                       that were completed.



                       Page 19                                                 GAO/GGD-91-7 Perlormance Management
                                       Chapter 2
                                       Supervbwr~ Have Been Able to Deal With
                                       Many of the Poor Performers They Identified




Table 2.1: Statue of Employeea Who
Were Identified a8 Poor Performers                                                     Employees in
                                                                                      questionnaire8                Emploveerr in DClr
                                       Status of employee                           Number        Percent          Number        Percent
                                       lmoroved to fullv successful                        71               38          116                34
                                       Voluntarily agreed to:
                                         Demotion                                           0                0            4                   1
                                         Reassianment                                      15                8           28               a
                                         Fiesionation                                      13                7           16                5
                                         Retirement                                         9                5           11                3
                                         Other                                              3                2           17                5
                                       Subtotal                                            40               22           76               22
                                       Performance action orooosed
                                                             I   I
                                                                                            4                2           46                14
                                       Still a poor performer                              70               38          102b               30
                                       Total                                             165              100           340               100
                                       Note: The employees in our DCls were rated as either minimally successful or unacceptable. The
                                       employees identified as poor performers in the questionnaires were not necessarily rated as such
                                       aThe questionnaire data in this table are not extrapolated to represent the universe.
                                       ‘At the time of our review, these employees had been poor performers for an average of 12 months and
                                       the range was 2 to 32 months.

                                       Table 2.2 shows the results of the 46 proposed actions-15 for demotion
                                       and 31 for removal-identified    from the DCIS.As the table shows, pro-
                                       posals for demotion and removal were often resolved in other ways.

Table 2.2: Results of Proposed
Demotlonr and Removal8                                                                                    Demotion                 Removal
                                       Actions completed:
                                         Demotion                                                                   8                       1
                                         Removal                                                                    0                      11
                                         Reassignment                                                               5                       4
                                         Resignation                                                                0                       7
                                         Retirement                                                                 0                       7
                                         No action taken                                                            0                       1
                                       Subtotal                                                                    13                     31
                                       Actions in process                                                           2                      0
                                       Total                                                                       16                     31


                                       The following examples obtained from the DCISillustrate how some
                                       supervisors have dealt with their poor performers.

                                     . Bill, a GS-1 1 computer programmer, was informed of his poor perform-
                                       ance on October 3,1988. His supervisor counseled and worked with him


                                       Page 20                                                  GAO/GGBI)l-7 Performance Management
    Chapt43r 2
    Super&on Have Bean Able to Deal With
    Many of the Poor Performers They Identifkd




  informally, and on November 1, 1988 (about 1 month later), his per-
  formance improved to fully successful. According to Bill’s supervisor,
  Bill just needed an additional push to get some tasks accomplished in a
  more timely manner.
l On July 1, 1988, Bob, a GS-12engineer, was informed of his poor per-
  formance. According to his supervisor, Bob was not self-motivated and
  historically had not been a strong performer. The supervisor increased
  the amount of supervision and put Bob on a performance improvement
  plan. On October 4, 1988 (about 3 months later), Bob improved his per-
  formance to fully successful.
. John, a GS-12,was informed at a counseling session on February 8, 1988,
  that his performance was less than fully successful. To assist John, his
  supervisor (1) provided him with an opportunity period to improve his
  performance, (2) increased the amount of his supervision, (3) provided
  on-the-job training, (4) counseled and worked with him informally, and
  (6) referred him to counselling services. The efforts were unsuccessful,
  and the consensus among supervisory and training officials was that
  John could not perform at the Gs-12 level. On April 16, 1988, the super-
  visor proposed that John be removed; on May 16,1988 (about 3 months
  after he was informed of his poor performance), John was removed.

    As shown in the following examples obtained from our IICI analysis,
    supervisors were sometimes willing to spend significant amounts of time
    assisting their poor performers.2

. Joe, a GS-13engineer, was informed during a counseling session on June
  18, 1986, that although there were several things he did well, one area
  of his work was minimally successful. The supervisor increased the level
  of supervision, and on November 1,1988 (over 28 months later), Joe’s
  performance improved to fully successful.
. Sarah, a minimally successful GM-E, was informed during a counseling
  session on March 16, 1988, that her performance was less than fully
  successful. The supervisor indicated that Sarah was not able to delegate
  tasks and had trouble following up on assignments and bringing them to
  completion. Sarah’s supervisor counseled her, provided on-the-job
  training and increased supervision, and arranged for Sarah to receive
  formal training. Sarah’s performance did not improve. On February 12,


    2Supervisors usually begin to deal with a poor performer by providing informal counseling and super-
    vision. In our LKX, we did not ask supervisors to distinguish between the time spent working with
    poor performers informa.lly and the time spent during formal opportunity improvement periods. We
    also did not ask supervisors to comment on the reasonableness of time frames for specific cases of
    poor performance.



    Page 21                                                GAO/GGDgl-7 Performance Management
                        Chapter 2
                        Supervisors Have Been Able to Deal With
                        Many of the Poor Performers They Identiaed




                        1989 (about 11 months after she was informed of her poor perform-
                        ance), she voluntarily agreed to accept a demotion to a GS-14 position.

                        The supervisors of the 116 employees in our DCI analysis who improved
                        to fully successful worked with their employees an average of about 10
                        months before their performance improved to that level. The times
                        ranged from less than a month to 44 months. The median time was 8
                        months.3 Supervisors said they spent over 1 year each assisting 31 of
                        these employees. The time supervisors spent assisting the employees in
                        our DCISis included in appendix V.

                        Even though the process can take a significant amount of time, about 76
                        percent of the supervisors responding to our questionnaire indicated a
                        willingness to continue to deal with poor performers in the future.


                        About 83 percent of an estimated 89,600 poor performers identified by
Supervisory Options     supervisors were performing at the minimally successful level. We do
for Dealing With GS     not have data on how many of these poor performers were GS, WG, or
and WG Minimally        PMRSemployees, However, it is probable that most of the poor per-
                        formers were in the GSand WG groups since these groups constitute
Successful Performers   about 93 percent of the total number of employees in the three groups
Are Limited             combined.

                        The minimally successful performance level poses a problem for super-
                        visors of GSand WG employees because they are limited in the actions
                        they can take to deal with employees who remain at this level for
                        extended periods of time. These employees cannot be rated as unaccept-
                        able because their performance in relation to the standards by which
                        they are assessed has not been poor enough to warrant such a rating.
                        Similarly, their performance has not been determined to be good enough
                        to meet the standards for a fully successful rating. According to OPM reg-
                        ulations and discussions with OPMofficials, supervisors can only reas-
                        sign such employees or deny their within-grade pay increases. These
                        options provide little leverage for the supervisor and little incentive for
                        the employee to improve performance, especially since employees near
                        the top of their grade are due such increases only once every 2 or 3
                        years. Thus, the minimally successful performance can last for extended
                        periods of time.


                        3Data show that the agencies that provided criteria for an opportunity period did not deal with their
                        poor performers any faster than the agencies that did not.



                        Page 22                                                  GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
                             chapter 2
                             Supervlmm Have Been Able to Deal With
                             Many of the Poor Performers They Identifled




SomeSupervisors View         An estimated 33,966, or 19 percent, of the supervisors in our question-
Limited Options for          naire indicated that not being able to demote or remove a minimally suc-
                             cessful employee has decreased the likelihood that they will deal with
Dealing With Certain         these employees in the future. Further, about 69 percent of the 88 per-
Minimally Successful         sonnel officials, managers, and supervisors we interviewed said that
Employees as a Problem       minimally successful performers are a problem. The following are exam-
                             ples of comments we received from interviews and questionnaires
                             regarding the minimally successful performance level.

                         . One manager we interviewed said that minimally successful employees
                             do not present any problem in his division because they are all rated
                             “fully successful.”
                         .   Another manager indicated that existing regulations were not very
                             helpful in dealing with minimally successful employees because little
                             can be done other than to reassign them and they can remain in that
                             level of performance “forever.”
                         .   A supervisor commented, “I have seen people that are minimal that are
                             dead ended in jobs they never leave . . . and they are poor performers
                             for years and years.”
                         .   Another supervisor said “The inability to remove a marginal employee
                             is a serious problem. I recommend that, after two go-day improvement
                             periods, those remaining marginal become subject to removal, etc.”
                         .   A third supervisor said that “the minimally successful performer is the
                             most difficult to deal with since there are so many gray areas.”


GS and WG Employees Can      Some employees remain at the minimally successful level for an
Remain Minimally             extended period of time. For example, the 194 employees in our DCIanal-
                             ysis who were rated minimally successful performed at this level from
Successful for Extended      11 days to about 44 months, and averaged about 10 months. Because 68,
Periods of Time              or about 30 percent, of these minimally successful performers were still
                             receiving assistance at the time we completed our analysis, the final
                             average for the group will be even longer.

                             The responses to our questionnaire also provided evidence of the
                             extended periods of time during which employees can remain minimally
                             successful. An analysis of these responses from supervisors indicated
                             that about 4.7 percent of their approximately 1.67 million subordinates
                             had performed at the minimally successful level at some time during
                             fiscal year 1988. An estimated 20,189, or 27 percent, of these individ-
                             uals were said to have been performing at this level for 12 months or
                             more.



                             Page 22                                       GAO/GGDI)l-7 Performance Management
                                        Chapter 2
                                        Supervisors Have Been Able to Deal With
                                        Many of the Poor Performera They Identifled




Table 2.3: Number of Months Employees
Were Minimally Successful Performers    Range of time performance was minimally successful                                   Percenr
                                        Less than 6 months                                                                         46
                                        6 to less than 12 months                                                                   27
                                        12 months or more                                                                          27
                                        aThe sampling error for these estimates is greater than 5 percent. See appendix VI

                                        One of the cases cited in our earlier report on the Social Security Admin-
                                        istration illustrates the amount of effort exerted and the frustration
                                        experienced by supervisors when attempting to help minimally suc-
                                        cessful employees improve their performance. In a progress report, a
                                        supervisor told an employee that her performance for the previous 3
                                        months was minimally successful and that her within-grade increase
                                        would be denied. The employee continued to perform at the minimally
                                        successful level for over 3 more years. During that time, we identified at
                                        least 10 progress reviews held with the employee as well as an offer of
                                        additional training, which the employee declined. Finally, after 3 l/2
                                        years, the supervisor stopped formal efforts to encourage the employee
                                        to improve, even though her performance was still only minimally
                                        successful.

                                        OPMregulations require agencies’ performance appraisal systems to have
                                        five summary rating levels, including a level for minimally successful
                                        performance. Also, several agencies are using a minimally successful
                                        category for rating individual performance elements. Because the Civil
                                        Service Reform Act only provides supervisory options for dealing with
                                        unacceptable performance by GSand WGemployees, supervisors are lim-
                                        ited in the options they can take to deal with individuals whose per-
                                        formance falls into the minimally successful category.


Legislation Contains                    There is precedent under current federal law for taking additional
Additional Options for                  actions to deal with the minimally successful performer. For example, 5
                                        U.S.C. 4314(b)(4) states that any senior executive who twice in any
Supervisors to Consider                 period of 3 consecutive years receives less than fully successful ratings
When Dealing With PMRS                  shall be removed from the Senior Executive Service.
and SESEmployees
                                        Also, Public Law 101-l 03, enacted in September 1989 to extend PMw for
                                        ~~-13 through -15 employees, provides for placing any employee whose
                                        performance has been rated less than fully successful on a performance




                                        Page 24                                                  GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
                                          Chapter2
                                          Supetira    Have Been Able to Deal With
                                          Many of the Poor Performera They Identified




                                          Chapter 2
                                          Supervi~om Have Been Able to Deal With
                                          Many of the Poor Performers They Identified




                                          improvement plan. If the employee fails to attain at least the fully suc-
                                          cessful level after a reasonable time, the employee can be reassigned,
                                          reduced in grade, or removed.

                                          In May 1990, the administration submitted a proposal to reform the pay
                                          of federal white collar (PMRSand GS) employees. Under the proposal,
                                          employees performing at the fully successful level or above would be
                                          eligible for performance-based additions to their pay. However,
                                          employees judged to be doing less than fully successful work would not
                                          receive any pay increases.


                                          The performance appraisal systems and the processes for dealing with
State and Local                           poor performers used by the state and local governments and private
Government and                            corporations we visited are generally similar to those of federal agen-
Private Corporation                       cies. The state and local governments’ and private corporations’ systems
                                          generally require supervisors to (1) establish performance plans con-
Supervisors Have                          taining tasks and standards, (2) monitor employee performance against
More Options for                          expectations, and (3) prepare performance appraisals. When a poor per-
Dealing With                              former is identified, these systems generally allow for a period within
                                          which to improve performance. However, contrary to federal supervisor
Minimally Successful                      options for minimally successful GS and WGemployees, some nonfederal
Performers                                supervisors have the additional options of demotion and removal.

                                          We visited a total of 18 state and local governments and private corpo-
                                          rations. Of the 17 from which we received information regarding an
                                          opportunity period for improvement, 16 said that they provided one.
                                          Their responses as to how long their opportunity periods lasted are sum-
                      ”                   marized in table 2.4.

Table 2.4: Opportunity Periods of State
and Local Governments and Private         Time frame                                                          Number
                                          -__-                                                -___---__
Corporation8                               1.5 months                                                                 1
                                          3 months                                                                    4
                                          4 months                                                                    1
                                           1 to 3 months                                                              3
                                           1 to 4 months                                                              1
                                          2-----_
                                              to 4 months
                                              .        A’
Chapter 2
Supervkrs Have Been Able to Deal With
Mnny of the Poor Performers They Identified




Like federal agencies, the state and local governments and private cor-
porations generally use the opportunity period to discuss the (1)
employee’s current level of performance, citing those areas requiring
improvement; (2) specific level of performance expected in each of the
identified deficiencies; (3) time frames for improvement; and (4) steps
management will take to support improvement. If job performance
remains unacceptable at the end of an opportunity period, the state and
local governments’ and private corporations’ procedures generally call
for action to remove, demote, or reassign the employee.

We found that in the private sector and at the state and local levels,
removal and demotion actions can also be taken for minimally suc-
cessful performers. Of the 12 private corporations we visited, 8 had a
rating category equivalent to minimally successful, and 7 had a policy
that minimally successful employees could be removed. For example,
one corporation’s procedures stated that the minimally successful
employee is someone who is not consistently meeting the requirements
of the job. The procedures further stated that the corporation could not
afford to have someone in that situation very long and that there either
must be improvement, early consideration for reassignment, or a deci-
sion to remove the employee. Of the six state or local governments we
visited, four had a rating category equivalent to minimally successful;
two had a policy allowing minimally successful employees to be demoted
or removed. Thirteen of the other states we contacted also had such a
rating category, and 12 allowed minimally successful employees to be
demoted or removed.

Seventeen of the organizations we visited also provided an avenue of
appeal. At the state and local governments we visited, the process was
similar to that of the federal government in that employees could appeal
to state or local personnel boards. However, the process for the private
corporations we visited differed in that the highest level of appeal-
other than filing a lawsuit-was    the corporation president or chief exec-
utive officer.

The relationship between employers and employees in the private
sector-even with regard to performance problems-is generally per-
ceived as being governed almost exclusively by the doctrine of “employ-
ment-at-will,” which can be characterized as the right of an employer to
fire an employee for any reason and at any time. However, the employ-
ment-at-will doctrine has been significantly eroded as a result of several




Page 26                                       GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                      chapter2
                      511pervioor11Have Been Able to Deal With
                      Many of the Poor Performers They Identif’ied




                      A fourth option would be to amend the Civil Service Reform Act to pro-
                      vide supervisors with the additional options of demoting and/or
                      removing GS and WGemployees who perform at the minimally successful
                      level for extended periods. On a case-by-case basis, supervisors could
                      choose from among the available options after giving due consideration
                      to the individual facts and circumstances. Employees would, of course,
                      retain their rights to appeal or arbitration. This option would enable
                      supervisors to deal more effectively with poor-performing GS and WG
                      employees and would make supervisory options for doing so more con-
                      sistent with those now available for PMRSand SIB personnel.

                      We favor a combination of the third and fourth options. Such actions
                      would result in more consistency across employee groups regarding the
                      opportunity to earn extra pay for good performance and the denial of
                      pay increases for poor performance. They would also result in more con-
                      sistency across employee groups regarding the case-by-case options
                      from which supervisors can choose for dealing with poor performance.
                      Finally, such actions could be taken without affecting employee rights
                      for appeal or arbitration.


                      Congress should consider ways to ease the difficulties supervisors
Matters for           encounter when dealing with GS and WG employees who have performed
Congressional         at the minimally successful level for lengthy periods. The range of
Consideration         options considered should include the following:

                  . have agencies change performance standards so that what is now con-
                    sidered to be minimally successful performance becomes unacceptable;
                  . eliminate the minimally successful rating category by law or OPM
                    regulation;
                  . enact legislation to link pay to performance more closely for GS and WG
                    employees, while giving supervisors authority to deny pay increases to
                    long-term minimally successful performers; and
                  . enact legislation to give supervisors the additional options of demoting
                    and/or removing rs and WGemployees who remain at the minimally suc-
                    cessful level after being given a reasonable opportunity to improve.


                      OPMconcurred in our reservations about the first two options we
Agency Comments       presented. With regard to option 2, OPMpointed out that because agen-
          Y           ties have some discretion in determining the number of rating levels to




                      Page 29                                        GAO/GGDBl-7 Performance Management
chapter 2
Supervlsor~ Have Been Able to Deal With
Many of the Poor Performers They Identified




and have resulted in performance at the minimally successful level for
extended periods of time.

One option for enabling supervisors to deal more effectively with mini-
mally successful performers would be to redefine performance stan-
dards so that performance currently considered minimally successful
would become unacceptable. Making the standards more stringent could
result in some minimally successful employees moving to the unaccept-
able rating category. In all probability, however, there would still be
employees who would meet the revised standards for minimally suc-
cessful performance and remain at that level for extended periods. Also,
the inconsistency in supervisory options across employee groups would
remain.

A second option would be to eliminate the minimally successful rating
category completely so that employees who would otherwise have been
rated as minimally successful would have to be rated as either unaccept-
able or fully successful. This could be accomplished if agencies opted to
or were required to eliminate the minimally successful rating category
from assessment of individual job tasks and if OPMchanged its regula-
tions regarding summary ratings for GSand WGemployees. The problem
with this option, however, is that-in all likelihood-the   performance
of many employees who are minimally successful would not be consid-
ered poor enough to be rated as unacceptable and would thus be rated as
fully successful. Therefore, although the rating category would be elimi-
nated, the type of performance it identifies would not. Also, the dis-
parity in supervisory options across employee groups would still exist.

A third option would be to enact legislation that more closely links pay
to performance for Gs and WGemployees. Such legislation could give
supervisors the discretion to deny pay increases to employees who per-
form below the fully successful level for extended periods without a
legitimate reason. Alternatively, legislation could be enacted to prohibit
pay increases to employees rated below the fully successful level as pro-
vided for by the administration’s May 1990 proposal for white collar
(PMRSand GS)employees. Denying pay increases to poor performers
could serve as an incentive for them to either improve their perform-
ance or vacate their positions. It would also put them on a more consis-
tent basis with PMRSand SESpersonnel relative to pay for performance.
However, this action would not by itself preclude the employee from
choosing to continue performing at the minimally successful level for an
extended period. Neither would it completely eliminate the inconsis-
tency in supervisory options across employee groups.


Page 29                                       GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
The Processfor Identifying and DealingWith
Poor PerforormemCaylBe Difficult to Implement

                       Although most supervisors have been dealing with their poor per-
                       formers, a significant number have not. Personnel officials, managers,
                       and supervisors believed that poor performers were not always being
                       identified through the appraisal process because supervisors did not
                       want to follow the process for dealing with them.

                       Many of the supervisors we contacted indicated that identifying and
                       dealing with poor performers can be a difficult and time consuming
                       task. An estimated 91,770, or 61 percent, of the supervisors experienced
                       one or more problems, including the amount of time involved in dealing
                       with such individuals, difficulty in using existing performance stan-
                       dards to measure performance, a perception that they did not have suf-
                       ficient authority or lacked management support in proposing
                       performance actions, and a reluctance to go through the appeal or arbi-
                       tration process. Although no one problem was cited by more than 22
                       percent of the responding supervisors, taken collectively, these
                       problems indicate that the task of identifying and dealing with poor per-
                       formers may be more difficult than it needs to be.


                       Personnel officials, managers, and supervisors said that poor per-
Not All Supervisors    formers are sometimes rated fully successful, and thus not formally
Are Identifying Poor   identified, because supervisors did not want to use the process to deal
Performers             with them. Our questionnaire analysis provided further evidence that
                       not all supervisors are identifying poor performers. An estimated
                       19,730, or 11 percent, of the supervisors would be unlikely to use their
                       agency’s process to deal with poor performers in the future, primarily
                       because the process takes too long and uses too much of their time.
                       Other reasons cited by respondents included the view that the process
                       disrupted working relationships and that they were aware of problems
                       encountered by other supervisors who had used the process to deal with
                       their poor performers.

                       According to the questionnaire responses of those supervisors who had
                       poor performers, an estimated 4,130, or 8 percent, had poor performers
                       that they did not assist. Rather than deal with these individuals, the
                       supervisors indicated that they reduced the employee’s workload, gave
                       the employee easier work, hoped that the situation would work itself
                       out, or reassigned the employee to another unit.

                       Some examples of supervisors’ questionnaire comments concerning this
                       matter follow.



                       Page 31                                 GAO/GGD-91-7 PerPormance Management
Chapter 2                                                                     ,
Supervisora Have Been Able to Deal With
Many of the Poor Performers They Identified




be used in assessing individual job tasks, the minimally successful cate-
gory could be eliminated for such tasks without legislative change. How-
ever, as also pointed out by OPM, the use of this approach would deny
agencies the flexibility of having a minimally successful rating category.

OPM  agreed with our third option- adopting pay for performance for GS
and WG employees. Concerning our fourth option, OPM agreed that super-
visors need additional authority to deal with employees who continue to
perform at the minimally successful level after being given a reasonable
opportunity to improve. OPM suggested that such authority could be pro-
vided by changing the wording of the law to authorize performance-
based actions against employees who continue to perform “below the
fully successful level.”

OPM  prefers this approach for dealing with minimally successful per-
formers because it would retain the flexibility agencies now have to use
or not use the minimally successful rating level while at the same time
allowing supervisors to act against employees rated as minimally suc-
cessful in one or more individual performance elements. OPM also
pointed out that this approach would conform with the approach
recently adopted under the PMRS program. We believe that OPM’s pro-
posal provides a viable way to implement our fourth option.




Page 30                                       GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                       w-3
                       TheProeoeeforI4len~endD@alingmtb
                       Poor Pelfomlela can Be Dmcalt
                       toImplement




                       working with individuals whose performance had improved. As pointed
                       out in chapter 2, this took as long as 44 months.

                       Some of the comments we received from supervisors regarding time
                       included the following.

                       It takes months of a supervisor’s time to develop sufficient documenta-
                       tion to remove or demote an employee.
                       It takes so long to get rid of someone that supervisors just “put up with”
                       the poor performer.
                       The actions leading to an employee’s removal are too long and take an
                       inordinate amount of the supervisor’s time.
                       Even with the Civil Service Reform Act, it is still very difficult and
                       extremely time-consuming to take removal action.

                       Based on an analysis of our questionnaire responses, an estimated
                       18,354, or 10 percent, of the supervisors would be unlikely to propose a
                       performance action in the future. Of these, an estimated 11,930, or 65
                       percent, would be unlikely because the process took too much of their
                       time.2


                        To evaluate the performance of their subordinates effectively, federal
Supervisors Have        agency supervisors must have valid performance standards and reliable
Difficulty Using        methods of monitoring and measuring performance in relation to pre-
Standards to Measure    scribed standards. Federal law (5 U.S.C. 4302(b)(l)) requires that each
                        performance appraisal system shall provide for performance standards
Performance             that will “to the maximum extent feasible, permit the accurate evalua-
                       tion of job performance on the basis of objective criteria related to the
                       job in question. . .” The Federal Personnel Manual states that, to the
                       extent feasible, performance standards should be realistic, reasonable,
                        objective, and measurable.

                       The agencies’ performance standards describe measures of performance
                       in both non-numeric terms (i.e., descriptive words) and numeric terms
                       (i.e., quantifiable). Table 3.1 summarizes supervisors’ opinions on the
                       adequacy of performance standards.




                       “The sampling error for this cstimatc is greater than 5 percent. See appendix VI.



                       Page 33                                                  GAO/GGDBl-7 Performance Management
                           Chapter 3
                           The Process for Identifying and Dealing With
                           Poor Performers Can Be Difficult
                           to Implement




                       l A supervisor said that the easiest approach (and one proven successful
                         by other supervisors) was to ignore the problem and assign any essential
                         work to other employees.
                       . A supervisor responded that he would not propose a performance
                         action. He wrote that, historically, his organization has passed on
                         problem employees to a new supervisor instead of dealing with the
                         problem or confronting the employees. He said that if he inherited a
                         problem employee, he would not put his neck on the line to attempt to
                         correct a long-standing deficiency unless he was positive that manage-
                         ment would support the action.
                       l A supervisor commented that most supervisors try to ignore the
                         problem if possible and hope it will go away.
                       . A supervisor said that the system puts a burden on the supervisor to
                         prove and re-prove the employee’s failings to a point that it is not worth
                         the time and effort for supervisors to pursue that course of action.
                       . A supervisor commented that she had a poor performer who had been
                         an ongoing problem. The employee had been placed in jobs she was
                         unable to handle for the last 5 years. Rather than dealing with the real
                         problem of her inability to supervise and handle multiple tasks with
                         constant interruptions, she was passed around, consequently causing
                         problems for many people.

                           Over 60 percent of the 88 personnel officials, managers, and supervisors
                           interviewed at the 20 locations we visited also expressed a concern that
                           not all supervisors were identifying their poor performers. Some of the
                           reasons they gave for this nonidentification were that

                       . the process is too time-consuming,
                       . supervisors want to avoid confrontation, and
                       l supervisors believe they lack management support.


                           Our questionnaire analysis showed that supervisors spent an average of
Supervisors Believed       about 5 hours a week providing assistance to each poor performer they
That Dealing With          had; our DCI analysis showed that this time commitment could extend
Poor Performers Took       for several months.1 For example, of the 102 employees who were iden-
                           tified in our DCIS as poor performers and who were still in that category
Too Much of Their          at the time we completed our review, 38 had been rated as unacceptable.
Time                       Fourteen of these individuals had been assisted for periods of time
                           ranging from 13 to 32 months and actions to deal with them still had not
                           been proposed. Supervisors also had to spend long periods of time

                           ‘The sampling error for this estimate is greater that 6 percent. See appendix VI.



                           Page 32                                                  GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
                             The Proccae for Identifyhg and Dealing With
                             Poor Performem Can Be Diffhlt
                             to Implement




                             An estimated 28,907, or 16 percent, of the supervisors perceived a lack
Supervisors Perceive a       of adequate management support for taking performance actions
Lack of Management           against unacceptable performers. Examples of their comments follow.
Support                  l Most upper level managers are reluctant to support actions dealing with
                           employee performance. They often use a common “cop out” such as “the
                           employee’s performance is your own/our failure to deal with perform-
                           ance.” The end result often leads to frustration and a passive attitude
                           with first and second level supervisors and managers,
                         . Increasingly, management is apathetic to supervisors trying to work
                           through or with a performance problem. Often, evidence and documen-
                           tation clearly indicate the problems, yet management refuses to be
                           responsive to the supervisor.
                         . Management discourages giving anyone a less than fully successful
                           rating because of the problems that can arise if the employee decides to
                           fight the rating.
                         . Higher levels of management and some involved in personnel work may
                           be supportive to little or no extent, often creating confusion and frustra-
                           tion for the employee and supervisor.

                             The following LZI case highlights the lack of management support that
                             can be experienced by a supervisor.

                             Jack, a GS-13 management analyst, was first recognized as a poor per-
                             former on March 27, 1988. He was provided with informal feedback,
                             counseling, and written comments on his completed work. During his
                             progress review on June 29, 1988, his supervisor provided him with
                             written comments on the specific tasks that needed to be improved so
                             that he could be rated at the fully successful level. Jack’s supervisor
                             also offered to meet weekly with him to discuss assignments and per-
                             formance, recommended specific training that could improve perform-
                             ance, and referred him to a counseling service. Jack was given until
                             September 30, 1988, to improve.

                             Before the end of the rating period, the supervisor recognized that
                             Jack’s performance had further deteriorated and sought assistance from
                             both her immediate supervisor and Employee Relations. It was decided
                             that Jack’s rating would be delayed and he would be given a 60-day
                             written notice to improve. Jack’s supervisor started writing the notice in
                             August 1988; it was not completed until October 7, 1988. According to
                             the supervisor, the notice was delayed because of the complexity of
                             Jack’s position, coupled with Employee Relations’ concern that all docu-
                             mentation be absolutely defensible (e.g., the deficiencies be accurately


                             Page 35                                       GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                                   Chapter 3
                                   The Process for Identifying and DeaUng With
                                   Poor Performers Can Be Difficult
                                   to Implement




Table 3.1: Supervisors’ Opiniona
Concerning the Adequacy of                                                         Non-numeric
Performance Standards                                                               standards                    Numeric standards
                                                                                Number       Percent            Number       Percent
                                   Adequate                                      107,829                 75       69,286          648
                                   Neither adequate nor inadequate                20,189                 14       18,354          17
                                   Inadequate                                     16,519                 11       20,648          19
                                   BThesampling error for this estimate is greater than 5 percent. See appendix VI.

                                   Among supervisors citing problems with standards, the most frequently
                                   stated problem was that it was difficult to measure the employee’s per-
                                   formance against the standards. About 33 percent of an estimated
                                   18,364 supervisors who indicated that they would be unlikely to pro-
                                   pose a performance action in the future said the standards were not suf-
                                   ficient to support the action.3


                                   Lack of authority was viewed as a problem by an estimated 39,002, or
Supervisors Perceive a             22 percent, of the supervisors. This sense of insufficient authority was
Lack of Authority to               higher among supervisors who had experience dealing with poor per-
Propose Performance                formers than among those who had not. About 32 percent of the super-
                                   visors with poor performers perceived a lack of authority.4 Only about
Actions                            18 percent of the supervisors without poor performers had this
                                   problem.

                                   Our questionnaire analysis showed that supervisors who believed they
                                   lacked authority to propose actions were less likely to do so than super-
                                   visors who believed they had the authority. Of the estimated 39,002
                                   supervisors who believed they lacked authority, about 21 percent were
                                   unlikely to propose action against poor performers.6 Of the supervisors
                                   who believed they had authority, only about 7 percent were unlikely to
                                   propose action.




                                   ?he sampling error for this estimate is greater than 6 percent. See appendix VI.
                                   ‘The sampling error for this estimate is greater than 6 percent. See appendix VI.

                                   %he sampling error for this estimate is greater than 6 percent. !%e appendix VI.



                                   Page 34                                                   GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
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                         The Process for Identifying   and Dealing With
                         Poor Performem Can Be Difficult
                         to Implement




                         Over 40 percent of the personnel officials, managers, and supervisors
Supervisors Are          we interviewed said that the potential for an employee using the appeal
Reluctant to Go          or arbitration process would affect a manager’s or supervisor’s willing-
Through the Appeal       ness to pursue a performance action.
and Arbitration          Some of the comments we received are as follows.
Process              . “The appeal/arbitration process is a very definite deterrent due to the fear of the
                       unknown and the fact that you are out on a limb.”
                     . “The supervisor knows that it will be a time-consuming, uphill battle because the burden
                       of proof is on the supervisor.”
                     . “It is a painful process, but it is needed.”
                     . “The balance with respect to documenting and dealing with poor performers is on the
                       side of the employee. The burden of proof rests almost exclusively with the supervisor,
                       requiring much time and an incredible amount of documentation before appropriate
                       action can be taken by the supervisor. Many first line supervisors are reluctant to take
                       action for this reason. The grievance/appeals/arbitration process often assumes the
                       supervisor to be ‘guilty’ and the problem employee ‘innocent.’ ”

                         Our questionnaire analysis showed that about 35 percent of the esti-
                         mated 18,354 supervisors who would be unlikely to propose a perform-
                         ance action in the future did not want to go through the appeal or
                         arbitration process.9


                         The comments from supervisors responding to our questionnaire indi-
Conclusions              cate that identifying and dealing with poor performers can be a difficult
                         and time-consuming task. We agree with this observation. It is difficult
                         to inform employees of performance problems. In addition, the interac-
                         tion associated with providing employees with the opportunity to
                         improve their performance can result in the preparation of a certain
                         amount of documentation and require a great deal of a supervisor’s
                         time.

                         It would be unrealistic to expect to eliminate all of the difficulty associ-
                         ated with this process. However, it is unfair to expect managers and
                         supervisors to operate in an environment where identifying and dealing
                         with poor performers tends to be much more difficult than it needs to
                         be. The problems experienced by supervisors indicate that this has fre-
                         quently been the case.



                         OThesamplingerror for this estimate is greater than 6 percent. !3eeappendix VI.



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llw Process for Identifying and Dealing With
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to Implement




described within the scope of the performance standards, the marginal
level of performance necessary to retain the position be accurately
described, etc.).

Jack’s performance did not improve during the opportunity period;
therefore, his supervisor felt that a proposal to remove him was appro-
priate. Jack then presented a medical letter and used an excerpt from
that letter in an attempt to be reassigned. The excerpt stated that the
employee may benefit from a change in assignment. No further explana-
tion or information was requested, and, based on that one statement,
Jack was reassigned. The supervisor said that this was at least the
second time that Jack has been dealt with through reassignment.

This sense of inadequate support was higher among supervisors who
had experience in dealing with poor performers than it was among those
who had not. About 24 percent of the supervisors with poor performers
perceived a lack of management ~upport.~ Only about 13 percent of the
supervisors without poor performers perceived this problem.

According to our questionnaire analysis, of the approximately 18,354
supervisors who would be unlikely to propose a performance action in
the future, about 68 percent would be unlikely to take action because
they believed they did not have management’s support.7 Our analysis
also showed that supervisors who believed they did not have manage-
ment support to propose actions were less likely to propose actions
against unacceptable performers than those supervisors who believed
they had support. Of the supervisors who believed they did not have
management support, about 31 percent said they were unlikely to pro-
pose actions.8 Only about 6 percent of the supervisors who believed they
had management support were unlikely to propose actions.




‘?he sampling error for this estimate is greater than 6 percent. See appendix VI.
7The sampling error for this estimate is greater than 6 percent. See appendix VI.

%w sampling error for this estimate is greater than 5 percent. See appendix VI.



Page 36                                                  GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
Chap&r 4

Maagement CommitmentIs Neededto
EnhanceEfforts to Deal With Poor Performers

                       There are no easy answers to the questions of how to better motivate
                       managers and supervisors to identify poor performers or how to make it
                       easier to deal with them. An essential element, however, is that top man-
                       agement needs to be committed to assisting its managers and supervi-
                       sors in carrying out this important task and assuring them that they will
                       be supported throughout the process.

                       We believe that agencies could best demonstrate this commitment and
                       alleviate the burden on the employees’ supervisors by improving super-
                       visory training, ensuring that supervisors receive a greater degree of
                       technical assistance from agency personnel officials, and providing more
                       definitive and visible management oversight. Enhanced training and
                       technical assistance could help supervisors to clearly understand their
                       authority and responsibilities and make them aware of the assistance
                       and support that is available to them when working to resolve perform-
                       ance-related problems. Managerial oversight could complement this
                       effort by reinforcing management’s interest in the performance manage-
                       ment process and identifying situations where supervisors may need
                       assistance.


                       Supervisors responding to our questionnaire cited a lack of guidance as
Supervisors Need       one of the reasons they would be unlikely to deal with poor performers
Training and           in the future. Of those supervisors who indicated that they would be
Technical Assistance   unlikely to take performance actions, about 3,212, or 18 percent, have
                       not been given sufficient guidance on using the pr0cess.l

                       Supervisors need training and technical assistance to assist them in
                       identifying and dealing with poor performers. The Federal Personnel
                       Manual states that no effort should be spared to ensure that supervisors
                       are fully prepared to carry out their supervisory responsibilities. The
                       Manual states that at a minimum, agencies need a formal training pro-
                       gram with periodic refresher training for all supervisors. The program
                       should, at a minimum, include training to help supervisors develop and
                       use realistic performance standards and distinguish among various
                       levels of performance to justify rewards or initiate performance action.
                       The Manual also states that agency personnel offices should furnish
                       supervisors with the technical information they need to implement and
                       manage the performance appraisal program.



                       ‘The sampling error for this estimate is greater than 6 percent. See appendii VI.



                       Page 39                                                  GAO/GGDW-7 Performamx Management
chapter 3
The Procelle for Identl,fyhg and IkaQbg With
Poor Performem Can Be Diffkult
to Implement




There are no easy answers that would remedy this situation. We note,
however, that supervisors need to believe that management is concerned
about poor performers, that there is an interest in getting poor per-
formers to improve, and that assistance will be provided if it is needed.
Chapter 4 provides additional insight into the actions that could be
taken to help demonstrate such a commitment.




Page 33                                        GAO/GGDol-7 Perfommnce Management
                            Chapter 4
                            Management Ckmmitment Is Needed to
                            Enhance Efforta to Deal with
                            Poor Performera




                            One essential aspect of the performance appraisal process is a provision
Additional Managerial       for continuous review, assessment, and-when needed-revision. Fed-
Oversight Needsto Be        eral personnel instructions require agencies to establish methods and
Provided                    procedures for periodically evaluating the effectiveness of their per-
                            formance appraisal systems.

                            At 16 of the 20 locations we visited, however, personnel officials said
                            that they did not receive or maintain statistics on the number of poor
                            performers given opportunities to improve, how poor performance cases
                            were being resolved, or how long it took to deal with performance
                            problems. Moreover, most of the program managers we contacted did
                            not believe they had any responsibilities for managing and monitoring
                            the process for dealing with poor performers.

                            Management oversight would be particularly useful in helping address
                            two of the problems cited by supervisors in identifying and dealing with
                            poor performers-( 1) the difficulty in using standards to measure per-
                            formance and (2) the concern that working with poor performers takes
                            too much time.

                            On their questionnaires, supervisors provided the following examples of
                            specific standards they were having problems with and why they were a
                            problem.

                        . A numeric standard required “three to six successful industrial engi-
                          neering studies during the year.” The supervisor commented that the
                          problem with this standard is that studies may vary from relatively
                          short duration (Le., a single issue economic analysis) to a multiyear
                          plant layout. The supervisor also commented that the plant layout may
                          not prove successful or unsuccessful until the facility is occupied.
                        l A non-numeric standard required that an employee “lead and/or con-
                          duct inspections/investigations of a complex and/or specialized nature.”
                          The supervisor said that the problem with this standard is that the
                          actual quality of individual inspections is often unknown because the
                          employee does them away from the office.
                        . A non-numeric standard required an employee to “process routine and
                          most complex claims timely and accurately, utilizing the appropriate
                          adjudicative technique.” The supervisor said that the problem with this
                          standard is that “timely” and “accurately” are not defined. The super-
                          visor also commented that performance standards need to be well-




                            Page 41                                  GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                                                                                                                                                    ,

                                                       Chapter 4
                                                       Management Commitment Is Needed to
                                                       Enhance Efforts to Deal With
                                                       Poor Performers




                                                       According to personnel officials at each of the 20 locations we visited,
                                                       initial performance management training is provided for its supervisors;
                                                       however, 7 of the locations did not provide refresher training. Many of
                                                       the supervisors responding to our questionnaire said they had not
                                                       received training or believed their training was inadequate in the fol-
                                                       lowing areas:

                                                   l   using performance standards,
                                                   l   assisting poor performers in improving their performance, and/or
                                                   l   initiating performance action against unacceptable performers.

                                                       Table 4.1 shows the supervisors who said they did not receive training
                                                       in these areas. Table 4.2 shows, for the supervisors who received
                                                       training, their opinion of the adequacy of training in the three areas.

Table 4.1: Supervisor8 Who Did Not
Receive Training                                       Type of training                                                              Number         Percent
                                                       Using performance standards                                                    25,695             15
                                                       Providing assistance to poor performers                                        44,967             25
                                                       Initiating/proposing performance actions                                       51,391             29




Table 4.2: Supervisor@ Opinions on the Adequacy of Training
                                                                                  Adequate                     Neither                    Inadequate
Type of training                                                               Number   Percent            Number    Percent           Number    Percent
Usting performance
         .-.. _. _~.-....--~standards
                              ._..                                              110,123             74       20,648             14         18,354        12
                                                       --.
Providing ..-assistance
              -_ .-..-.__....”to poor performers
                           ..-.-_~-                                             104,158             78       19,272             14         10,554         8
InitiatinQ/ proDosina Derformance actions                                        96,817             76       18,354             14         11,471         9


                                                       Generally, supervisors who either did not receive training or received
                                                       training they considered to be inadequate in these three areas were more
                                                       negative in their perceptions of (1) their authority to propose a perform-
                                                       ance action, (2) management support, and (3) their willingness to pro-
                                                       pose actions against poor performers. For example, about 34 percent of
                                                       the supervisors who did not receive training in the area of proposing
                                                       performance actions believed they lacked authority to take action
                                                       against unacceptable performers.2 Only about 17 percent of the supervi-
                                                       sors who received training believed they lacked authority.



                                                       2The sampling error for this estimate is greater than 6 percent. See appendix VI.



                                                       Page 40                                                  GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
Chaptur 4
Management Commitment b Needed to
Enhance Efforb to Deal With
Poor Performers




instances of reluctance to propose performance actions against unac-
ceptable performers because they perceived a lack of authority and
inadequate management support.

Identifying and dealing with poor performers involves subjective judg-
ment. Thus, there are no simple solutions to the questions of how to
better motivate managers and supervisors to identify poor performers
or how to make it easier to deal with those performers. Some of the
obstacles cited by supervisors, such as a perceived lack of authority,
may lend themselves to such prescriptive solutions as additional
training. But solutions to other obstacles, such as the perceived lack of
management support or the amount of time involved, are more complex.
In fact, given human nature, well-intended prescriptive actions could
provide unintended results. For example, supervisors who find it diffi-
cult to confront poor performers because they do not want to engage in
adversarial situations might simply stop doing it altogether if additional
reporting requirements were imposed that they considered to be
unreasonable.

Individual motivation is a key factor regarding the extent to which
supervisors deal with poor performers. Thus, it is important for man-
agement to create an environment within which supervisors are
encouraged and motivated to identify poor performers and supported
when they try to deal with them. Toward that end, options 3 and 4,
which we discussed in chapter 2, offer the potential for eliminating
some of the frustration supervisors experience in dealing with their min-
imally successful performers. These proposals could provide some incen-
tive for such employees to improve their performance and make it easier
forsupervisors to deal with them.

Other actions that could provide a more positive environment for super-
visors include more definitive and visible involvement and oversight on
the part of agency top management and increased training and technical
assistance. By making the commitment and becoming more actively
involved, management could more clearly demonstrate its interest in
helping supervisors identify and deal with their poor performers. Over-
sight would enable management to identify areas in which further
training and support are needed and help to ensure that the process
requirements do not result in supervisors spending more time than war-
ranted in dealing with poor performers. Finally, through training and
technical assistance, management could help supervisors more clearly
understand their authority and assist them in developing better stan-
dards for assessing performance.


Page 43                                   GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                  Chapter 4
                  Management Commitment Is Needed to
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                  Poor Performers




                  defined (clear and specific) and that supervisors need methods of col-
                  lecting and reviewing employee performance that are not labor inten-
                  sive. He pointed out that if the above conditions are no&et, it is most
                  difficult for the supervisor to do his or her job.
              l   A non-numeric standard required an employee to implement Equal
                  Employment Opportunity/Affirmative        Action Program objectives at the
                  first line supervisory level. According to the supervisor, the problem
                  with this standard is that it is too vague. Also, the actions required are
                  beyond the authority of the ratee to implement.

                  Through oversight, management could take an active interest in identi-
                  fying such standards and working with supervisors and employees to
                  improve them. Oversight is particularly important in situations where
                  agencies use generic standards that are written to cover all employees
                  who occupy a particular type of job. Because of the general applicability
                  of such standards, it would be difficult for supervisors to initiate action
                  to improve them without management interest and cooperation.

                  Oversight would also be useful in managing the time period over which
                  supervisors deal with their poor performers. As we pointed out previ-
                  ously, the process for dealing with poor performers usually begins with
                  informal counseling and closer supervision and proceeds to a formal
                  written notice of an opportunity to improve if the informal process is
                  not successful in improving performance. Neither the formal nor the
                  informal processes were monitored by management at the locations we
                  visited to assess the progress employees were making or the problems
                  supervisors were having in dealing with them. The lengthy time of some
                  of the poor performance cases identified in this report strongly suggests
                  that increased management oversight is needed and that progress in
                  dealing with poor performers should be periodically reviewed.


                  The process for identifying and dealing with poor performers has been
Conclusions       used to improve many employees’ performance or to take various other
                  performance actions. However, a significant number of supervisors
                  either have not dealt with their poor performers or said they would not
                  deal with them in the future. In addition, approximately 61 percent of
                  the supervisors reported that they experienced difficulties in imple-
                  menting the process for dealing with poor performers. Performance
                  standards can be difficult to use in identifying poor performance; the
                  process can also be very time consuming. Further, supervisors reported




                  Page 42                                   GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                        Chapter 4
                        Management Commitment L Needed to
                        l3nhani!o EffOrta to D?a.l with
                        Poor Penformer




                      . giving more attention to working with supervisors and employees to
                        develop and maintain good performance standards; and
                      . ensuring that managers and supervisors are aware that they have the
                        authority to take performance actions against unacceptable performers.

                        Additionally, we recommend that OPMrequire agencies to establish
                        methods and procedures for overseeing how well poor performers are
                        being identified and dealt with,,Oversight is important in assessing
                        supervisors’ performance in dealing with these individuals, identifying
                        other problems in need of management attention, and helping ensure
                        that the time involved in dealing with individual poor performance
                        cases does not become unreasonable. In making this assessment, agen-
                        cies should periodically check the progress being made in dealing with
                        persons who have been identified as poor performers.



Agency Comments and
Our Evaluation

Comments From OPM       OPMagreed with our recommendations and cited a number of actions
                        that, if fully implemented, should improve the ability of supervisors to
                        identify and deal with their poor performers.

                        OPMsaid that it plans to issue memoranda to heads of departments and
                        agencies and directors of personnel urging them and their top managers
                        to make effective performance management a high priority. It also is
                        revising its guide for managers, entitled “Taking Actions on the Problem
                        Employee,” and said that the revised guide will place additional
                        emphasis on dealing with poor performers.

                        OPMalso agreed that it should assist agencies in providing the training
                        and technical assistance necessary to effectively deal with poor per-
                        formers and expressed the view that the preparation of a specialized
                        course on dealing with poor performers could lead to a marked improve-
                        ment in supervisors’ skills and confidence in this area.

                        OPMalso concurred in the need for effective monitoring of performance
                        management activities within agencies. It said that agencies are required
                        to periodically evaluate the effectiveness of their performance manage-
                        ment systems and that identifying and dealing with poor performers is



                        Page 46                                  GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
                          chapter 4
                          Management Caxnmitment h Needed to
                          J3nluanceEfforta to Deal With
                          Poor Performers




                          How much time should be spent in dealing with poor performers? This is
                          a difficult question and can vary given individual circumstances. As
                          noted earlier, supervisors usually begin to deal with a poor performer
                          by providing informal counseling and supervision before proceeding to a
                          formal opportunity period. Because employees who are given a formal
                          opportunity period must be told how much time they will be given to
                          improve their performance, management should use this time frame as a
                          basis for assessing progress. However, making such assessments in
                          informal situations will be more difficult. At a minimum, management
                          should stress to supervisors the importance of using milestones even
                          when they are working informally with their employees.

                          A final issue we identified was the supervisors’ concern about the
                          appeal and arbitration processes. Many perceived these processes to be
                          cumbersome, complex, lengthy, and slanted too much in favor of the
                          poor performer. Because an assessment of these processes was outside
                          the scope of our review, we cannot judge the validity of the supervisors’
                          perceptions on this issue. We can only note that this issue is particularly
                          complex in that it involves balancing employee and management rights.
                          The ultimate answer to the supervisors’ perceptions may rest with a
                          determination by the executive branch and Congress as to whether the
                          present balance is proper.


                          Within the area of performance management, OPMis responsible for pro-
Recommendationsto         viding personnel leadership to federal agencies. Accordingly, we recom-
the Director of OPM       mend that the Director of OPMstress the need for a greater commitment
                          and more visible involvement from top managers in identifying and
                          dealing with poor performers. ,$‘op management commitment and
                          involvement will show managers and supervisors that the identification
                          and resolution of performance problems are important, are matters of
                          great concern, and that upper management supports the effort.

                          We’also recommend that OPMassist federal agencies in demonstrating
                          this commitment by ensuring that all agencies provide periodic training
                          and the necessary technical assistance to adequately prepare managers
                          and supervisors to identify and deal with poor performers. The training
                          should focus on

                      l   making clear, to managers and supervisors at all levels, the policies and
                          objectives regarding the identification and resolution of employee per-
                          formance problems;



                          Page 44                                   GAO/GGDSl-7 Performance Management
chapter4
Mnmtgemant Chdtment       Is Needed k,
Enhance Efforts to Deal With
Poor Performerr




cause as will promote the efficiency of the service,” a requirement not
specified in chapter 43. Finally, the agency must be prepared to justify
its choice of sanction in light of existing mitigating and aggravating fac-
tors. No similar requirement exists for chapter 43 actions.

The National Treasury Employees Union also did not believe legislation
was needed to deal with minimally successful performers. It suggested
requiring agencies to establish written performance standards at all
levels of performance as opposed to only the fully successful level.
While such action could possibly help supervisors identify poor per-
formers, we do not believe it would directly address supervisors’
problems in dealing with poor performers after they have been identi-
fied. Because this latter problem is the focus of our attention in
presenting the third and fourth options, we continue to believe they are
appropriate.




Page 47                                   GAO/GGBI)l-7 Performance Management
                        Chapter 4
                        Management Commitment Ie Needed to
                        Enhance Eff~rta ta Deal With
                        Poor Performers




                        an aspect of performance management. It also identified a number of
                        activities it has undertaken to assist agencies in carrying out this task.

                        A more detailed discussion of OPM'Scomments is included in appendix I.


Comments From Federal   Three federal employee unions expressed general agreement with the
Employee Unions         information contained in our report. (See apps. VII, VIII, and IX.) How-
                        ever, the National Federation of Federal Employees expressed concern
                        with our position on minimally successful performers, pointing out that
                        because their performance was not unacceptable, such employees were
                        performing successfully. The union also questioned whether denial of
                        annual pay increases could serve as incentive for performance improve-
                        ment, and said that minimally successful performers could, in fact, be
                        fired.

                        We considered poor performers to be employees who were performing
                        below the fully successful level. Looking at this issue from the tax-
                        payer’s point of view, we believe that the fully successful level is the
                        minimum level of performance federal agencies should accept, and
                        therefore disagree with the National Federation of Federal Employees
                        on the acceptability of minimally successful performance. Our view is
                        supported by the options available for dealing with minimally successful
                        performance under SESand PMRSsystems.

                        With regard to denial of within-grade increases, our concern was that
                        employees who have been in grade for longer periods of time do not
                        receive within-grade increases every year. It was our view that denying
                        within-grade increases would provide little incentive if the employee
                        was not scheduled to receive one. Perhaps the union is right in saying
                        that denial of annual pay increases would be no more effective. But at
                        least under that situation, minimally successful performers would not
                        receive pay that was comparable to those who performed at the fully
                        successful level or above.

                        Finally, while it is true that chapter 75 of title 5 of the U.S. Code, which
                        generally governs disciplinary actions, can be used in some circum-
                        stances to reduce in grade or remove poorly performing employees, the
                        requirements are far more administratively burdensome on agencies
                        than performance-based actions governed by chapter 43 of the US.
                        Code were designed to be. An agency using chapter 76 procedures must
                        meet a higher standard of proof than that required under chapter 43.
                        The agency must also prove that the action is being taken “for such


                        Page 46                                    GAO/GGD-91-7 Pedormance Management
                          Appendix I
                          C!4mment9 From the Offke       of
                          Personnel Management




                      KEY ISSUES RELATED           TO RECOMMENDATIONS                  AND CONCLUSIONS


                 I.   Conclusions      and Recommendation             on Dealing   with Poor Performers


                 Clarification   of Anencv Flexibilitv        in Establishing the Minimallv   Successful




                 The report includes a discussion of possible options for dealing with poor
                 performers which culminates in four recommendations for Congressional
                 consideration. (Reference pages 41-W               When discuaeing poor performers, the
                 report refers to two categories of employees: minimally successful and
                 unacceptable performers.


See comment 1.   Moet of the iesuee raised in the report revolve around perceived difficulties in
                 dealing with the minimally eucceseful performer. In thie respect, there appear6 to
                 be a misconception underlying some of the report’s statements and conclusions
                 regarding whether agencies must establish a performance rating level of minimally
                 eucceeaful in their performance appraisal plane. Prior to addressing the report’s
                 recommendations on dealing with poor performers, we want to clarify that OPM
                 regulations, at 6 CFR Part 430.204(h), require only that agencies muet establish
                 k     summary performance rating levels, including a level between fully successful
                 and unacceptable for employeee in the General Schedule and Prevailing Rate
                 categories. The regulations aleo give agenciee certain discretion in establiehing the
                 number of rating levels for individual           critical performance elements. Although
                 agencies must provide for @ least three rating levels for each critical performance

                                                                     1




                          Page 49                                                  GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
Appendix    I

CommentsFrom the Office of
PersonnelManagement

Note: GAO comments
supplementing those in the
report text appear at the
                                                                  UNITED     STATES
end of this appendix.
                                                      OFFICE   OF PERSONNEL        MANAGEMENT
                                                               WA~“,NOTOI.    D.C. 10.1 B




                             Richard L. Fogel
                             A&&ant Comptroller General
                             General Accounting Office
                             Waehington, DC. 20648
                             Dear Mr. Fogel:


                             In reeponseto your recent request, I am forwarding the Office of Personnel Management’s
                             (OPM) comme$a on the draft Geyeral Accounting Office (G+O) report entitled,
                             performance anaeement; How Well 18 the Government DeahnP:mth Poor Performers.
                             I would like to commend GAO for undertaking a broad-gauged study on this difficult but
                             important topic. The information contained in the report will be very helpful to agencies
                             and OPM in understanding better the challenging issues and problems faced by managers
                             and eupervieore in dealing with poor performers in the Federal workforce. Also useful
                             wan the discussion of the draft report between Bernard Ungar and Directors of Personnel
                             held recently at OPM.          I am confident that the information, analysis and
                             recommendations in the report will stimulate and support a variety of meaeures to
                             strengthen the ability of supervisors to identify and deal with poor performers effectively.
                             Our ~pecillc commenta on the draft report are grouped into two mGor categories:
                             comments relating to the report’s key conclusions and recommendations end comments
                             dealing with technical aspects of the report’s underlying assumptions, characterizations
                             end findinga. These comments are contained in the enclosed material. Questions
                             concerning the comments may be directed to Allan D. Heuerxnan of OPM’s Personnel
                             Syrtsme and Oversight Group on (202) 606-2910.
                             We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the report.
                                                                        Sincerely,


                                                                        LLtiL!zSNb
                                                                        Director
                             Encloeure




                                     Page 48                                                GAO/GGD91-7Performance Management
                         Comments From the OffIce of
                         Personnel Management




                unacceptable. Further, such activity would not require action by Congress as
                implied by the later section entitled,   “Matters for Congressional Consideration.”
                OPM would also like to point out that agencies currently have the ability to revise
                standards to reflect performance requirements more accurately.       Further, OPM
                believes that establishing and revieing fair and defensible performance standards
                must be done on a case-by-case basis and relate to performance expectations and
                mission requirements and not as a response to a general admonition to upgrade
                performance requirements.     Accordingly, OPM suggests that option one be
                reconsidered.




See comment 3   The second option recommends eliminating the minimally successful rating category
                either through law or regulatory action. As pointed out above, agencies, through
                the design of their performance appraisal systema, already may choose to do this
                with respect to rating levels on individual       performance elements. Only OPM’s
                regulation requiring agency performance appraisal systems to provide for a
                minimally successful summary performance rating level would have to be changed
                to support this option. Although OPM will consider this recommendation, we
                would prefer a closely related legislative approach, eimilar to that recently enacted
                for Performance Management and Recognition System (PMRS) employees (P.L. 101.
                103, the Performance Management and Recognition System Reauthorization Act),
                which preserves agency flexibility   to rate employeee at three to five different levels
                on individual   performance elemente, and which allows performance-based reduction
                in grade and removal actions to be initiated solely on the basis of determining that
                an employee% performance falls below the fully succeseful level for one or more

                                                              3




                        Page 61                                             GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
                         Appendix I
                         Canmentrr From the Off&e of
                         Personnel Menagement




                 element, including a description at the filly     successful level (5 CFR 430.204(e),
                 there Is no requirement to establish a minimally successful performance level for
                 individual   elements.


                 Many   agencies have used this flexibility   and have established performance
                 appraisal systems which provide for only three ratings levels on individual
                 performance elements. These syetems do not utilize the minimally successful
                 rating level on individual    performance elements. The only level of performance
                 below fully successful in these systems is unacceptable. Thus, for agencies who
                 have three rating level eysteme (for individual     performance elements), personnel
                 actione to reduce in grade or remove employees may be initiated when an
                 employee’s performance is determined to be at the unacceptable level on one or
                 more critical performance elements, irrespective of the employee’s summary
                 performance rating.      (Note that 5 CFR 0432.104 provides for talcing reduction-in-
                 grade and removal actions based on unacceptable performance in one or more
                 critical elements)




See comment 2.   With this flexibility    in mind, we find that the first option, which would encourage
                 agencies to change employees’ individual     performance standards so that current
                 minimally successful performance would be considered unacceptable performance, is
                 not effectively precluded or limited by OPM regulation as the discussion implies.
                 That is, by eliminating the standard of minimally successful, an agency gains the
                 ability to determine that performance below the fully successful level is

                                                              2




                         Page 50                                            GAO/GGD91-7 Perf’onnance Management
.

            Appendix I
            Cammentn Fxnm the Office of
            Personnel Management




    Option 4
    The fourth option addresses the possibility of amending the Civil Service Reform
    Act of 1978 to allow for reduction-in-grade and removal actions based on minimally
    successful performance by a GS or WG employee. While this approach directly
    addresses the minimally aucceaeful issue, we would suggest an alternative
    approach. Specifically, combine the flexibility     agencies now have to eliminate the
    minimally successful level for individual    elements (see discussion on pages 1 and 2)
    with the authority for agencies to initiate performance based actions on the basis
    of determining that the employee ie not performing at the fully successful level.
    Thie approach would give agencies the same flexibility       with respect to non-PMRS
    employees that they now have with respect to PMRS employees, i.e., to eliminate,
    or retain, the minimally successful performance level and to initiate an action
    based on a determination that performance is below the fully successful level,
    without needing to assign either an unacceptable or minimally successful rating.
    It should be pointed out that this approach should also contain the provision, aa is
    the case with the PMRS system, that agencies must provide employees performing
    below the fully successful level with an opportunity to correct their deficiencies
    through a performance improvement plan (PIP) prior to a determination being
    made on whether or not to propose a removal or reduction in grade action.


    This approach should help deal with chronically poor performers as intended by
    option 4, preserve agency flexibility   in deeigning performance appraisal systems,
    and avoid the difficulty of “selling” a legislative change which would permit
    management action against an employee who received a rating that indicates
    “successful” performance (as in “minimally       successful”). In further support of this

                                                 6




            Page 53                                              GAO/GGD91-7 PerPormance Management
        Appendix I
        Comments Prom the Omce of
        Personnel Management




critical elements.      This differs from the non-PMRS law and regulations which
require a determination that the employee’s performance is unacceptable in one or
more critical elements. Thie difference in the kind of determination required - that
the performance ie pnacceotable for non-PMRS employees vs, that the performance
is below fullv eucceseful for PMRS employees - can be a substantive one where
agenciee have five level systems, including minimally satisfactory.


OPM supported the revision to the PMRS system and has recently issued
regulations, at 6 CFR Parts 430 and 432, implementing the new provisions of law
relating to actions based on below fully successful performance. This approach
preserve6 flexibility   and permits agenciee to take timely action in dealing with poor
performers. It also closely relates to GAO’s option number four discussed on page
43 of the report, (See also our comments below on option 4.)


Ontion 3
The third option recommends the enactment of legislation which would more
closely link pay to performance for GS and WG employees. OPM does, of course,
eupport this type of approach and, aa the report recognizes, the Administration    has
a Pay Reform bill currently pending before Congress which includes provisions for
denying baeic pay increases to employees who are performing below the fully
euccessful level. However, as the diecussion in the report points out, meaBure8 of
thie nature will not completely address the types of problems identified by
supervisor-e and managers in dealing with poor performers, especially those
employee8 who are chronically marginal performers.



                                            4




        Page 62                                           GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
       Appendix I
       Commenta From the Office of
       Pen9onnel Management




high priority and to apply the flexibilitiee       in the current government-wide syetem
in ways that recognize and reward good performers and take appropriate actions to
deal with poor performers. Further, we are revising and updating a very ueeful
and popular guide for managers (‘Taking Action on the Problem Employee”)
dealing with employees with conduct and performance deficiencies. The revised
guide will place additional emphasis on dealing with poor performers. Finally,
OPM has recently released a draft FPM Chapter 432, “Performance Based
Reduction in Grade and Removal Actions,” to agencies and major unions for review
and comment. This FPM material includes extensive guidance on identifying and
dealing with poor performers.




      Second Recommendation


We aleo support the second GAO recommendation, which calls for OPM to assist
agenciee in providing periodic management and supervisory training, aa well as the

needed technical assistance in dealing effectively with poor performers. While we
believe that the focus of training and technical assistance should encompass the
full range of performance management skills and techniques, we can see the
possibility that a specialized course on dealing with poor performers could lead to
a marked improvement in supervisors’ skills and confidence in this particular area.


OPM’s regulations at 5 C.F.R 430.208 require that “agencies must provide
appropriate training and information to supervisors and employees on the appraisal
process.” The appraisal process, ae described at C.F.R. 430.204 (i) and (i), includes

                                               7




       Page 66                                                GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
       API--     1
       Cwunen~PmmtheOfficeof
       Personnel Management




approach, agencies, to OPM’s knowledge, have not experienced any diiYiculties in
implementing the revised job retention provisions of the new PMRS legislation.


II.   Recommendations       to the Director       of OPM
Chapters 3 and 4 provide a discussion of supervisory and managerial perceptions
of the procedural difIiculties involved in dealing with the poor performers as well
as the management initiatives     which could help ease some of these dif3culties.
Included in the discussions are recommendations for OPM action, The following
comments address these recommendations.


       &ret Recommendation


The first recommendation is that OPM be more active in stressing the need for top
agency management to become more visibly involved and to make a greater
commitment to identifying    and dealing with poor performers effectively.      We agree
with this recommendation, particularly    in light of the results of the study which
indicate that, in many cases, supervisors do not feel that they have management’s
support or sui?icient authority to initiate or take performance-based actions. OPM
has several current initiatives   underway which should contribute to this objective,
including commissioning a major study by the National Academy of Sciences to
examine successful performance appraisal systems and techniques in the private
sector which can be applied in the Federal system to manage and measure
employee performance more effectively,        In addition, OPM plans to issue
memoranda to heads of departments and agencies and Directors of Personnel
urging them and their top managers to make effective performance management a

                                              6




        Page 64                                            GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
.

            Appendix 1
            Comments From the Offlce of
            Personnel Management




            Third Recommendation


    The final recommendation is that OPM require agencies to eetablish methods and
    procedures for overseeing how well poor performers are being identified and dealt
    with.   We concur with the need for effective monitoring of performance
    management activities within agencies. Again, we believe that OPM’s regulations
    at 6 C.F.R. 430.208 establish such a requirement, i.e., agencies “must establish
    methods and procedures to evaluate periodically the effectiveness of the system(s)
    and to implement improvements as needed.” In our view, this requirement
    necessarily encompasses the evaluation of how well agencies identify and deal with
    poor performers, including whether there is timely identification   of and feedback to
    employees with performance problems, and whether agency action is tak.en as
    appropriate to deal with poor performers.


    Agency systems developed in accordance with statutory and regulatory
    requirements are reviewed by OPM to ensure that each such system meets all
    requirements.     In addition, OPM has issued FPM guidance providing information
    and possible methods for evaluating all aspects of performance appraisal systems.
    Further, OPM has several activities underway aimed at enhancing the evaluation
    and oversight of Federal personnel management programs, including efforts to
    assist agencies in improving their internal oversight programs. Among thase
    activities is a recent project coordinated by CPM’s Agency Compliance and
    Evaluation (ACE) office which involved a review of agency performance
    management systems. ACE has produced a draft report entitled.         “OPM

                                                9




            Page 57                                         GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
       Appendix I
       Comments From the Office of
       Personnel Management




supervieory assistance to improve employees’ substandard performance, and taking
appropriate personnel actions when employees’ performance continues to be
unacceptable. It is our expectation that agencies understand the importance of
complying with OPM’s regulatory requirements, but OPM may need to increase its
efforts to encourage and assist agencies in seeing that this type of training is
provided to their managers and supervisors.


OPM’s nationwide training program includes several courses on dealing with
problem employees, e.g., “Performance Management:      Coaching and Appraisal,”
Performance Management:     Individual   Performance Planning,” and “Supervising
Performance, Conduct and Leave.” Alao, OPM currently is engaged in an extensive
review and “overhaul” of its training curriculum in key personnel management
areas, including that of performance management. As part of this review, OPM
will consider the benefits of adding a course which has as its primary objective the
improvement of super-v&ore practical skills in dealing with poor performers.
Finally, OPM will consider recommending to agencies that training and information
on the appraisal process be offered on a recurring basis to help ensure that
supervisors and managers keep their skills up to date and recognize the
importance of proper implementation of the performance appraisal system.




                                           8




       Page 56                                          GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
               Appendix I
               Comment43 From the Offlce   of
               Pernonnel Management




               The following are GAO'Scomments on OPM'Sletter dated July 23, 1990.


               1. We revised the wording on pp. 2, 13, 22, 24, and 28 to more clearly
GAO Comments   show that OPMrequires agencies to establish the minimally successful
               rating category for summary performance ratings and that agencies
               have discretion in the number of rating levels they establish for indi-
               vidual job tasks. It should also be noted that although agencies do have
               the flexibility to use only 3 rating levels for individual job tasks, 4 of the
               10 agencies we visited used 5.

               As pointed out by OPM,agencies may initiate personnel actions when an
               employee’s performance is determined to be at the unacceptable level
               for one or more critical elements, regardless of the employee’s summary
               rating. This does not, however, eliminate problems supervisors experi-
               ence in dealing with employees who are viewed as performing at the
               minimally successful versus unacceptable level.

               2. We have clarified our discussion of option one so as not to imply that
               changing performance standards would be precluded by OPMregulation.
               As we pointed out in the report, option one does not appear to offer a
               complete solution, because even if the standards were made more strin-
               gent, there would still be employees who would perform at the mini-
               mally successful level. Like OPM,we view other options as offering better
               solutions to the problem.

               3. As previously noted, we have revised the report to address agencies’
               flexibility with respect to establishing rating levels for individual job
               tasks. This, however, does not eliminate the problem. While the mini-
               mally successful rating category could be eliminated, the type of per-
               formance it identifies would remain.




               Page 69                                    GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
        Appendix I
        Conunenta FroIll the Offlce of
        PeraoamelManagement




Government-Wide Review: Performance Management Systems at Federal
Installations.”   This study involved many aspects of performance management,such
aa training for super&ore and employees, as well aa documentation and eupport
for performance-baaed actions taken by agencies. The draft report ie currently
undergoing internal OPM clearance.


ACE also has undertaken several projects involving the evaluation of agencies’
abilities to monitor the effectiveness of their performance management syetema. In
February 1989, ACE published a “Survey of Agency Personnel Management
Evaluation Programs,” which contains an assessment of all areas of coverage by
agencies’ internal Personnel Management Evaluation (PME) programs, including
performance management. As a result of that survey and its recommendations,
OPM has established three interagency task forces whoee purpose ie to enhance
agency oversight capabilitiee by (1) developing guidelines for agencies’ internal
PME programs; (2) developing and exchanging ADP re8ourcea for PME; and (3)
developing PME guidance for small agencies.


Finally, OPM will continue to produce the “Annual Report to the President and the
Congress on the Effectiveness of the Performance Management and Recognition
System.”    The fir& three reports provide a broad range of information concerning
the effectiveness of the system with regard to quality of performance standards
and elements, perception of equity, inflation of ratings, training, and agency efforta
to improve effectiveness. A fourth report is now in preparation.




                                          10




       Page 58                                          GAO/GGD-@l-7Performance Management
Appendix III

FederalAgenciesRepresentedin
Our Questionnaire

               Department of the Air Force
               Department of the Army
               Department of Commerce
               Department of Defense
               Department of Education
               Department of Energy
               Department of Health and Human Services
               Department of Interior
               Department of Justice
               Department of the Navy
               Department of the Treasury
               Department of Transportation
               Department of Veterans Affairs
               Federal Communications Commission
               Federal Home Loan Bank Board
               Federal Trade Commission
               General Services Administration
               Interstate Commerce Commission
               National Aeronautics and Space Administration
               National Labor Relations Board
               National Mediation Board
               National Science Foundation
               National Archives and Records Administration
               Office of Personnel Management
               Securities and Exchange Commission
               Small Business Administration
               Smithsonian Institution
               United States Information Agency




               Page 61                                 GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
Appendix   II

Imations Visited During Our Review


                Federal agencies                                                   Location
                Forest Service
                  Regional Office                                                  Denver, CO
                  Regional Office                                                  San Francisco, CA


                                                                                   Ogden, UT
                   San Antonio Air Logistics Center
                      Kellv Air Force Base                                         San Antonio. TX
                Environmental Protection Agency
                   Headquarters                                                    Washington, DC
                   Regional Office                                                 Atlanta, GA
                General Services Administration
                   National Capital Region                                         Washington, DC
                   Regional Office                                                 Atlanta, GA
                Department of Housing and Urban Development
                   Headquarters                                                    Washington, DC
                   Regional Office                                                 Denver, CO
                Department of Labor
                   Regional Office                                                 Atlanta, GA
                   Regional Office                                                 Denver, CO
                National Aeronautics and Space Administration
                   Goddard Space Fli ht Center                                     Greenbelt, MD
                   Langley Research 8 enter                                        Hampton, VA
                Federal Aviation Administration
                   Headquarters                                                    Washington, DC
                   Southern Region                                                 Atlanta, GA
                Internal Revenue Service
                   District Office                                                 Atlanta, GA
                   Service Center                                                  Atlanta, GA
                Department of Veterans Affairs
                   Medical Center                                                  Richmond, VA
                   Medical Center                                                  Augusta, GA
                State governments
                Commonwealth of Virginia                                           Richmond, VA
                State of Georgia                                                   Atlanta, GA
                State of Colorado                                                  Denver, CO
                Local governments
                City of Virginia Beach                                             Virginia Beach, VA
                City of Atlanta                                                    Atlanta, GA
                Citv of Denver                                                     Denver, CO
                Private corporations
                Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Virginia                             Richmond, VA
                Philip Morris U.S.A.                                               Richmond, VA
                Humana, Inc.                                                       Virginia Beach, VA
                Sovran Financial Corporation                                       Norfolk, VA
                E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Inc.                          Richmond, VA
                Norfolk Southern Corporation                                       Atlanta, GA
                Weyerhaeuser Paper Company                                         Plymouth, NC
                Martin Marietta Corporation                                        Denver, CO
                $asa;rsoebuck,    and Company                                      Denver, CO
                                                                                   Denver, CO
                Delta Air Lines, Inc.                                              Atlanta, GA
                Coca-Cola USA                                                      Atlanta, GA




                Page 60                                         GAO/GGD-91-7 Perfo-ce     Management
                          Amwdix N
                          Qlleetlonnatrebed ln our Review




1. -                                                                                      II.        eERFORMAnCE..STAnDARDS

1.   How long hsvs VU hsld the specific                                        job        6.    Do the Porformsnc.               plsn. of the l mploysss
     sssignmsnt  thst YOU currsntly held?                                                       thst      YOU dirrctlv                     contsin
     (CHECK ONE.1                                                                  ,.I          rtsndsrds        thst    l rs GW@&C& Ci.s.,         stsndsrdr
                                                                                                usins       numb.r.,      porcont....,     ste.),
     WI         wSPseific    lob ..signm.nt”                        is                          e                    (is*., rt.nd.rds        using
                dsfinsd    by your e                             m.n.g.m.nt/                    d..triPtiv.          words rather      than number.         or
                wp~rvioar~      duti.8   bnd                   r..pan.ibiliti.s.                p.rc.ntag.s).           or . w                   of numeric
                                                                                                and non-num.ric            stsndsrds?      (CHECK ONE.)
     1.   t-1       Loss        thsn        6 months
                                                                                                                                                         ‘I,,
     2.   C-1       6 months            to     loss     th.n         1 YSS~                     1. C-1         Numeric       only
     3.   t-1       1 Vsar        to        1.8.      thsn     2 y..r.
                                                                                                2.     [,I   Non-numwic              only
     6.   t-1       2 yssrs            to    lsss      than      4 yearn
                                                                                                3.     C-1   Combinstion             of     both     tvp..
     5.   I-1       4 ysmrs            to    10~s      thsn     6 Y..ra
     6.   1-l       6 y..r.            or more

2.   How msny sm~lo~sss      do YOU e
     e.           thst   is.  do YOU e                                                               IF YOU DO m    USE
     prspsrs partormanc*      sppr.is.18                             for?                            NUMERIC STANDARDS
                                                                                                     (i..., NUMBERS,
                           (NUNBCR OF EMPLOYEES)                                ,141                 PERCENTAGES, ETC.)
                                                                                                     TO RATE EMPLOYEES
                                                                                                     YOU DIRECTLY
S. Since you b.cams l supsr~i~~r.                                    hsv.      YOU                   SUPERVISE _I_,                  (SKIP         TO QUESTION        10.:
   rscsivsd   trsinino        concsrnine                       th.
   psrformmcs       spprai8sl       procssst                         (CHECK ONE.)                    IF YOU USE NUMERIC
                                                                              11OP                   STANDARDS TO RATE
     1.   c-1       Y.8                                                                              EMPLOYEES YOU
                                                                                                     DIRECTLY SUPERVISE 3                    (CONTINUE        WITH
     2.   t-1       No                                                                                                                        QUESTION        7. J


4.   Sines you bscsm.              s supsrvi.or.  hsvs YOU
     rscsivsd   trsining            on how to dssl with                                  7.     In g.n.r.1,    how l d.qu.ta        or insd.qu.t.         srs
     poor psrformwml                (CHECK ONE.)        ,,I,                                    ths e          p.rform.nc.        ot.ndsrds        th.t   you
                                                                                                u.s to msssur.       psrformsncs.       specifically
     1.   t-1       Yss    (CONTINUE                WITH QUESTION               5.1             in terms of idsntifying           sm.loyss.        who srs
                                                                                                psrforming  st 1.~8 th.n          th. “fully
     2.   t-1       No     (SKIP            TO QUESTION              6.1                        succ*..ful”    l.v.11       (CHECK ONE.)                4”)

5.   Did this       trsinin.            . ..cific.lly  c0v.r th.                                1.    t-1    Mar.      th.n      .d.qu.t.
     followin.        s8.sct.T              (CWECK ALL THAT APPLY.)
                                                               au-UI                            2.    C-1    Adsqust.
     1.   C-1       How to        u..        psrformsncs              .t.nd.rds
                                                                                                3.    C-1    Neither          .d.qust.        nor     insd8su.t.
     2.   t,    I   How to ..sist       .m.loy.ss      in
                    improvins     their    psrformsncs                                          4.    c-1    1nsd.qu.t.

     S.   I-1       Ths procs.8               for proposing/                                    5.    C-1    Very      inad.quat.
                    initistin.               psrformsncs     action8

     4.   t-1       Coun..lling               wn~lov~m

     5.   t-1       Th.    .pP..ls/.rbitr.tion                             proes.8




                         Page     33                                                                           GAO/GGD-91-7                 Performance            Management
Appendix IV

QuestionrAre Used in Our Review



                                                                      U.S.     GENERAL ACCOUNTINO OFFICE
                                                                             Washington, D.C.   20548



                                                                                                        Y OF m

              The U.S. Oanaral          Accounting       Office      (GAO).     an        Because      this    quastionnaira     is being       sent   to
              PVO”CY of Congrsss,           is conducting          e survey     to        ruparvisors          in     swwal   fadoral    agencies.     we
              obtain     your opinions        and information           on YOUI-          era providing           definitions      to   describe     the
              axpariences       as a managw/mupervi+or                   of    GM,        threa     levels     of performance      that we are using
              GS,     and FWS employees.             Specifically.        we are          in this      questionnairel
              interested      in issues       related        to    performance
              man*q*mant      functions.
                                                                                          Fullv    w                - This is the expected       level
              The questions            deal primarily          with   supervisory                                     of performance.
              responsibilities             in identifying           poor psrform-                                     UI         EPA uses the term
              WS, that          is.    amplowas        who    did not meet         the                                “satisfactory”.
              “fully      successful”          level     of   their   performance
              standards         during     fiscal      war      1988.     Questions
              apa also        included       which ask        about    the actions
              raquirad       whan dealing           with      these      poor    Per-     B                - This is the level             of performance
              formars.                                                                                       between      “fully      succersfuln         and
                                                                                                             ‘unscceptable’.             Your .q.ncy         may
              Please      respond     to each of the following                 qua-                          use other        tarms such as marginal,
              tions       as    they      relate      to the employees           that                        mar9inally         successful,       minimally
              YOU m                                  and for whom YOU at-0                                   l ccwtabla.         minimally       satisfactory,
              rosponsiblo             for          w                                                         or Partially          successful.
              m.                  Your responses              will     be treated
              m.                            They      will     be combined       with
              others      and raportad           only       in     summary     form.      !&wcePtrhl,        - This is the lrvol          at which
              The      qurmtiannaire          is numbered          only to mid us                              pwformenco        doas not meet
              in our follow-up            efforts,        since     it   might      be                         astsblishmd       “fully     successful”
              necessary         for u* to contact              you to clarify         a                        parformanca      standards       in one
              Particular        r.spons..          Such contacts         will      not                         or more critic.31        *laments.
              affect      tha confidwtiality                of YOUP reoponre.                                  WI       EPA and NASA US. tha
                                                                                                               tat-m “unsatisfactory”.
              The quastionnsirm       should    take only    about                   20
              to    JO minutes      to complete.       If YOU have                 .ny
              questions.     please     call    Mr.    Jim  Bishop                   on
              (FTS) 827-6621       or (804)   441-6621.

              Pleasa   return    the completed     questionnaire          in
              the anclosad     pro-addressed      ~nvelopa     within     10
              days of receipt.         In the avant      thm     envelope
              is misplaced,      thm raturn    address     is1

                       U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
                       Norfolk  Regional     Office
                       Mr. Jim Eishop
                       5705 Thurston     Avenue
                       Virginia   Beach,    VA 23455

              Thank    YOU for       your        help.




                                 Page       62                                                              GAO/GGDSl-7           Performance        Management
    .

0                              Appendix IV
                               Qnestionnaire used in onr Review




        11    What typo(s)    of problems, if any, am                                               13.   If YOU had training     on using  pwformance
              you having   using m            performanea                                                 stmndards.    how l doqusfm or inadaquatm
              stendardrt    (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY.)       "o-11'                                          was that   twining?      (CHECK ONE.)        1w1

              1.    t-1        I AM NOT HAVIND PROBLEMS WITH                                              1.   t-1    DID NOT HAVE ANY TRAININQ  ON
                               v            PERFORMANCE STANDARDS                                                     USINQ PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

              2.    t-1        Thm standards        er.        uncl.sr                                    2.   t-1    War.     than     l dwwto

              3.    I-1        Tha standards        arm        too          easy        to   meet         3.   t-1    Adoquata

              4.    t-1        The standards        are        too          difficult                     4.   t-1    Neithw          adsquote    nor   inadequate
                               to moat
                                                                                                          5.   t-1    Inadoquats
              5.    I-1        It   is difficult        to measure      the
                               l mplov**'s       performance      against                                 6.   I-1    Vary     inmdaquato
                               tha non-numwic           strndards

              6.    [,I        0th.r    (Spacify)         _




        12.    Please    provide     an wmplm                 of   el
              pwformanco         standard   that              YOU  ra   l        having
              l   problem     with   and l xplsin              why it            is l
              problm.

              Non-numwic            performance      standard*                          I u-11,




              Why    it   is    . problmf




                               Page 66                                                                               GAO/GGD@l-7 Perfommnce Management
                 Appendix IV
                 Qnestlonmdre Used in Our Review




8.   What tyrm(m)    of w-oblomm,   if any, at-9
     you having   wing   w        o*rformanca
     l tandwda?    (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY.)      11*-#*1

     1.   t-1    I AM NOT NAVINQ PROBLEMS WITH
                 NUMeRIC PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

     2.   I-1    The standards           are     unclar
                                                                                             IF YOU USE NON-NUMERIC
                                                                                             STANDARDS TO RATE
     J.   t-1    Tha mtmndardr           arm     too      easy        to   maat
                                                                                             EMPLOYEES YOU
                                                                                             DIRECTLY SUPERVISE m                (CONTINUE    WITH
     4.   t-1    Tha standards           at-9    too      difficult
                                                                                                                                  QUESTION    10.)
                 to   meat

     5.   C-1    It is difficult        to measure      tha
                 bmployoe'o      porformanco      against
                                                                                  10.   In 44n4r41.   how mdaquata         or inad4quat4          ar4
                 the numw-ic      standards
                                                                                        tha w                performance       standards        that
                                                                                        you use to measure        perform*nca.       4p4cifically
     6.   C-1    Othw        (Spacifyl
                                                                                        in terms of id4ntifying          employees      who ara
                                                                                        performing  4t 1444 than thm “fully
                                                                                        successful”   14v4lt       (CHECK ONE.)                    410

9.   Pleas*   Provida     an example            of a nulnaric                           1.     I-1   More      than     adequate
     pwformmnco       standard   that           you are having
     4 probl4m    with    and wphin              why it is l                            2.     t-1   Adaquata
     problem.
                                                                                        3.     t-1   Nmithor          adequate     nor   inadequate
     Nunoric    pwformanca          standard,                         (u-2“
                                                                                        4.     C-1   Inadaqumt.

                                                                                        5.     t-1   Vwy       inadwuata




                 Page 94                                                                             GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                   Appendix IQ
                   Questlonnah Used in Our Review




                                                                                                                                              1
20.   For tho4.    .mploy..r    th4t you 4tt.mpted    to 44sist (so. Pu.otion 18), wh.t results
      wara 4shi4v.d      from th. proc.s4?      (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY AND FOR THOSE CHECKED,
      ENTER THE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES FOR WHOM THE RESULT WAS ACHIEVED.)

      WI         THE TOTAL NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES SHOULD EQUAL THE NUMBER ENTERED IN
                 PUESTION 18.


                   Employee's    p.rformanca     improved to
                   "fully   suec4saful"      .............................. /                                         /    (NUMBER)

                   Employ44  is curr4ntly      performing             et the
                   14s~ th4n “fully     succ4ssful"           10~41 and
                   i4 still  b4ino arsisted         . . . . . . . . . . ..I............                     /         /    (NUMBER)

                   P.rform.nc.       4ction      4gainst  employ44
                   form411y      proPo4.d      in writing   (include
                   chrng.      to low4r     prod4 or remov41)        ............... /                                /    (NUMBER)

                   Employ44         4gr44d       to      r4duction          in   grade   . ..I.......       /         /    (NUMBER)

                   Employ44         4gr44d       to      r444sicinment           ................. /                  /    (NUMBER)

                   Employ44         r44ign4d             .............................. /                             /    (NUMBER)

                   Employ44         r4tir4d         ................................ /                                /    (NUMBER)

                   0th.r      (P1.44.         sp.cify)

                                                                                                   -..      1         /    (NUMBER)

                                                                                                         .. /         /    (NUMBER)



21.   Con4id.r   th. .mount    of tin.    th.t you op.nd w44kly.      on th. werag..     providing
      4s4i.t.nc.    to .n 4mploy44     whos. p.rform.nc.      is 14~4 than "fully    succ4rsful".
      P14444 provid4     4" 4otin4t4    of the tin4      you sp4nd p4r w4ek.

                                   (NUMBER OF HOURS PER WEEK PER EMPLOYEE)                                            1”.911




22.   Durinp    fi4c41 y44r 1961, w.r.     th.r.    .ny ~44.5 wh.r.    emPloy.es     that     YOU
      ~stmervipLd             w4r4 performing       4t th4 144s th4n "fully       sufcsssful"        level
      .nd YOU did net .tt.mpt      to 4s4ist     th4m to imrwov4    their   parformance?          (CHECK ONE.)
                                                                                                           1-1
      1.   C-1     Y.4     (INDICATE          THE NUMBER OF CASES BELOW AND CONTINUE                            WITH QUESTION   23.1

                                         (NUMBER)                    ‘**I


      2.   t-1     No      (SKIP     TO QUESTION             25.1




                   Page 67                                                                               GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
                      Questionnaire bed in Our Bevievlr




III.    -TIN0               w       THAN "FULLY    SUCCESSFVL n


NOTEI       For tha ~ur~os.s         of this     section  W.           16.   For how long have thpsa employees        beon
            l ra darling      with   l rnplov~~s    that YOU                 parforming     at the “minimally  successful"
            baliwa      l ra pat-forming       at tha lass than              level?     (ENTER NUMBER(S) IN APPROPRIATE
            "fully    succ*risful"       l.v*l   ,t anv UlQg                 CATEGORIES.      TOTAL SHOULD EQUAL ENTRY
                                                                             IN QUESTION 15.)

                                                                                  TIME AT MINIMALLY                              NUMBER OF
                                                                                  S!!XFSSF'JL LEVEL                              EMPLOYEES
14.    During     fiscal     year 19ll8.   how mmy                           0 TO LESS THAN 6 MONTHS . ..a                       /                    /,,,,,,
       l mployoas      that   YOU &.~&,&runervisrd
       war. pwforming           at the less than “fully                      6 TO LESS THAN 12 MONTHS . . . /                                         I,~-.,,
       succassful"        lwel?      (ENTER NUMBER.
       IF NONE, ENTER ZERO "On.)                                             12 TO LESS THAN 24 MONTHS . . /                                          /,r.,,,

                                        (NUMBER)          '*'-*'             24 TO LESS THAN 36 MONTHS . * /411-s,,

                                                                             36 MONTHS OR MORE a.........                        //lS+,*,

       IF ZERO "0" IN GIUESTION 14,                SKIP       TO
       QUESTION 25.                                                    17.   During    fiscal    year 1988,   did you attempt
                                                                   I         to assist      tha employees   you identified
                                                                             in question       number 14 to improve      their
                                                                             performance?        (CHECK ONE.)                  tub
IS.    Wet-a l ny of tha l mployoas     that     YOU
       idantifiad    in question    14 as performing                         1.    t-1     'Yes (CONTINUE          WITH QUESTION                      18.)
       at the 1.8s than “fully       suecarrful"     leval
       pwformins     at the "m"                                              2.    t-1     No      (SKIP       TO QUESTION             22.1
       lsvml?     (CHECK ONE.)                          ,.,I

       1.       t-1    Yas      CENTER NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES AND         18.   How many of these              employees      did YOU
                                CONTINUE WITH PUESTION 16.1                  attempt to assist?               (ENTER      NUMBER.)

                                                                                                      (NUMBER)                ,‘,-"I


       2.       t-1    No       (SKIP     TO OUESTION   17.1           19.   What did YOU do to sssist these
                                                                             omploye~s?  (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY.)                                 II.-*II
                                                                             1.    t-1     Counseled          and worked             with       the
                                                                                           *mployea         informally
                                                                             2.    I-1     Increased           the smount of
                                                                                           supervision            for th* amplowe
                                                                             3.   C-1      Provided         on-the-job          training
                                                                             4.   C-1      Arranged          for the     employem               to
                                                                                           receive         training
                                                                             5.   C-1      Placed    the       employee     on a
                                                                                           performance          impravem*nt      Plan
                                                                             6.   C-1      Referred         the employee               to   a
                                                                                           caunsrling          service
                                                                             7.   t-1      Other      action      (Specify)




                      Page 60                                                            GAO/GGD@l-7 Performance Management
                               Appendix TV
                               Questionnahe Used in Our Review




25.   Tsking      into   consideration         your a(lenCY’S                                   27.   Minimslly      successful     l mployats    cannot
      procsdurss       for dealing        with     poor                                               be removed      or dmmotad.        Doao this    factor
      parformerm.        if you have a less than “fully                                               increpsa,      decraasa     or hsvm no l ffmct        on
      suce*9sful’        employma       in the future,        how                                     the likalihood        of daaling     with   .
      likely      or unlikely       would it be that          YOU                                     "minimally      successful”      l mployas?
      would attempt         to desl with         that    employee                                     (CHECK ONE.)                                       (“0
      using your l 9mcy’s             fwocaosl        (CHECK ONE.)
                                                                  l,Dl                                 1.    t-1      Greatly       incraose        likalihaod
      1.        t-1            Very
                                                                                                      2.     t-1      Increase        lik-lihood
      2.        c,         I   Likely                               (SKIP         TO ‘2. 27.)
                                                                                                       3.    C-1      Neither       incrpsso        nor
                                                                                                                      dacrearp        likelihood
      3.        t-1            Not      sure
                                                                                                      4.     t-1      Dacrosso        likelihood
      4.        t-1            Unlikely
                                                                    (CONTINUE WITH                    5.    C-1       Greatly       dacreasa        likelihood
      5.        t-1            Vary                                 QUESTION 26,)


26.   Why would it be unlikely                                 that   YOU would                 28.   If you hsd training       on how to assist
      uss your spmncy’s  process                                 in tha future?                       employees    improve   their   performance.
      (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY.)                                                                         how adequate     or inadequate      was that
                                                                                                      training?      (CHECK ONE.)                  8-B
           1.        [,I        Ths       procsss          takss        too      long
                                                                                                      1.    t-1           Did not hsva any training              on
       2.            tT,l       The process      uses               UP too          much of                               how to sssist          employees
                                ths supervisor’s                    tine                                                  improve          their performance
                                                                                                      ------------------------------------
           3.        CT,1       The process     upes                up too          much of           2. t-1             Mot-a than adoquata
                                other  l mployaar’                  timo
                                                                                                      3.    t-1      Adoquat.
           4.        [=I        The process                disrupts             working
                                relationships                 among           staff                   4.    t-1      Naithar        sdsquptm       nor    inadequate

           S.        Ix,1        Employens    make sn effort    to                                    5.    t-1      Inmdaquatm
                                 improve   without  the process
                                                                                                      6.    t-1      Vw-v       inadesumte
           6.        [=,I        Tha parformanca       standards  are
                                 not sufficient      to support   or
                                 damonstrata     poor pmrformmnce

           7.        [=,I]       I hsvr not beon given                           sufficient
                                 guidmncm on using  the                          procmps

           8.        t-1         Different    units    within   my anancy
                       #“I       have provided      conflictinp
                                 guidsncm   on using       thm process

           9.        I=,1        I mm aware of problems
                                 encountered  by other  supervisors
                                 who usad tha process

      10.            1 I         Th*ra   is         s lack         of    m~n~nsnmt
                     #r7,,       support

      11.            I-1         Other         (Spacifyl
                     a...,,




                                                                                                                                                                       J


                               Page 69                                                                             GAO/GGDOl-7 Perf’ormance Management
            Appendix N
            Quef~tlonnaire Used in Our Review




2s.    For those               cmsau wharm you                    decided    &   to assist                          the l mployao, which of                      the
       tallowing               rmsons  antwad                     into   your docirion?                            (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY.)

           1.      t-1         Providing               l ssistanca              tak*s          too       long
                     1.1
           2.      Cm1         Providing               assistance               usas        too      much of          the     supwvisor's         timo

           S.     C-1         Providing                assistance               usw         too      much of          other      employems’       time
                   4.I
           4.     C-1         Providing                assistance               disrupts             working          relationships            among     steff
                   8.3
           5.     [=,I        Employees                make an effort                     to    improve         without         assistarea

           6.     c-1         The performance                     standards                 are      not sufficient               to support
                    1111
                              or damonstrata                    lass than                 "fully        successful"              performance

           7.     [,I         I have not                been given               guidance    on providing                       arsirtmncm
                    (111      to improve                employe4s1               perfarmanca

           8.     t-1         Employee(r)        was "ninim~lly                              successful”      and              I did    not
                    1111      beliwo      assistwwe       would                           improve     performance

           9.     C-1         Emglowo's       parformanca     was “unacceptable”      and                                           I didn't
                   11.1       baliwe    l ssirtanca      would improve    performance

      10.         C I         I believed                that      the      l mployae(s)                  did    not     want      msrirtanca
                  eici6,
      11.         C-1         Assistance                provided     to            employees     in             the     past      has   bean
                  4L,.UI      ineffective                 in improving               performsnc*

      12.         t&          Employae(s)                 demonstrated      ability                        to perform  adaquataly
                              in tha Pmst                 so I felt    assistance                          was not necessary

      13.         t      I    Other          r..sonr           (Specify)
                  lIZi,,




24.   For those               casms whwo YOU decided  ti  to provide  assistance,                                                            how did      you
      dam1 with               the employma(     (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY.)

      1.        [=I          Oava      the      l mployea           easier            work

      2.        lx,1         Raduced          the       l mployor'r             workload

      3.        [ =I         Let     the      situation             work         itself            out

      4.        [=,;;I       Reassigned     tha l mployoa                          to      another          work      area
                             within    your unit

      5.        CT,1         Reassignad             the        employee            to      anothw           unit

      6.        [=,I         Advised          the       employaa           to      rarign

      7.        c=,I         Other         (Specify)




            Page 69                                                                                                     GAO/GGDBl-7 Performance Management
.


                  Que!atlonnalre u9ed in our ReYiew




    32.   Plaa~a    uam the fallowing         chart   to show tha number of pwformanca        actions  you
          hwo    ProPomad/initiated         in fiscal    year 1988 against   WY l mtaloyma that you
          m                           who ~a8 performing      at the %nacceptablmw      lwal,      and
          tha finml    ramulta      of thorn* actiona.


          [FOR PART (A)  ENTER THE NUMBER OF PRCPOSED/INITIATED   CHANGES TO LOWER GRADE
          OR REMOVALS IN FISCAL  YEAR 1988.    IF NONE. ENTER ZERO “0”.  FOR PART (8)
          ENTER THE FINAL RESULTS.   w       NOTF THAT FOR Fw           THE ENTRY     PART (A)
                        THE TOTAL IN PART (&.I




                                                                        PROPOSED/INITIATED                  PROPOSED/INITIATED
                                                                              TO LOWER


                                                                                     (NUMBER)                              (NUMBER)
                                                                        -z!zF                               FYzr




             1.   No action            taken          . . . . ..a.                   (NUMBER)               lrl-)l)        (NUMBER)
                                                                        (.LIuI
             2. Employ@*         chmnwd   to
                  lowor      orada   ............                       Il-yI        (NUMBER)                              (NUMBER)
                                                                                                                 ,“.%I
             3.   Employa*   was
                  roammignod    .............                                        (NUMBER)                              (NUMBER)
                                                                        T                                        I”-,LI
             4.   Lmploy**          km*
                  romovod          .,..............                                  (NUMBER)                              (NUMBER)
                                                                        Ilt-YI                                   117-1.1


             1. IZmployoa ratirad                       ..a.**.             ,,,",    (NUMBER)                              (NUMBER)
                                                                                                            -YEiT-
                                                                                                        I
             6.   CmPlovmo          roaignrd              ..*..*                                                           (NUMBER)
                                                                                                            T


             7.   Action      in       program              .....                    (NUMBER)                              (NUMBER)
                                                                        7zz--                               T
             6.   Other action        tmken
                  [Plwme    l p*cify)

                                                                   *.   I(I.L1I
                                                                                     (NUMBER)

                                                                   *.       (,, u,   (NUMBER)
                                                                                                    I




                  Page 71                                                                       GAO/GGD-91-7 PerIormance Management
                         Appendix IV
                         Questionnaire Used in Our Review




    IV.   PERFORMAWCE,L?$LLlIONS

                                                                              JO.   In  your opinion,    to what extant,         It at
                                                                                    l 11,  would the next highw       lw*l       of
     WI        Pwfarmancm            actions        includrl
                                                                                    msnsrsmont    above you support       actions
                                                                                    l gminat l mployws     who l re parforming        at
               s.    Change to        a lower           grad*
                                                                                    the “unacceptable”      lw*lt     (CHECK ONE.)
               b.    Removal
                                                                                                                                    1.71
                                                                                    1. I-1      To a very groat    extent
               Pwformanca            actions        do &          includol
                                                                                    2.   C-1    To    l    groat      extant
               a.    Denial    of within-grade                   salary
                     increases     or the loss                  of one-half
                                                                                    3.   t-1    To    l    modwrte          extent
                     of comparability        PBY
               b.    Performance      improvement                 plans
                                                                                    4.   t-1    To soma           oxtent

                                                                                    5.   C-1    To little            or    no extent
    29.   In your opinion,         to what extent,         if at
          all.    does your position         include
                                                                              31.   During       fiscal year 1988.     did YOU either
          mufficiant     authority       to propose/initiate
                                                                                    propos*/initiat*        any performance
          pwformanco      actions      against     *mployew
                                                                                    action      against  any employem      that   YOU
          who l t-a performing       at tha “unaccaptmbla”
                                                                                    &ractlv          w         who was pot-forming
          l*v*l?      (CHECK ONE.)                               8UI
                                                                                    at the “unaccaptablo”         lava11     (CHECK ONE.)
                                                                                                                                      IUI
          1.   t-1       To a vary         or-at         extent
                                                                                    (w         do not       w               any      emplovew       that
          2.   t-1       To   l   ormat        axtent
                                                                                    1.   t-1    Yor       (CONTINUE         TO QUESTION          32.1
          J.   r-1       To a moderata              l xtant
                                                                                    2.   r-1    No        (SKIP     TO ‘WESTION           36.1
          4.   t-1       To some        extent

          5.   C-1       To little         or      no extant




Y




                         Page 70                                                               GAO/GGDOl-7 Performance Management
.
                      Appendix Iv
                      Que8tio~                         used in our Review




    36.   In the future,       if you had l n “unacceptable”                              38.    If YOU had training       related       to         proposing/
          pwformw.      how likely    or unlikely    would it                                    initiating   porformancc,      actions.             how
          be thmt you would woposm/initiata            a                                         adewato    or incldoquota      was this             training?
          pwformnnso      action   to daal with   that                                           (CHECK ONE.)                                                  1111
          l mployooT     (CHECK ONE.)                    1111
                                                                                                 1.   t-1           Did not have any training
          1.   t-1   Very       lik*ly                                                                              related    to Proposing/initiating
                                                               (SKIP TO                                             porformwwo     actions
          2.   t-1   Likely                                      QUESTION          38.1          ----_-------------__________________
                                                                                                 2. I-1             More then adequate
          J.   I-1   Not      sure
                                             I-
                                                                                                 3.   t-1      Adequeta

          4.   t-1   Unlikely                                                                    4.   t-1      Neither       adequate      nor    inadequate
                                                               (CONTINUE           WITH
          5.   t-1   Very      unlikely           I-            QUESTION           37.1          5.   t-1      Inadequate

                                                                                                 6.   t-1      Very      inadequate
    37.   Why would it ba unlikely      that YOU would
          propoo*/initimto  l  porformanc*    action
                                                                                          39.   If YOU hwo any comments            regarding       any
          in tha futuro?   (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY.)
                                                                                                Previous     quartion     or wnoral      comments
                                                                                                concwning       pwormanco     management
                     The process                  takes        too    long
                                                                                                functions.      plaara    use the space
                                                                                                provided~below.         If naccssary,       attach
                     Thm process takes                       too      much of
                                                                                                additional      shoots.                            ,111
                     the wpwviaor’o                        time

                     Do not          wont         to    go through           tho
                     l ppwl/*rbitrmtion                      process

                     Thwo    im          l   leek         of    manwmmmt
                     support

                     Tho porfornanco        standards                        are
                     not wfficiant        to support
                     pwformmca       actions

                     I am aware     of Problems
                     l ncountorad      by othw  supervisors
                     who proporod/initiatmd        a
                     performance       8ction

                     I hwa not bow given   suffieiant
                     puidancm on taking a pwformanca
                     action

                     Diffwent    units    within                       my l amcy
                     hwo provided      conflicting                          guidance
                     on taking  l   pwform8nco                          action

                     Other       romson(s)                (Specify)



                                                                                           /                THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP.                           -1

                                                                                                  PLEASE RETURN YOUR COMPLETED SURVEY
                                                                                                IN THE ENCLOSED PRE-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE.




                                                                                                                                                                      J




                     Page 73                                                                                GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
-
                         Appendix IV                                                                                                            x
                         Questionnaire Used in Our Review




    53.   For     the
                   propomed/initimted        portornunca             $4.   Of all    the gorfornunoo       wtionm     thet    you
          l ctiona indicated      in quwtion      J2                       progomod/initiatod         in fiscal    war     19611.
          (“FINAL  RESULTS”1 whw.        NO ACTION                         how many wara not suPPorted            by your
          w., takmn,    why w.s this     th. cwa?                          next lwml        wpwvisor?
          (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY.)                                          (ENTER NUMBER AND CONTINUE WITH
                                                                           QUESTION 35.         IF NONE, ENTER ZERO “0’
          A. CHANOE                                                        AND SKIP TO QUESTION 36.1

                                                                                               (NUMBER)              “‘-“I
          1.    tTiil    There wws     l     lack of documentation
                         to support        tha action
                                                                     35.   In those     cases whara YOU did not rocaiw
                                                                           support    from your next lwal       supwvisor,
                                                                           what wer. the reasons         givm for not
                                                                           supporting      your proposal1
          S.    [=I      Othw    (Specify)                                 (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY.)

                                                                           1.   I;;;;]   No wason         provided

                                                                           2.   [=,;I    Did     not   have    tha     tin*    wailablo

                                                                           3.   I-1      Did not want          to    go through           thm
                                                                                  ,,.I   appeal/arbitration             prowess
          1.    C-1      Thera was a lack of documontgtion
                 41)     to support tha action
                                                                           4.   trir,l   Your documentation      was not
                                                                                         sufficiwt    to support    the action

                                                                           5.   C-1      Fait   that      higher      lwals   of agency
                                                                                 1UI     management        would      not support   the
          J.    t-1      Other   (Spwify)
                  1111                                                                   action

                                                                           6.   [=I      Tha employma          was due        to   ratire

                                                                           7.   [=,I     Other alternatives              such as
                                                                                         roarsi9nmsnt       etc.        wrg   not
                                                                                         considered

                                                                           8.   [=,I     Other     reason(s)




                         Page 7 2                                                        GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management




                                                              !
                                                            ‘“u:
Appendix VI

QuestionnaireObjective,Scope,
and Methodology

                        The purpose of our questionnaire was to obtain information on how
                        supervisors in the federal government identify and deal with employees
                        whose performance is less than fully successful. Using a mail question-
                        naire, we asked supervisors about performance standards, the process
                        for dealing with poor performers, and performance actions during fiscal
                        year 1988. We defined a supervisor as one who directly supervised at
                        least one employee and was responsible for preparing an employee’s
                        summary appraisal.


                        To validate the questionnaire, we pretested it by administering it to a
Instrument Validation   number of supervisors employed by two federal agencies in our final
and Verification        sample. We selected a headquarters site for one of the agencies and a
                        regional office for the other to test the instrument’s universality. During
                        the pretests, we observed respondents while they were completing the
                        questionnaires and asked them to point out any aspect of the instrument
                        that was unclear or otherwise problematic. We also asked for their com-
                        ments and opinions on the questionnaire and discussed their answers
                        with them to see if they understood the questions. Many of their sugges-
                        tions were incorporated into the final questionnaire, which we then
                        mailed to the full sample of supervisors,

                        We reviewed and edited each returned questionnaire for completeness
                        and consistency and entered the responses into a computer database.
                        The resulting database was then verified for its accuracy, and logic
                        checks were performed on the data.


                        We developed two samples for our questionnaire. The governmentwide
Sampling Methodology    sample was selected from a universe of supervisors in the Office of Per-
                        sonnel Management’s (OPM)database of civilian supervisors and was
                        designed to provide us with a general view of how federal supervisors
                        were identifying and dealing with poor performers. The other sample
                        was drawn from a universe of supervisors at the 20 locations we visited
                        to expand upon information we received at those sites.


Governmentwide Sample   OPMprovided us with a data tape listing names and office mailing
                        addresses of 1,53 1 government supervisors of General Schedule (GS),
                        General Management (GM), and Wage Grade (WG) employees. The 1,53 1
                        supervisors were randomly selected from the Central Personnel Data
                        File (CPDF),an OPMdatabase which contained a total of 252,366 civilian
                        supervisors in September 1988. A GAOstatistician reviewed OPM'S


                        Page 76                                   GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
Appendix V
                                                                                                        .
Time SupervisorsSpentAssisting
Poor Petiormers

                                                               Number of employees who
                                                              Voluntarily   Had actions            were still
                                                                              proposed                  poor
              Number of months                 Improved        agsi:~::    against them          performers
              0.0 - 2.9                                14               13                   5                1
              3.0 _ 5.9                                27               12                  12              11
              6.0 - 8.9                                22               13                  10              14
              9.0 - 11.9                               21               21                   4              33
              12.0-14.9                                15                8                   8                8
              15.0 - 17.9                               9                3                   1              19
              18.0 - 20.9                               1                3                   1                9
              21 .o - 23.9                              3                2                   1                4
              24.0 - 26.9                               1                0                   1                2
              27.0 - 29.9                               1                0                   2               'is
              30.0 - 32.9                               0                1                   1                 1
              33.0 - 35.9                               0                0                   0                0
              si.0-38.9                                 0                 0                  0               0
              39.0 - 41.9                               0                0                   0             0
              42.0 - 44.9                               2                0                   0             0
              Total                                   116               76                  46           102
              Source: GAO analysis of data from the 340 DCls completed during the review.




              Page 74                                                 GAO/GGBBl-7 Performance Management
        .


                                   Appendh VI
                                   Questionnaire Objective, Scope,
                                   and Methodology




                                   important to note that in instances where only a subset of the popula-
                                   tion responded to a question, sampling errors could be greater than + 5
                                   percent because of the decrease in sample size.


                                   Supervisors in the governmentwide sample completed questionnaires
Survey Response                    between April and June 1989. From the 650 supervisors who were sent
Rates                              questionnaires, we obtained a 72-percent usable return rate (percentage
                                   usable of total mailed) and a 82.3-percent adjusted usable return rate
                                   (usable returns as a percentage of total mailed less ineligibles and unde-
                                   liverables). The final respondent group consisted of 396 supervisors.

                                   Supervisors in the 20 locations sample completed questionnaires
                                   between February and May 1989. Of the 1,635 supervisors who were
                                   mailed questionnaires, 1,188 returned usable ones to us, a rate of 77.4
                                   percent. The adjusted usable return rate was 84.9 percent.

                                   Table VI. 1 summarizes the questionnaire returns.

Table VI.1: Questionnaire Return
                                                                                  Governmentwide             20 locations
                                   Tvoe of return                               Number       Percent      Number        Percent
                                   Usable returns                                    396           72.0      1188          77.4
                                   Ineligibles:
                                   _.---.---
                                      Not supervisors
                                   ______-___                                         35            6.4       113           7.4
                                      Left aaencv/location                            26            4.7         9           0.6
                                   Questionnaires returned as
                                   undeliverable                                        8           1.5        14           0.9
                                   Questionnaires delivered but not
                                   returned
                                   ~--~                                               85           15.5       211          13.7
                                   Total                                             550            100      1635           100
                                   Note: Figures may not add to 100 percent because of rounding.



                                   The results from our governmentwide sample are limited to the 396
Universe Estimates                 usable returns and represent an estimated 181,704 supervisors, or 72
From the Sample                    percent, of the total universe of 252,366. These 181,704 supervisors
Results                            directly supervised about 1.6 million employees in fiscal year 1988. The
                                   1,188 usable returns of the 20 locations sample represent an estimated
                                   9,551 supervisors, or 76 percent, of the total universe of 12,511 who
                    e              supervised an estimated 78,000 employees.




                                   Page 77                                                  GAOJGGD-W-7 PerPormance Management
                                                                                                                     ,
                          Appendix VI
                          Questionnaire Objective, Scope,
                          and Methodology




                          random selection process, and we tested the accuracy of the information
                          provided in the file through a telephone survey to a random sample of
                          60 supervisors. We did not, however, verify the CPDF for completeness.

                          From the list of 1,531 names, we selected a random sample of 550. We
                          determined that this size would be sufficient to permit generalizations to
                          the universe of 262,366 supervisors at a confidence level of 95 percent
                          and a sampling error, or precision, of + 5 percent. We drew 550 random
                          cases that did not overlap with our 20 locations sample. Our sample
                          included cases from 39 of the total 104 federal agencies.


20 Locations Sample       From each of the 20 locations that we visited, we requested a list of
                          names and office mailing addresses for supervisors of GS, GM, and WG
                          employees as of December 1988. A total of 12,511 supervisors were
                          identified through the agencies’ computerized personnel data files. We
                          did not independently verify the accuracy and completeness of the list-
                          ings or computer tapes that the agencies provided us.

                          We used standard statistical techniques to select a stratified random
                          sample of supervisors. Each stratum represented 1 of the 20 locations.
                          The total sample consisted of 1,535 supervisors. We selected specific
                          sample sizes to ensure that the sampling error for each stratum would
                          not be greater than 10 percent, and the sampling error for the entire
                          sample (i.e., the 20 strata combined) would not be greater than 5 per-
                          cent, at the 95-percent confidence level.


Explanation of Sampling   Because we selected a sample instead of surveying all the members of
Error                     the universe, the results we obtained are subject to some degree of
                          uncertainty, or sampling error. The sampling error represents the
                          expected difference between our sample results, or estimates, and the
                          “true” results that would have been obtained from surveying the entire
                          universe of supervisors. Sampling errors are always stated at a specific
                          confidence level,’ which is the degree of assurance that can be placed in
                          estimates derived from the sample. In designing our samples we speci-
                          fied that the sampling error should be no greater than + 5 percent at a
                          confidence level of 95 percent. In other words, we expect the chances
                          are 19 in 20, or the probability is 95 percent, that our sample estimates
                          will be within + 5 percentage points of the “true” universe values. It is

                          ‘Using Statistical Sampling, Methodology Transfer Paper 6, GAO, Program Evaluation and Method-
                          ology Division (Washington, DC.: Apr. 1986).



                          Page 76                                              GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                                        Appendix Vl
                                        Qnentlo~A~    Objective, Scope,
                                        end Methodology




Table Vl.2: Universe Estimator and
Sampling Errors (95Percent Confidence   Variable                                         Estimate     Lower limit    Upper limit
Interval)                               Number of employees directly supervised by
                                        the supervisors represented in our survey (in
                                        millions)                                               1.6            1.4            1.7
                                        Proportion of employees who performed
                                        below the fullv successful level                       5.7%           3.7%           7.7%
                                        Proportion of employees performing below the
                                        fully successful level who were identified as
                                        minimallv successful durina fiscal vear 1988          02.6%          70.0%          86.4%
                                        Proportion of supervisors who indicated that
                                        they assisted poor performers                         98.2%          93.7%          99.8%
                                        Average time spent per week with each poor
                                        performer                                          4.9 hrs.       4.0 hrs.       5.8 hrs.
                                        Supervisors’ willingness to deal with poor
                                        performers in the future
                                           Likely                                             76.1%          71.9%          80.3%
                                           Not sure                                           13.0%           9.7%          16.3%
                                           Unlikelv                                           10.9%           7.8%          14.0%
                                        Proportion of supervisors having poor
                                        performers that they did not assist                    8.3%           3.1%          13.5%
                                        Supervisors’ opinions concerning the quality
                                        of non-numeric performance standards
                                           Adequate                                           74.6%          69.8%          79.4%
                                           Neither adequate nor inadequate                    14.0%          10.2%          17.8%
                                           lnadeauate                                         11.4%           7.9%          14.9%
                                        Supervisors’ opinions concerning the quality
                                        of numeric performance standards
                                           Adequate                                           64.0%          57.9%          70.1%
                                           Neither adeauate nor inadeauate                    16.9%          12.1%          21.7%
                                           Inadequate                                         19.1%          14.1%          24.1%
                                        Proportion of supervisors indicating that they
                                        are unlikely to propose a performance action
                                        in the future                                         10.2%           6.3%          14.1%
                                           Say the standards are not sufficient to
                                           suooort the actions                                32.5%          17.8%          47.2%
                                           Believe that they did not have
                                           management’s support                               57.5%          42.0%          73.0%
                                           Say the process takes too much of their
                                           time                                               65.0%          50.1%          79.9%
                                           Do not want to go through the appeals
                                           arbitration orocess                                35.0%          20.1%          49.9%
                                        Proportion of supervisors who perceive a lack
                                        of authority to take performance actions              21.7%          17.6%          25.8%
                                        Proportion of supervisors with poor
                                        performers who perceive a lack of authority           32.1%          23.3%          40.9%
                                        Proportion of supervisors without poor
                                        performers who perceive a lack of authority           17.7%          13.3%           22.1%
                                                                                                                     (continued)



                                        Page 79                                          GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                                                                         s
Appendix VI
Questionnaire Objective,   Scope,
and Methodology




To show the size of our sampling error, upper and lower limits for all
estimates that appear in this report are shown in table VI.2.




Page 78                                  GAO/GGD91-7 Perl’onnance Management
Appendix VI
Questionnaire Objective, Scope,
and Methodology




Variable                                         Eetlmrte     Lower limit    Upper limit
Proportion of supervisors who did not receive
trainin for proposing performance actrons
TEA
w o e reved they lacked authority to take
action aaainst poor performers                        34.2%          25.4%          43.0%
Proportion of supervisors who received
trainin for proposing performamons
-mA
w o e reved thev lacked authoritv                     16.7%          12.3%          21.1%
Proportion of supervisors who are unlikely to
take performance actions who say they have
not been given sufficient guidance on using
the process                                           17.5%           8.0%          31 .O%
Proportion of employees indicated by
supervisors as performing at the minimally
successful level during fiscal year 1988               4.7%           2.5%           6.9%
Number of months employees were minimally
successful performers
   0 to less than 6 months                            46.0%          35.8%          56.2%
   6 to less than 12 months                           26.7%          17.7%          35.7%
   12 or more months                                  27.3%          18.3%          36.3%
Proportion of supervisors indicating that the
fact that minimally successful employees
cannot be removed or demoted decreases
the likelihood that they will deal with these
employees                                             19.0%          15.1%          22.9%
Proportion of supervisors expressing that they
are having any problems in dealing with poor
performers                                            50.5%          45.6%          55.4%




Page 81                                          GAO/GGD@l-7 Performance Management
Appendix VI
Questionnaire Objective, Scope,
and Methodology




Variable                                          Ertimate     Lower limit    Upper limit
Proportion of     supervisors who believe they
lack authority    who say they are unlikely to
rnttrate actron   against poor performers.             21.4%          12.6%          30.2%
Prooortion of     suoervisors who believe thev
have authorit      &ho say they are unlikely to
iiiRmx&                                                 7.2%           4.3%          10.1%
Proportion of supervisors who believe they
lack adequate management support for
taking action against unacceptable
performers                                             16.1%          12.5%          19.7%
Proportion of supervisors with poor
performers who expressed a lack of
management support                                     23.9%          15.9%          31.9%
Proportion of supervisors without poor
performers who expressed a lack of
management support                                     13.1%           9.2%          17.0%
Proportion of supervisors who believe they do
not have management support and who say
they are unlikely to propose actions                   30.6%          19.1%          42.1%
Proportion of supervisors who believe they
have management support and who say they
are unlrkely to propose actions                         6.4%           3.7%           9.1%
Proportion of supervisors who did not receive
trainina for usina performance standards               14.7%          11.1%          18.3%
Proportion of supervisors who did not receive
training for providing assistance to poor
performers                                             25.1%          20.8%          29.4%
Proportion of supervisors who did not receive
training for initiating/ proposing performance
actions                                                28.9%          24.4%          33.4%
Supervisors’ opinions regarding the quality of
training for using performance standards
   Adeauate                                            73.8%          69.0%          78.6%
   Neither adequate nor inadequate                     13.8%          10.0%          17.6%
   Inadequate                                          12.3%           8.7%          15.9%
Supervisors’ opinions regarding the quality of
trarning for providing assistance to poor
performers               -
   Adequate                                            77.7%          72.9%          82.5%
   Neither adequate nor inadeauate                     14.4%          10.4%          18.4%
   Inadequate                                           7.9%           4.8%          11 .O%
Supervisors’ opinions regarding the quality of
training for initiating/proposing  actions
   Adeauate                                            76.4%          71.4%           81.4%
   Neither adequate nor inadequate                     14.5%          10.4%           18.6%
   Inadequate                                           9.1%           5.7%           12.5%
                                                                              (continued)




Page 80                                           GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
                      Comments From the National Federation of
                      Federal Employees




               GAO-SMK-001327                                                   -2-                                  June       12,      1990



               performance            is Ned unacceptable.                            We fail       to see       any              problem
               with     the    employee        continuing                     as a Federal          employee.                     As you
               point      out,     managers       currently                     have   statutory         authority                    to
               withhold        within      grade       increases                   in  such      cases.

Seepp. 46-47   In your        report,          however,         you      state       that       within          grade
               increase         denial         does     not      serve       as a sufficient                    incentive          to
               promote        better         performance.               Yet,       paradoxically,                   the     report
               suggests         that      denying         the      annual        pay      increase           to minimally
               successful            workers        could        serve       as an incentive                    for
               performance             improvement.                Unfortunately,                 the      report         does     not
               contain        any     evidence          that       such      a change           will       be a more
               effective          incentive           than      the     within         grade         increase           denial
               which       YOU deem          to be ineffective.                     We believe               it     is
               inappropriate              to make         public        policy         suggestions                without
               factual        foundation.

See pp. 4647   Of more          importance,                 however,            is    the    report’s           implicit
               adoption           of      the       concept          that       minimally          successful              workers
               are      “poor        performers”                that        cannot        be fired.             This       is
               blatantly             untrue.              As stated             above,       we do not            believe          it     is
               proper         to categorize                    a minimally              successful            employee          as a
               poor       performer.                  Moreover,             while       a minimal           successful             rating
               cannot         lead        to removal              under         Chapter         43 of Title              5 of      the
               U.S.       Code.         such        a rating,            over       a period          of    time,        can    lead         to
               a removal             action           under       Chapter           75 of Title             5 of      the     U.S.
               Code       for     the        efficiency             of      the     service.            To suggest
               otherwise             is      a disservice                 to the        readers          of   the     report.

               We do not        believe          that   the    criticisms                         above        should      detract
               from   what      is     otherwise        a fine         analysis                     of   the      performance
               management          system.           We look     forward                     to     seeing        a copy       of       the
               final    report.

                                                                                Sincerely,



                                                                               Steven         Kreisberg
                                                                               Executive            Direct0




                      Page 83                                                                              GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
Appendix VII

comments From the National Federationof                                                                                                                                           *
Federal Employees


                                                                             National Federation of Federal Employees
                                                                                                                      James M. Peirce l President
                                                                                                            Ronald W. Kipke l Secretary lkeasurer
                                                                                                                In reply refer to:                      GAO-SMK-001327



                                                                                                    June        12,      1990




                                Mr.    Richard      Page1
                                Assistant        Comptroller           General
                                General       Accounting         Office
                                Washington,         DC      20540

                                Dear        Mr.      Pogel:

                                We appreciate         your    submitting       to us for      comment     your                                          Draft
                                Report    concerning         Performance       Management.         We ara     in                                        general
                                agreement      with     much    of the    content      of the    report     but                                         we have
                                a few brief        comments       that   we wish     to share      with   you.

                                Pirat,          GAO’s         focus         on     the      lack        of managerial                  commitment              to
                                the       performance               management                process           is     clearly           the      most
                                salient           finding           of the           report.              Use of generic                   performance
                                standards.               vague         standards,                subjective              standards,               non-
                                measurable               standards,                etc.       have        created          a situation                 that
                                undermines               effective              performance                 management.                  Accordingly,
                                supervisors                lack        confidence                in the         process           since         they
                                realize           that        once        the      process           is exposed               in a third               party
                                forum         they       will       find        it     difficult              to support               their        actions.
                                As     the      report          points          out       the      failing           of the         performance
                                management               system           in this           regard          is primarily                 a management
                                failure           to properly                 implement              the      system.             We believe               a
                                focus         on training                of     individual                managers           and       supervisors                is
                                necessary              in order             to effectuate                   the      purposes            of the          Civil
                                Service           Reform         Act.           If      the      current           program          is not          working
                                it     is because               management                has      failed          to make          it     work.

Seepp. 46-47.                   We are,         frankly,          confused         by your     suggestions           to resolve      the
                                minimally           successful            category      “problem.”          First,       we do not
                                concur        with      your      analysis         that   such     a “problem”         indeed
                                exists.           After      all.      a minimally          successful        rating       indicates
                                that       an   employee          is performing           successfully          since     his/her




                         1016 16th Street, NW; Washington, D.C. 20036; Phone: (202) 662-4400; FAX (202) 862-4432
                tme lwbMl vlw Prorldmrte                                                                                                  fteglon5, Mhur R. GuanMo, Jr., SanlaFe,NM
                Regbn 1, Qoofgh Kwhun, Hunl!iybn, NV                                                                                      Re9lon6, Jameo0. Md)onald,Bhhop,CA
                Fbg!m 2, R&art E. Simmofm,Newark,NJ                                                                                       Reglw 7, DauglasD. Wrbhl, Mboula, MT
                I*gkn 3. Row Mfi!y While,PsnamaUly, FL                                                                                    Reglw 8, BrendaK. Otslad.Muorhead,MN
                lU#l01I4, Vlvkn W. Grw, Shnvcport,LA                                                                                      Regh 9, ShellaVSIUOO,Munck, IN




                                  Page 82                                                                                    GAO/GGD91-7 Perfomance Maheeement
      .
Appendix IX

CommentsFrom the National Treasury
EmployeesUnion



                                             The National ‘keasury EmployeesUnion




                                                                      June 26,       1990


              Mr. Richard L. Fogel
              Assistant   Comptroller      General
              General Accounting      Office
              General Government Division
              Washington,   D.C.     20548

              Dear Mr. Fogel;
                     Thank you for the opportunity                 to comment on the draft         GAD
              Report      concerning:        "Performance        Management:       How Well  Is The
              Government       Dealing     With Poor Performers?"              The issue of agency
              performance       appraisal     systems is of primary          importance  to NTEU and
              the employees we represent.              Clearly,       the system envisioned   by the
              Civil      Service       Reform     Act   of      1978,     (CSRA) I   has not    fully
              materialized.           This observation        appears      to be supported    by the
              preliminary       findings     of the GAO study.
                        As an example,       as stated in your draft report,            "about half of
              the        supervisors        said    they    had      experienced       difficulty          in
              implementing          a process     for dealing      with poor performers.             Among
              other things,          supervisors    cited the significant         amount of time that
              can be involved,                a perceived       lack      of management           support,
              difficulitee          in using the performance          standards,    a perceived        lack
              of authority          to propose performance          actions,     and a reluctance          to
              go through appeal or arbitration."                  These perceptions          on the part
              of eupervieors            must be addressed         in any attempt          to formulate
              proposed solutions            to the problems identified           by this report.
                     Supervisors     must be motivated,          and supported        in their     efforts
              to deal      with     poor    performers.            NTEU fully          supports        GAO'0
              recommendation      that federal        agencies     demonstrate       their    commitment
              to their    supervisors       and their       employees by, "ensuring              that all
              managers     and supervisors            receive      periodic      training         and the
              necessary    technical      assistance      to adequately      prepare       them to deal
              with Poor performers..."            Although     5 CFR 430.204 (i) requires               that
               “each appraisal       system shall        provide     for assisting         employees       in
              improving    performance      rated at a level below fully               successful...,"
              the means of providing            such assistance         is typically        left    to the
              imagination     of individual       supervisors       who are ill      prepared      to deal
              with this responsibility.              Specific     training    must be provided             to
              supervisora     and to employees.




                               1730 K Street, N.W. * Suite 1101 l Washington, D.C. 201X6 . (202) 785411     @-u&-




                     Page 85                                                           GAO/GGDSl-‘7 Performance Management
                                                                                                                             .
Appendix VIII

Comments From the American Federation of * ’
GovernmentEmployees,LWLCIO


                AMERlOlN
                       FEDEIWTICN
                               OFGWERNMENr
                                         EMPLOYEES,
                                                AFL-CIO

                                        John N. Sturdlvant            Allen H. Kaplan                    Joan C. Welsh
                                         Nallonal PresldenI      NatIonal SeoreIary.Trearurer       Dlrmnor, Women’* 0epulmw-d
                                                                                                          6 /GAO
                                                                 June 25, 1990
                  Mr. Richard L. Fogel
                  Assistant   Comptroller General
                  U.S. General Accounting   Office
                  441 G Street,   N.W., Room 3a5ac
                  Washington,   DC 20548
                  Dear Mr.     Fogel:
                  This is in response to your letter    dated June 5, 1990, addressed    to
                  President   John Sturdivant regarding     GAO's report  on performance
                  management.
                  We find your report to be most interesting         and the conclusions    reached
                  sup ort beliefs      of AFGE that the federal     government  does effectively
                  dea P with poor performance.       We also agree that the procedures            are
                  unduly complicated      and not understood,     not on1 by supervisors,         but
                  also workers       who need to improve      their     wor E to increase      their
                  performance    ratings.
                  We have found that many supervisors                  confuse disciplinary           matters with
                  performances~d&cause               of this,    they have difficulty           supporting     their
                  positions                     they    be challenged             in   an appeals          process.
                  Disciplinary         matters     such as tardiness,            laziness,      and absenteeism
                  should be properly             dealt   with as dieci          linary     matters.        However,
                  supervisors        have not been trained              in t K is process         either.       As a
                  result,      their     views     of such workers           show up in the performance
                  evaluation        which should narrowly             be applied        to how the employees
                  perform their duties outlined               in their position        descriptions       and their
                  performance        standards.
                  Ae you know, the burden of proof in taking                     discipline        is different
                  under both disciplinary            actions       and performance            actions.        When
                  supervisors      do not clearly         distinguish        between the two and save
                  disciplinary      complaints     against      a poor performer           for a performance
                  appraisal,     they then have difficulty            sustaining       any action      should it
                  be challenged.        If supervisors       could be trained          to clearly      delineate
                  between the two and separate           personnel      actions      into disciplinary          and
                   erfonnance      matters   instead    of mixing the two, the system would work
                  %etter.
                  Thank you for         the opportunity       to submit       our comments.
                                                                 Sincerely,
                                                                                            02%-J
                                                                J n%!6%~&ar&                      Director
                                                                Y ield Services             Depi&tment
                  JWM/dao

                         80 FStreet,N.WI44shington,DC 20001                                     (202) 737-8700
                                                 *-,a



                         Page 84                                                        GAO/GGD-91-7 Performance Management
Gary B. Brumback        Senior Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Personnel, U.S.
                        Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC

Alan K. Campbell        Executive Vice President and Vice Chairman of the Board, ARA Ser-
                        vices, Inc., Philadelphia, PA (Vice Chairman of the Center for Excellence
                        in Government)
DennisM. Devaney        Board Member, National Labor Relations Board, Washington, DC
                        (Former MSPB member and FLEA General Counsel)

John F. Hillins         Vice President, Corporate Compensation, Honeywell, Inc., Minneapolis,
                        MN (Vice President, American Compensation Association, and Chairman
                        of ACA Productivity Task Force)

Patricia W. Ingraharn   Associate Professor of Public Administration and Director of the Mas-
                        ters Program in Public Administration, State University of New York,
                        Binghamton, NY (Served as Project Director, Task Force on Recruitment
                        and Retention, National Commission on the Public Service)

Paul D. Mahoney         Director, Office of Management Analysis, Merit Systems Protection
                        Board, Washington, DC

JamesL. Perry           Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs, School of Public and
                        Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN (Past Presi-
                        dent, Section on Personnel Administration and Labor Relations, Amer-
                        ican Society for Public Administration; Past Chairman, Public Sector
                        Division, Academy of Management)

Timothy M. Dirks        Chief, Labor Relations Division of the Office of Employee and Labor
                        Relations, Office of Personnel Management, Washington, DC




                        Page 07                                  GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
      AppendixM
      Comments From the National Trensury
      Employees Union




        Federal       government      agencies    must    also       create       a work
environment         which   supports     and encourages      positive       aupervisory
efforts        to deal with poor performers.           Supervisors        must believe
that     this     is an important         part of their      work responsibility.
Without       such a positive      motivation,   the many competing           priorities
placed      upon individual        supervisors    will   effectively         negate      any
efforts       to address this problem.
       NTEU does not agree with GAO's recommendations                    for possible
congressional        action.     Simply "eliminating       the minimally    successful
rating    category,"        or "changing    performance      standards   so that what
is now considered          to be minimally      successful     becomes unacceptable"
is an overly       simplistic      solution    to a complex problem.
        NTEU would         recommend revising               the regulations           to require
agencies     to establish           written      performance       standards       at all levels
of performance           as opposed to only the "fully                     successful"        level.
(See 5 pCrFoRVTtj:.204(e)).             It is our experience           that in agencies           that
only                     written         performance          standards         at   the       "fully
successful"       level,       supervisors        and employees       have great difficulty
clearly     articulating           performance        expectations         above or below the
"fully     successful"          level.       Written     performance         standards      at each
level    of performance             would add a degree              of objectivity           to the
performance        evaluation          process.       It would also address              the issue
raised    by supervisors           regarding       the difficulty        in using performance
standards.
        Again,     thank you for the opportunity     to comment on this draft
report.         If I can answer any additional         questions,  or provide
greater      details      concerning    NTEU's comments or recommendations,
please     feel     free to contact     Mark L. Gray, Assistant   Director    of
Negotiations,          at 202-785-4411.

                                                               Sincerely,


                                                              Robert-M.       Tobias
                                                              National       President




      Page 86                                                       GAO/GGD91-7 Performance Management
,_/.A-   88,   ../   I,.,.   88, 8,   s/s



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