Nearly 250,000 DoD employees will see a new personnel appraisal system in April

The Defense Department is preparing to roll out the biggest phase of its new performance evaluation system, encompassing nearly 250,000 civilian employees.

This April DoD will fold multiple services and components into its New Beginnings initiative, which began last spring.

The initiative requires more frequent reviews between supervisors and employees and a linkage between performance and rewards such as bonuses and promotions. DoD hopes the new system will reward harder workers by giving them incentives.

The next phase of New Beginnings will bring in multiple facets of the Army including U.S. Army Europe, Army Test and Evaluation Command, U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and Army Criminal Investigation Command.

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Other institutions that will come into the fold include:

  • U.S. European Command.
  • National Guard Bureau.
  • Air Force.
  • Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Chief of Naval Operations, Command-Navy Installations Command, Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration, Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education.
  • Defense Contract Audit Agency.
  • Defense Human Resources Activity.
  • Defense Logistics Agency.
  • Defense Media Agency.
  • Missile Defense Agency.
  • DoD Office of the Inspector General.
  • Joint Staff.
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

One of the most notable attributes of the New Beginning initiative is the three-tiered employee rating system to assess performance.

Certain elements of employees’ work will be rated outstanding, fully successful or unacceptable. The criterion for outstanding work includes exceptional results, exceeding high metrics, acting as an expert and role model and handling roadblocks well. On the other hand, unacceptable work is defined as being unreliable, making poor decisions, failing to use skills required for the job and requiring more supervision than expected.

“One of the changes we are really trying to advocate through this system would be that we have communication throughout the ratings cycle and that the employees receive recognition and acknowledgement of their performance and their contribution to the nation throughout the ratings cycle and then there is nothing that comes as a surprise on the 365th day,” Paige Hinkle-Bowles, former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy told Federal News Radio last year.

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The new system requires supervisors to hold a minimum of three formal documented performance discussions with an employee per year.

“It focuses on improving overall performance management through continuous engagement between supervisors and employees. It allows us to link organizational missions and goals to individual performance of the employees by providing regular feedback during the appraisal cycle,” Hinkle-Bowles said.

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DoD already transitioned about 14,000 employees to the new system and plans to finish moving all DoD civilian workers to the New Beginnings system by 2018.

The department will reissue its DoD Civilian Personnel Management System: Awards Instruction to standardize employee rewards across DoD.

Along with that instruction the Pentagon will release a supplement instruction to inform supervisors, human resources personnel and employees about the award programs and process.

The New Beginnings overhaul stems from requirements in the 2010 and 2012 defense authorization acts. The laws asked for a system that redesigns “procedures for use within DoD to make appointments to positions within the competitive service in a way that supports the mission, managers and applicants.”

The law also allows the department to establish a DoD Civilian Workforce Incentive Fund to monetarily spur on employees based on team or individual performance and to attract and retain employees with certain qualifications or abilities. DoD later chose not to create the fund.