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New Performance Pay Plan for Federal Employees

The Office of Management and Budget is focusing on a new way to reward and retain high performers. These government employees will likely benefit from this new structure as it seeks to replace older, more inefficient processes and focus on new initiatives. Essential skills, high performance and targeted pay incentives are the baseline for this new and improved pay plan; funding is being proposed for the 2018-2019 plans for implementation. Additionally, each Agency can work to create innovative and exciting rating systems to reward and retain employees with critical skills, knowledge and abilities. Further, monies will be provided to support robust training and education programs that focus on enhancing performance; opportunities to pilot new efficiencies, processes and procedures are being provided and encouraged across the federal government and beyond.

Specifically, the plan will enhance rewards and incentives so that organizations can retain high performers and most importantly, those with the best skill mix. In order to accomplish this, agencies will have flexibility with any number of innovations. Some may choose to elect pay banding which is accomplished by consolidating the GS system’s 15 grades into a limited number of pay bands, usually four or five Pay Bands or perhaps change ratings to a pass/fail system. The Federal Aviation Administration has used a core compensation alternative pay system incorporating pay bands since the late 1990s. Additionally, others may opt for the ability to offer cash awards for critical skills…and the list goes on and on. Developmental programs are being refined in each of these areas to determine which system works best for each particular agency based on the skills, knowledge and abilities required for those missions.

Recognizing employees for their performance is a critical piece to a successful mission; these new opportunities to alter the plans to the most appropriate solution are a good one. New forward leaning ideas will arise, and communication, collaboration and information sharing increased. Measures will be implemented so as to ensure compliance and accountability with the new system and to ensure it is working properly.

In conjunction with the new pay system, many companies are opting to revisit their education and training programs. Skill mix and development are critical to many of these mission sets and therefore, hiring and performance assessments are key to their success. By revisiting many of these education and training plans, agencies can provide additional opportunities and coursework that will in turn, enhance performance. The link to the new pay system and education and training is critical and one that should go hand in hand with the implementation of new performance requirements. This system will encourage employees to develop creative Individual Development Plans (IDPs) to improve their skill sets and be rewarded with higher pay and awards as they accomplish their targeted goals.

Many organizations are providing additional funding for coursework, on the job training, college programs and skill enhancement initiatives that foster increased performance. These opportunities, particularly in the area of information systems, cybersecurity, science, technology, engineering and math, for many of the agencies, are increasing performance and providing a more holistic way forward for the organization in meeting their goals and objectives.

Although each approach may vary, agencies will have the ability to implement what makes the most sense to them; they will now have the flexibility to  appropriately reward employees for performance and meet the needs of their mission. Each will need to ensure they work to establish a mechanism as well, to measure success; feedback on these new processes and procedures are critical and must be captured so that that they can make adjustments, as necessary.


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About The Author

Dr. Donna Day is a Manager at the Department of Defense, where she has been for more than 30 years. With a background in Information Assurance, Customer Engagement and Marketing, more recently she has been studying Cyber security Policy and Management at the University of Maryland, University College (UMUC). She earned her Doctor of Management, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science Degree in Technology Management at UMUC and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing at the University of Baltimore. Dr. Day is also an Adjunct Professor at Norwich University in Vermont, where she teaches Cyber security, Critical Infrastructure and Information Assurance courses to a myriad of students, worldwide, from across the intelligence community. A published author, Baltimore Ravens fan, and life-long learner, she enjoys writing, traveling, cooking, and most importantly, spending time with her family and friends.