The Department of Defense is rolling out the first phase of its new performance evaluation system April 1. AFGE has been part of the development process all along, but it appears the first phase of the system won’t include AFGE members who are crucial to its success. The problem? DoD didn’t finish the policies and procedures by the original deadline in June 2015. When they were finally released on February 4, 2016, not enough time was allowed for local unions to meet with management as required by law to ensure we didn't have another failed personnel system on our hands.
We need to have a unified, consistent system that has everyone on the same schedule. No head starts, no laggards.
The new performance evaluation system, called New Beginnings, was created after authority for the failed National Security Personnel System (NSPS) was repealed by Congress in 2010. At the direction of lawmakers, DoD worked with employee unions led by AFGE to address performance management, hiring, and rewards and incentives.
So far, New Beginnings has all the right parts its predecessor did not. It includes input from experts – the very employees who suffered under NSPS – who've helped craft a much-improved model.
But before the new system was rolled out, local unions were supposed to be able to enter into an agreement with management to make sure it was fairly and appropriately implemented.
The law requires that performance appraisals be based on objective performance standards that are established for their jobs. In addition, AFGE locals are able to negotiate with management to make sure the standards are realistic and attainable.
Employees also need to know how the rules work and how they'll be rated, which takes time in such a large workforce. DoD and employee representatives have to work together to educate and provide training for both supervisors and employees.
But that didn’t happen. With a new deadline looming, this oversight presents a major obstacle to successful implementation.
DoD set an arbitrary date of April 1 to roll out the first phase of the system to about 14,000 employees and supervisors. But union members will not transition until bargaining has been completed.
By effectively excluding union members, DoD, employee representatives, and Congress won't have an accurate way to gauge the new system’s potential problems. Parts that need fixing won't get the attention they need while the program rolls out over the next three years. In addition, DoD’s current timetable would have supervisors being evaluated under New Beginnings while those same supervisors evaluate their employees under an entirely different system.
“It makes no sense. It will lead to confusion,” said Don Hale, chairman of AFGE's Defense Conference. “I spent seven years of my life working on this system. I fully support New Beginnings. I think it gives DoD an opportunity to use our knowledge and expertise to shape the workforce of the future. I’m all in, and so is my union. We just want it done correctly. We want to be there the first day that this is implemented so we can grow with it and be part of the development of this new system. That is vitally important to the [system’s] success.”
AFGE wants a successful rollout for employees and supervisors. DoD just needs to get everything right before moving ahead.