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OPM announces more flexibility in SES, SL/ST performance reviews

The Office of Personnel Management has announced changes to the performance evaluation processes for Senior Executive Service and Senior Level/Scientific and Professional personnel. The revised process, called Certification 2.0, is expected to reduce the administrative burden of preparing and reviewing certification submissions. It is also meant to focus more of the OPM certification on the actual outcomes of performance evaluations rather than on compliance.

"We believe these improvements will reduce agency burden by removing procedural hurdles and will better position OPM as a strategic advisor to agencies on improving employee performance management," said the acting OPM director in a memo to agency heads.

Certification 2.0 only applies to agencies that request certification of their OPM-approved, basic SES or SL/ST performance appraisal systems. Agencies with their own performance evaluation systems will continue using the SES or SL/ST Performance Appraisal Assessment Tool processes, according to OPM guidance on the issue.

The new system is expected to offer greater flexibility and reduce administrative costs. Fully-certified evaluation systems can now be renewed for two years. There is no longer a requirement for agencies to submit performance plans with their certification requests. Agencies will still have to develop performance plans as required by regulation, and their oversight officials will have to verify those plans' legal compliance in their certification applications.

In addition, the new system will allow greater pay differentiation between senior personnel based on performance awards and performance-based pay adjustments. Additionally, agencies that have their systems certified will be given access to higher employee pay options.

The acting OPM director considers Certification 2.0 to be in support of the President's Management Agenda, which has a particular focus on tying federal reward systems more closely to employee performance.

The system will begin being implemented on Jan. 7.

Whenever there are changes to the employee performance appraisal system, there is the potential for errors to occur. When they do, federal agencies have a responsibility to address the errors fairly. If you feel your performance appraisal has been affected by changes like those occurring in Certification 2.0, you should discuss your situation with a lawyer familiar with federal employment law.

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