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Vol. LVIII, No. 5
March 10, 2006
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New Performance Management Appraisal Program To Debut in June

The human resources folks at NIH are working to put in place a new performance program, at the behest of HHS. This is a single performance program that eventually will cover all operating divisions within the department. The new program provides an approach to help HHS employees achieve their specific performance goals. The program focuses on three key elements:

  • Improving performance and accountability

  • Providing clear expectations and feedback on progress toward target outcomes, and

  • Rewarding and recognizing exceptional performance for achieving challenging outcomes.

The NIH switchover is scheduled for June. It replaces the NIH Performance Appraisal Program Plan that had been in place since 1996. The new program will cover everyone (General Schedule, Title 42 and wage grade, including bargaining units) except Senior Executive Service and the Commissioned Corps. A massive employee education campaign is under way to make the transition smooth and understandable.

"One key goal of the new system is to make meaningful performance distinctions," said Helene Noble, director of the Workforce Relations Division in the Office of Human Resources. The new program has four "tiers" or possible employee summary ratings: exceptional, fully successful, minimally successful and unacceptable. This is a contrast from the present program, which uses just two (pass/fail). As in the current program, employees will be eligible for time off; quality step increases; and special act/service awards, as well as non-monetary awards. Also, based on summary ratings, employees will be eligible for performance awards at the conclusion of rating cycles. A number of existing processes and forms have been consolidated and simplified in the new program.

This is the time of year when, typically, supervisors are closing out calendar and fiscal year 2005 contracts and plans and establishing their employee performance contracts and plans for 2006. They should continue this process just as if nothing is changing. The NIH Office of Human Resources will provide guidance on how to transition to the new program at a later date.

Additional details of the new plan will emerge via all-hands emails from HHS, mandatory online training for employees and supervisors sponsored by HHS and a series of meetings both on and off campus where experts will explain the new system and take questions. Also, performance liaisons have been identified within each institute and center to serve as a resource and help ensure a smooth migration to the new program.

Look for more information in upcoming issues of the NIH Record.

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