The Department of Defense will be rolling out the latest phase of its “New Beginnings” collaborative labor-management effort in April. The program, begun in the spring of 2016, is ready to fold in a large number of agencies and military services. The goal is to have a modern, standardized civilian employee management system throughout the department.

Federal Radio News reported on this next phase, focusing on the new employee rating system, which offers several changes to the current system.

One major change is that managers are now required to hold a minimum of three formal performance discussions with every employee on a yearly basis. These sessions will be documented, creating a paper trail of the employee’s progress.

The rating system has been changed, as well. The new ratings provide the manager three choices. They are 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.”

“… unacceptable work is defined as being unreliable, making poor decisions, failing to use skills required for the job and requiring more supervision than expected.”

About 14,000 DoD employees have been transitioned to “New Beginnings”.  Plans are to have all civilian employees in the program by 2018. In addition, the DoD is going to reissue the DoD Civilian Personnel Management System: Awards Instruction which will standardize the awards and the process for the entire department.

Ongoing Performance Vs. Annual Reviews

Paige Hinkle-Bowles, former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy told Federal News Radio that the ultimate goal is to focus on “improving overall performance management through continuous engagement between supervisors and employees.”

These changes were not unilateral. An eighteen month process that involved all stakeholders, including labor unions, went into bringing this to fruition. A total of three design teams made recommendations to senior DoD management. Most were accepted.

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Charles Simmins brings thirty years of accounting and management experience to his coverage of the news. An upstate New Yorker, he is a freelance journalist, former volunteer firefighter and EMT, and is owned by a wife and four cats.