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EPMS Questions and Answers

1. Why are we doing this?

2. Why do you refer to the new system as the Executive Performance Management System (EPMS)?

3. What are the features/benefits of EPMS?

4. Is the new form better than the old one?

5. Where can I find the new form?

6. Will EPMS apply to Senior Professionals (i.e. ST/SL)?

7. Will training and additional assistance be provided?

8. Why is the basic government-wide system now based on the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs)?

9. Who can I call for help in writing a performance plan?

10. Can DOC bureaus and operating units add additional, more specific expectations under the Leading Change, Leading People, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions critical elements?

11. Will EPMS drive strategic alignment from organizational goals to executive performance elements as currently required?

12. Does EPMS require specific weights for each critical element?

13. How are the critical element weights established?

14. How is the “Results Driven” performance element under EPMS different from the results-focused “Business Results” critical element currently in place?

15. What are the rating levels and what are they called?

16. How is the rating derived for each critical element?

17. How do you derive the initial summary rating?

18. When should I expect to learn what my final rating was, whether or not I got a pay increase and/or performance bonus, and if I did, when will I see it in my check?

19. What is the process for making final decisions about my performance rating and recommended pay increase/performance bonus? Why does it take so long?

1. Why are we doing this?

The principle reasons are twofold; first, it’s mandated by law and regulation. According to 5 U.S.C 4312, agencies with SES members (i.e. subject to 5 U.S.C chapter 43 and 5 CFR 430) must have their SES performance management systems approved by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and OPM is driving implementation of this new system government-wide for all SES. Additionally, by law (5 U.S.C. 5307(d)) and regulation (5 CFR 430 subpart D) agencies must have their SES performance management systems certified by OPM, with concurrence by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to set SES member basic pay up to the Executive Level II ($179,700 in 2013) and pay a higher aggregate limit (i.e. up to the Vice President’s salary). Both processes will be streamlined when using OPM’s new system.

If DOC were to lose certification, pay for newly hired executives could not exceed the Executive Level III ($165,300 in 2013) rate of pay, and DOC executives making salaries above this level already could not receive a pay increase under any circumstances, including for reassignments or promotions to positions of greater scope and responsibility. As DOC is currently certified, our pay cap is the Executive Level II rate of pay.

Second, it is a good management practice. The system is designed to provide alignment with agency strategic plans and balanced scorecard objectives, thereby driving accountability for mission accomplishment. Executive accountability for mission accomplishment provides a solid foundation for good stewardship of tax payer dollars.

2. Why do you refer to the new system as the Executive Performance Management System (EPMS)?

The new system being deployed in FY 2014 is being referred to as “EPMS” here at the Department in order to more easily distinguish it from the legacy system that will soon be phased out. However, EPMS is in fact the basic performance appraisal system that is being deployed government-wide.

3. What are the features/benefits of EPMS?

OPM maintains that having a government-wide SES performance management system promotes consistency, clarity, equity, and transferability of performance processes, standards, feedback and ratings throughout Government. In addition, by basing the critical elements on the five executive core qualifications (ECQs), EPMS allows for a lifecycle-approach to performance management, where the same criteria that were used initially to evaluate SES employees before their appointment into the SES continue to be used to judge their performance.

4. Is the new form an improvement over the old one?

Yes!! The new form is provided in an easy to use Word format that allows for multiple pages to be added easily while maintaining the formatting and headings of the form.

5. Where can I find the new form?

The EPMS Executive Performance Agreement Form can be found on the OHRM website and will also be provided to you by your servicing human resources office.

6. Will EPMS apply to Senior Professionals (i.e. ST/SL) and other members above the GS-15 level?

No. This system was designed to appraise SES members only. The current performance management system (using form CD-518) used to appraise ST/SL performance will continue unchanged into the foreseeable future.

7. Will training and additional assistance be provided?

Absolutely! OPM is requiring that all DOC SES members be trained on how the new system works prior to its implementation. Five instructor-led training sessions are planned for July/August 2013, and an online Commerce Learning Center (CLC) course will be offered with the same basic content as the in-person sessions. Subsequently, clinics will be organized by the Commerce servicing human resources offices to help executives write their plans. In addition, current SES employees will be identified within each bureau that are willing and able to provide peer to peer advice to fellow executives in the development of their performance plans under the new system.

8. Why is the basic government-wide system now based on the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs)?

The statistically validated ECQs have served as the foundation for selecting and developing Federal executives across Government for over 14 years. Using the ECQ-based system to appraise and recognize Federal executives will complete a holistic approach for not only selecting and developing Federal executives, but also for appraising, recognizing, and retaining a diverse cadre of high-performing Federal executives. With the ECQs as a framework, the Federal Government can ensure a performance management system applicable to all executive position responsibilities and performance expectations, as well as maintain a balanced emphasis on strategic leadership and results.

9. Who can I call for help in writing a performance plan?

There are many folks close by that are ready to help, whether it’s the HR liaison for your bureau or line office, the executive resources specialist in your servicing human resources office, or an SES employee in your bureau that has volunteered to share their experience and expertise. Contact lists for all of these folks throughout the Department have been compiled and posted on the OHRM website.

10. Can DOC bureaus and operating units add additional, more specific expectations under the Leading Change, Leading People, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions critical elements?

Yes. In addition to the minimum government-wide standards provided and the Department-wide “pick-list” that will soon be provided with the Agency-Specific Performance Requirements, executives, in consultation with their supervisors, may establish additional performance requirements for these critical elements to increase the usefulness and specificity needed to objectively gauge performance. These additional requirements are documented under Agency-Specific Performance Requirements.

11. Will EPMS drive strategic alignment from organizational goals to executive performance elements as currently required?

Yes, OPM requires that the performance requirements within the Results Driven performance element be strategically aligned. Given that, it is highly recommended that the measurable outcomes included under this critical element be derived directly from relevant Balanced Scorecard measures, and from the bureau’s and DOC strategic plans, where applicable. In addition, executives can incorporate specific requirements with such alignment within the other four critical elements.

12. Does EPMS require specific weights for each critical element?

Each critical element has a minimum required percentage weight, all adding up to a total weight of 100%. The minimum weight assigned to the Results-Driven critical element is 20%. The minimum weight for each of the other four critical elements is 5%, with no single critical element weighing more than the Results-Driven critical element. The weight for the Results Driven critical element cannot exceed 80%.

13. How are the critical element weights established?

Element weights may be established based upon the performance requirements of each executive and may vary from year to year. The weights are to be determined as part of the required consultation process per 5 CFR 404(a) (2), with executives’ immediate supervisors having final authority to establish the weights should agreement not be reached during consultation.

14. How is the “Results Driven” performance element under EPMS different from the results-focused “Business Results” critical element currently in place?

They are very similar in that the Results Driven critical element must include all measurable results, derived from and aligned with the line office’s balanced scorecard as well as bureau and DOC strategic plans. However, instead of a mandatory 60% weight (or 35% weight for designated communities of practice), bureaus and line offices now have the flexibility to more fully reflect key priorities for their own executives within the performance plan template by carefully selecting the applicable weights for each critical element, observing the 20% minimum for this critical element (see previous FAQ). It is important to note that 100% of the content of the Results Driven element meets OPM’s criteria for “measurable results.”

15. What are the rating levels and what are they called?

EPMS, like the outgoing system, utilizes five levels:

Level 5 – Outstanding

Level 4 – Exceeds Fully Successful

Level 3 – Fully Successful

Level 2 – Minimally Satisfactory

Level 1 – Unsatisfactory.

16. How is the rating derived for each critical element?

Within the Results Driven critical element, the rating is derived through a narrative methodology as described below, based on the executive’s performance vis-à-vis each performance requirement:

Outstanding: All performance requirements are rated Outstanding

Exceeds Fully Successful: A majority of the performance requirements are rated at least Exceeds, with none below Fully Successful

Fully Successful: A majority of the performance requirements are rated at Fully Successful, with none below Fully Successful

Minimally Satisfactory: One or more performance requirements are rated at Minimally Satisfactory

Unsatisfactory: One or more performance requirements are rated at Unsatisfactory

For the other four critical elements, one overall rating is provided for each.

17. How do you derive the initial summary rating?

Once the rating for each critical element is determined, the following point values will be assigned to the element ratings:

Level 5 = 5 points

Level 4 = 4 points

Level 3 = 3 points

Level 2 = 2 points

Level 1 = 0 points

These points are then multiplied by the weight for that critical element, and then the critical element scores are added up to determine the total score and the summary rating. An example is provided below for a Level 4 initial summary rating (Exceeds Fully Successful):

Critical Element

Rating Level

Weight

Score

Summary Level Range

Initial Element Score

Initial Point Score

1. Leading Change

4

15

4 x 15 = 60

475-500 = Level 5

400-474 = Level 4

300-399 = Level 3

200-299 = Level 2

Any CE rated Level 1 = Level 1

2. Leading People

5

15

5 x 15 = 75

3. Business Acumen

3

15

3 x 15 = 45

4. Building Coalitions

4

15

4 x 15 = 60

5. Results Driven

4

40

4 x 40 = 160

Total

 

100%

400

The point ranges for determining the summary rating are:

475-500 = Level 5

400-474 = Level 4

300-399 = Level 3

200-299 = Level 2

Any critical element rated Level 1 = Level 1

18. When should I expect to learn what my final rating was, whether or not I got a pay increase and/or performance bonus, and if I did, when will I see it in my pay check?

Final decisions on SES performance ratings, bonuses, and pay increases can only be communicated after approval by the Secretary of Commerce, typically in mid to late December. Bonuses and pay increases are then generally paid out in the first pay period in January.

19. What is the process for making final decisions about my performance rating and recommended pay increase/performance bonus? Why does it take so long?

The Secretary of Commerce makes the final decision on ratings and pay increase/performance bonuses only after review of your supervisor’s recommendations at the operating unit and Department level. First, your operating unit’s performance review board (PRB) examines the initial summary rating and pay increase/performance bonus recommendations of your supervisor, and then passes their recommended changes (if any) to your bureau’s appointing authority for their consideration. Your appointing authority (either the Under Secretary or other Secretarial Officer) then considers the PRBs’ input and makes recommendations for consideration at the Department level by the Departmental Executive Review Board (DERB). Once the DERB has deliberated, their recommendations are passed the Secretary for final decisions.

These layers of review are designed to ensure that performance ratings and recommended pay increases/performance bonuses are truly linked to performance and that distinctions in relative performance are made.