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OPM's Berry Deals Out First Set of Civil Service Reform Suggestions

OPM's Berry Deals Out First Set of Civil Service Reform Suggestions

OPM Director John Berry

Jason Miller | Executive Editor | FederalNewsRadio

November 03, 2009

Berry says training is necessary because some of his ideas on how to change the civil service systems would require skills that many managers and employees don’t have now.

“Getting the best people into the positions where they’re most needed is, in my opinion, one of the greatest organizational challenges facing the federal government today,” he says. “The problem here is the systems, not the people. Every day I come to work, I see great employees and great managers who are hamstrung by regulations that are unnecessary or have outlived their usefulness.”

To start with, Berry asks if the federal appraisal system and career ladders should be broken down into three categories: apprentice, journey-level and expert.

He asks whether such a system could evaluate the entire person and their skills, and not tied to a specific position.

“Maybe such a three-stage system could help ensure that we’re promoting the best people, and it would take some of the pressure off of the hiring decision,” he says. “We don’t want hiring managers to be paralyzed by the thought that they’re hiring people for life. Maybe the entire apprentice stage is probationary or maybe the probationary period is shorter, but instead we require an affirmative step to keep someone on at the end of their probation instead of automatically tenuring them. So we have the concept of setting a high bar at the beginning of each of the three stages. What might that bar look like? For me, the three most important qualities are fairness, comprehensiveness, and transparency.”

Berry says there could be independent performance review boards to determine when the employee is ready to move from apprentice to journey level or journey level to expert.

Each of these stages would have workable standards that agencies apply uniformly, and the employee’s entire breadth of work inside and outside government could be a part of the discussion.

And all of this would be transparent to both the employee and the manager. Berry, time and again, stressed transparency as a key piece to any and all HR reforms.

He says one reason DoD’s National Security Personnel System failed it was not transparent to the employee unions. Berry promises he will not make that same mistake on any of the HR changes.

Another idea Berry has is the concept to results-only work environment (ROWE).

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    This article started out talking about hiring and ended one sentence later. This is my biggest complaint with the government hiring process. It is controlled by people who already have government positions and they do not know how to let outsiders in. After the first sentence Berry talks about the pay system, the bonus system, training, getting the best people into the positions where they’re most needed, every day I come to work, I see great employees and great managers, and the federal appraisal system. Well to me the government has a great pay system. If you come to work looking for a bonus in your pay at the end of the week then you took a position that does not meet your financial needs and you should not have done that. I have never heard of a soldier, sailor, air-man or marine receiving any bonus in their pay at the end of the month and they are in the most difficult positions that this government has to offer and they do not complain. I agree with Berry on training for non military positions but it should not be forced on or denied to anyone. If someone likes their current position and pay they should be allowed to keep it as long as they continue to meet their production standards and no one should be denied training if they want or require it in order to prosper. As a supervisor, or any person in a leadership position it is your duty to promote or try to promote your best employees into positions where they can best benefit the company or the government even if this means losing them in your particular branch. What this does is place the best people into the positions where they are most needed. Berry also talks about the federal appraisal system well I do not know much about it because I can not get hired but if its anything like the military appraisal system it is a tool designed to present a synapses of a persons overall ability and suitability for their current and future positions within a company or the government. There is never a need to change appraisal systems. There is a need to force the writers of appraisals to validate the appraisals that they give to their subordinates because too many people with the top score will invalidate an appraisal system Berry says a lot of things in this article some I agree with some of them I don’t but if he would like to know what they are he’s with the government and can track me down if he wants to.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    It would be nice if they would actually hire qualified people instead of just giving the positions to spouses and family members.

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