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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 this approach would “treat employees like responsible adults” and would include alternative work schedules, telework and other flexibilities.

He says part of this idea to increase flexibilities is to eliminate the classification system that parses the grades and steps and attempts to define every job in great detail.

“The classification system was designed with a noble purpose – to ensure equal pay for equal work. And that is a core value to which we must pay great deference,” he says. “But when it prevents managers from adapting their job responsibilities to the ever-shifting responsibilities of their departments, it becomes a millstone. And classification today has become so stilted, and our HR staffers have become so used to manipulating it, that in the words of one of them, ‘a good classifier could make a Dixie cup a GS-14.’”

He adds that the classification system is no longer protecting equal pay, but limiting flexibilities of managers to define jobs and promote the most qualified people quickly.

Finally, Berry offers some ideas around performance-both good and bad.

While he realizes it’s not easy to solve, he would cut the number of appraisal categories to three-outstanding, in good standing and not in good standing-from the five that agencies currently use-outstanding, more than fully successful, fully successful, less than fully successful and unsuccessful.

Berry suggests opening up performance pay to all employees with SES employees being eligible for an extra five percent bonus. Again, Berry offers that a performance review board could be the final arbiter on who receives bonuses.

“At the end of it, we need to build a timely appeals process that ensures fairness,” he says. “What if we modeled something after our jury system? With a panel with representatives from labor, management and other stakeholder groups that would review your file, hear your case and get you a quick decision. But frivolous complainers beware, because this panel can move your ratings in both directions, not just up. And managers beware because they could discipline you too if you weren’t doing your job.”

And as for firing consistently unsuccessful employee, Berry says it should only be done as a matter of last resort, but it shouldn’t be so difficult.

“The decision to fire someone has to be fair and the reasons have to be clear,” he says. “It has to be reviewed, because the power to take away someone’s livelihood shouldn’t rest in one person’s hands.”

Berry emphasizes that none of these suggestions are final, and he wants to start a dialogue with all interested parties.

“This is an attempt to begin a dialogue that’s going to be an ongoing on over the next couple of years as we attempt to build a straw dog that we can propose as an administration initiative to reform the civil service. I did not propose an initiative tonight. I began a discussion. By doing that, it is a specific attempt to put the ideas out there and invite the comments.”

See the original article at

  • 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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