Issued 02/13/98; Effective 02/06/98;
Reviewed Last: 12/08/2020
SECTION 1. PURPOSE.
This Order establishes policy and procedures for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) General Workforce Performance Appraisal Program.
SECTION 2. LEGAL REQUIREMENTS AND AUTHORITIES.
The legal requirements and authorities described in title 5, United States Code, Chapter 43(5 U.S.C. Chapter 43) Subchapter I; title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 430(5 CFR Part 430), Subparts A and B; and the Department of Commerce (DOC) Performance Appraisal System Description approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on August 19, 1996, apply.
SECTION 3. POLICY AND OBJECTIVES.
It is the policy of NOAA that, within the framework provided by this program, individual and organizational goals will be communicated to employees, individual responsibility for accomplishing team and organizational goals will be identified, performance will be evaluated and improved where necessary, and the results of performance management will be used as a basis for appropriate personnel actions. All participants in this process should expect to be held accountable for accomplishing their performance management responsibilities.
SECTION 4. COVERAGE.
.01 The policies contained in this document apply to all NOAA employees except the following:
- Employees in the Senior Executive Service;
- Presidential appointees;
- Administrative law judges appointed under 5 U.S.C. 3105;
- NOAA Corps Commissioned Officers;
- Positions for which employment is not reasonably expected to exceed 120 calendar days in a consecutive 12-month period;
- Employees outside the United States who are paid in accordance with local native prevailing wage rates;
- Employees under demonstration projects authorized by 5 U.S.C. Chapter 47 where all or part of 5 CFR Part 430, Subpart B, are waived (e.g., DOC demonstration project);
- Individuals occupying positions, not in the competitive service, excluded from coverage by the Office of Personnel Management under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 4301(2)(G); and
- Experts and consultants.
.02 Any administrative action already initiated when this program becomes effective must continue to be processed consistent with the procedures and requirements of the program in effect when the action was initiated.
SECTION 5. DEFINITIONS.
For purposes of this 0rder, the following definitions apply.
Critical Element means a mission-based outcome or end product that is essential to overall success in the position.
Interim Rating is a summary level assigned during a rating cycle to document the performance of an employee who is changing positions (if the employee served in the position for 120 days or more) or is completing a detail or temporary promotion of 120 days or more. The interim rating is not a rating of record but is factored into the final summary level assigned the employee at the end of the rating cycle.
Performance Indicator (performance standard as defined in 5 CFR 430.203) means a statement of the performance expectations or requirements necessary for achieving the critical elements of the position. NOAA's generic performance indicators include quality, team work, and customer service measures, and they are designed to be a focal point for discussions between rating officials and employees throughout the rating period.
Performance Plan means the employee's critical elements and the NOAA generic performance indicators.
Progress Review means a discussion between the rating official and the employee held during the appraisal period to review the employee's progress toward achieving critical elements, to make any necessary revisions to the critical elements, and to consider any developmental needs or performance improvement required.
Rating Official means the individual responsible for working with an employee to determine critical elements and identify performance indicators. The rating official conducts progress reviews and, at the end of the rating period, evaluates employee performance and prepares the rating of record. Rating officials may be supervisors, employees who meet the definition of a supervisor (Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA)) in 5 U.S.C. 7103(a)(10), or commissioned officers assigned to supervisory or supervisory (CSRA) positions.
Rating Period means the period of time during which the employee's performance is observed for the purpose of assigning a rating of record. The official rating period is one year beginning October 1 and ending September 30. The official rating period for wage marines is one year beginning November 1 and ending October 31. The rating period can be extended for duties that warrant it, when an employee is on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), is unratable, or when other special circumstances dictate.
Rating of Record means the official summary level signed and approved at the end of the rating period.
Reviewing Official means t he individual who is responsible for reviewing and approving "Does Not Meet Expectations" ratings. The reviewing official may review "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" ratings and perform other review functions as prescribed by the Line/Staff/Program Office.
Summary Level means the rating (i.e., "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" or "Does Not Meet Expectations") assigned to describe the employee's overall performance.
Unacceptable means a rating of "Does Not Meet Expectations" in one or more critical elements. It reflects unacceptable performance in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 4301(3).
SECTION 6. RESPONSIBILITIES.
.01 Employees are responsible for:
- participating with their rating official in determining critical elements and related performance indicators and revising them as necessary during the rating period;
- ensuring that they have a clear understanding of their rating official's expectations and requesting clarification if necessary;
- managing their performance to achieve critical elements and bringing circumstances that may affect achievement of critical elements to the rating official's attention;
- wherever possible, seeking performance feedback from their rating official and their internal and external customers;
- participating in discussions of their performance; and
- taking action to improve aspects of performance identified as needing improvement.
.02 Rating Officials are responsible for:
- determining critical elements and performance indicators with employee input and documenting them on the performance plan;
- monitoring employee performance during the rating period and communicating with employees on an ongoing basis about their performance;
- conducting at least one progress review for each employee between the initial annual planning session and the end of the rating period;
- wherever possible, obtaining and using feedback from internal and external customers, team members, coworkers, or others as appropriate, concerning employee performance;
- assisting employees throughout the rating period in improving aspects of performance identified as needing improvement;
- preparing the rating of record and meeting with employees to discuss their individual ratings and developmental needs;
- recognizing employees who demonstrate high-quality performance and ensuring that there is equity and consistency of consideration for Quality Step Increases in the organization for which they are responsible;
- taking remedial action, in accordance with 5 CFR 432, for employees who do not achieve one or more individual critical elements;
- maintaining ratings of record for four years in an Employee Performance File; and
- ensuring that, when an employee transfers to another agency, the employee's ratings of record for the last four years are transferred to the gaining agency.
.03 Reviewing Officials are responsible for reviewing and approving "Does Not Meet Expectations" ratings of record, and where required, for:
- reviewing and concurring in performance plans developed by rating officials and employees;
- reviewing and approving "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" ratings of record prepared by rating officials; and
- resolving with rating officials and employees their differences of opinion concerning employee ratings, and adjusting the ratings, if necessary.
.04 Line Office/Staff Office/Program Office (LO/SO/PO) Heads are responsible for:
- implementing and supporting the performance management program, documenting any discretionary options involving approval levels within the Office, and communicating the program elements to employees; and
- developing, documenting, and implementing an award program for their Office, and communicating program information to employees.
.05 Human Resources Offices are responsible for:
- communicating the purpose and procedures of the performance management program and its relationship to the overall personnel management system to LO/SO/PO Heads;
- providing instruction on how to identify critical elements;
- providing training and/or orientation on the operation of the program for employees who are responsible for, or subject to, the system;
- coordinating and submitting required reports on the operation of the program; and
- participating in the development and implementation of a monitoring and evaluation program.
SECTION 7. PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL PROCESS.
.01 The performance appraisal process involves three distinct stages: performance planning, progress review, and appraisal. Each stage of NOAA's program provides a point at which rating officials and employees shall meet to discuss performance objectives, assessment towards these objectives, and developmental opportunities to enhance performance. Furthermore, NOAA encourages continuous communication throughout the process, from development of the plan, through the progress reviews, and ending with the final appraisal.
a. Performance Plan. Employee involvement in the development of these plans is consistent with 5 CFR 430.206 which specifies that "Agencies shall encourage employee participation in establishing performance plans."
1. Critical Elements.
(a) At the beginning of the rating period, the rating official will meet with the employee to identify two to five critical elements that the employee is expected to meet during the rating period. Critical elements must reflect major duties and responsibilities which are consistent with current job assignments and with the duties described in the employee's position description. Critical elements may address the individual results that an employee is expected to accomplish as well as an employee's individual participation in accomplishing team and organizational goals. In keeping with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), critical elements should be mission-related outcomes and reflect specific results outlined in the NOAA strategic plan and Office operating plans. The rating official will document the critical elements in Part I of the Performance Plan, Progress Review and Appraisal Record (Appendix A) within 60 days after the beginning of the rating period or when the employee has a significant change in critical elements.
(b) For any job designated as supervisory, duties such as recommending or making human resources decisions, developing and appraising subordinates, fulfilling equal opportunity responsibilities and managing diversity, must be addressed in one or more critical elements.
2. NOAA Generic Performance Indicators. These performance indicators (NOAA's performance standards) are contained in Appendix B. The rating official will determine to what extent the quality, teamwork, and customer service performance indicators apply to each critical element. Definitions of the performance indicators are provided and must be discussed with the employee at the beginning of the rating period to ensure a common understanding of performance expectations.
3. Before the performance plan is signed by the employee and rating official, it will be reviewed, signed, and dated by the reviewing official, in those offices where a reviewingofficial is required. If the rating and reviewing officials do not concur, the reviewing official will make the final determination.
4. The employee and rating official will sign and date the performance plan in Part B of the Form CD-516, Classification and Performance Management Record (Appendix C). The employee's signature indicates that the performance plan has been discussed with the employee; it does not certify that the employee concurs with the plan.
5. The rating official will provide a copy of the signed performance plan to the employee. The performance plan can be modified by the rating official and employee during a progress review or at any other time during the rating period.
6. When an employee enters a covered position or changes positions after the start of the appraisal period, a performance plan must be established and approved within 60 days of the effective date of the appointment to the new position.
7. When an employee is detailed or temporarily promoted to a covered position and is expected to serve in the position for 120 days or more, the employee must have an approved performance plan within 60 days of the beginning of the detail or temporary promotion.
b. Progress Review.
1. Rating officials must conduct at least one progress review with each employee between the initial annual planning session and the end of the rating period. At the conclusion of each progress review, the rating official and employee will initial and date Part II of the Performance Plan, Progress Review and Appraisal Record.
2. During each progress review, the rating official and employee will discuss the employee's progress toward achieving critical elements, any necessary revisions in critical elements, and any performance improvement or developmental needs. In the event that the employee has not had an opportunity to perform a critical element, theperformance plan should be modified or action should be taken to ensure that the employee is given an opportunity to perform that critical element.
3. For an employee who meets performance expectations for critical elements, progress review discussions may be summarized in Part II. For an employee who is not meeting expectations, the rating official must document the specific problem areas and describe how performance must be improved in order to obtain a "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" rating.
1. Eligibility for Rating. To be eligible for a summary level and/or rating of record, an employee must have worked under a performance plan for at least 120 days.
2. Critical Element Rating. Within 30 days following the end of the rating period, the rating official will consider the employee's performance during the rating period and assign a rating of "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" or "Does Not Meet Expectations" for each critical element. Rating officials will obtain feedback concerning the employee's performance from the employee and, as appropriate, from internal and external customers, coworkers, team members, or other individuals who have knowledge of the employee's performance.
3. Summary Level. An employee must have met or exceeded expectations for all critical elements based on individual performance in order to be assigned a summary level of "Meets or Exceeds Expectations." An employee who does not meet expectations for one or more critical elements based on individual performance will receive a summary level of "Does Not Meet Expectations."
(a) For employees assigned a summary level of "Meets or Exceeds Expectations," the rating official is encouraged to include narrative comments in Part III of the Performance Plan, Progress Review and Appraisal Record. For employees assigned a summary level of "Does Not Meet Expectations," the rating official must provide a written explanation describing the specific areas in which the employee failed to achieve critical elements and the employee must be placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).
(b) A "Does Not Meet Expectations" rating of record, assigned by the rating official, must be approved by the reviewing official.
(c) A "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" rating of record is reviewable at LO/SO/PO discretion subject to provisions of paragraph 6.04 of this Order. If the rating and reviewing officials do not concur, the reviewing official will make the final determination.
(d) If an employee has served on a detail to another Federal agency for 120 days or more during the appraisal cycle, or an assignment in a Federally-sponsored program such as Intergovernmental Personnel Act or President's Executive Exchange, the rating official must make a reasonable effort to obtain an interim summary level from the other agency on the employee's performance on the detail or assignment. If the interim rating is obtained, it must be considered in deriving the employee's rating of record at the end of the appraisal cycle. If the employee has served for the entire rating cycle on detail to another agency and an appraisal of performance cannot be obtained despite reasonable efforts, the employee's current rating of record must be extended. If the employee has no current rating of record, the employee must be considered unratable and treated as though having received a "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" rating.
(e) If an employee has begun, but not completed, an opportunity period to improve performance to an acceptable level as of the last day of the appraisal period, the rating will be deferred until the completion of the opportunity period.
(f) When a rating official changes positions or leaves with less than 120 days remaining in the appraisal period, ratings must be completed for the employees. These ratings will serve as the rating of record for the appraisal period and the time remaining in the appraisal period will be included in the following appraisal period. Such appraisals will be effective on the date of the transfer of the rating official.
(g) If an employee has not served in a position of record for 120 days of the appraisal period, but has served in one other position for which an interim rating was prepared, that interim rating will become the employee's rating of record for the appraisal cycle.
(a) An employee may be unratable because of entry into a position within the last 119 days of the appraisal period; time in a non-pay status; long-term training; service on a Federally sponsored program such as an Intergovernmental Personnel Act or President's Executive Exchange assignment for which appraisal information is not available; the rating official's leaving the agency where no other rating official can reasonably appraise the employee's performance; service on detail to another Federal agency for which performance appraisal information is not available; or approved absence.
(b) As stated in subparagraph 4. above, the current rating of record of an employee who is unratable on the last day of the appraisal period is extended if the employee is not working in a position which can provide the basis for appraisal (e.g., the employee is continuing on long-term training) and is not expected to return to such a position within 120 days. If the employee has no rating of record, the employee must be considered unratable and is treated as though having received a "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" rating.
.02 Appraisal Discussion.
a. The employee may schedule a pre-appraisal meeting with the rating official to present a self assessment of results achieved against the performance indicators set in the performance plan, inform the rating official of aspects of the work of which the rating official may not be aware, and identify objectives the employee would like to include in the performance plan for the next period. If a pre-appraisal meeting is not initiated by the employee, the rating official may solicit a voluntary self-assessment from the employee.
b. Following any necessary approval of the annual rating of record, the rating official will discuss the rating and any developmental needs with the employee. The rating official will provide advance notice to the employee of the date and time for the formal appraisal meeting.
c. Following the discussion, the rating official will ask the employee to sign Part IV of the Performance Plan, Progress Review and Appraisal Record to indicate that the rating has been discussed. If the employee declines to sign the rating, the rating official will so note on the form and include any written comments provided by the employee.
d. If the employee disagrees with the rating and wishes to have a higher level review, the employee must give written comments within five workdays to the designated reviewing official (or the rating official's supervisor, if no reviewing official is designated). The reviewing official (or second-line supervisor) has 10 workdays to respond to the employee in writing. The reviewing official must document any rating change on the CD-516. If the employee remains dissatisfied with the rating after receiving the reviewing official's response, the employee may file a formal administrative grievance or a negotiated grievance as appropriate.
e. The rating official will ensure that the original of the rating of record, including any written comments provided by the employee, is included in the employee's Employee Performance File. The rating official will also ensure that a copy of the rating of record, with employee comments, is provided to the employee.
SECTION 8. RELATIONSHIP OF SUMMARY LEVEL TO OTHER PERSONNEL ACTIONS.
.01 Within-Grade Increase (WGI). An employee must have a current rating of record of "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" in order to be granted a WGI. An employee who has a current rating of record of "Does Not Meet Expectations" will not be granted a WGI until performance improves to the "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" level.
.02 Quality Step Increase (QSI). A QSI is an exceptional performance pay increase which provides faster than normal step increases for permanent general schedule employees who met all critical elements in their Performance Plan. This award is directly linked to the performance appraisal process. A QSI nomination must be accompanied by a Performance Plan, Progress Review and Appraisal Record that reflects specific narrative examples (in Part III) of how expectations were exceeded in achieving all critical elements.
.03 Promotion. In order to receive a promotion, an employee must have a current rating of record of "Meets or Exceeds Expectations."
.04 Training and Development. The performance plan, progress reviews, and summary level provide a basis and an opportunity to determine whether an employee's performance could be improved/enhanced by training or other developmental activities. Therefore, the rating official may use the rating of record as a basis for discussing the employee's developmental needs.
.05 Reduction-in-Force (RIF).
a. For RIF purposes, ratings of record are those given at the end of the appraisal period or the extended appraisal period; or the improved rating following an opportunity to demonstrate acceptable performance. An employee must not be assigned a new rating of record for the sole purpose of affecting RIF retention standing.
b. In a RIF, an employee will receive service credit based on an average of the employee's three most recent ratings of record received during the four-year period prior to the date of issuance of a specific RIF notice (or some other officially designated date). An employee will receive service credit of 12 years for a "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" rating of record and zero (0) years of service credit for a "Does Not Meet Expectations" rating of record. An employee who does not have a rating of record will be assigned a modal rating (e.g., Meets or Exceeds), which is the most common rating given in the last appraisal cycle (see 5 CFR 351.504(c)), and receive 12 years of service credit. An employee who transfers into NOAA from another agency will receive service credit of 12 years for any rating at the Fully Successful (or equivalent) level or above. AM.#2 An employee who does not have a rating of record will be asigned service credit in accordance with 5 CFR 351.
An employee who transfers into NOAA from another agency will receive service credit in accordance with 5 CFR 351.
.06 Awards. All awards, other than a QSI, are decoupled from the appraisal process and can be given at any time to recognize accomplishments or contributions as appropriate. Rating officials may submit employees for awards in accordance with their LO/SO/PO policy. A more detailed description of the NOAA awards program and policy is found in NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 202-451.
.07 Actions Based on Unacceptable Performance.
a. If at any time during the rating period (provided the employee has been covered by a performance plan for at least 120 days) an employee's performance is determined to be unacceptable ("Does Not Meet Expectations") in one or more individual critical elements, the employee will be given a performance improvement plan (PIP) and an opportunity to demonstrate acceptable ("Meets or Exceeds Expectations") performance. If the employee's performance does not improve to the "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" level during the opportunity period, action will be initiated to reduce in grade, reassign, or remove the employee. NOTE: If the unacceptable determination does not coincide with the end of the rating period, there is no need to complete the Performance Plan, Progress Review and Appraisal Record.
b. An action based on unacceptable performance may be taken at any time, either during or at the end of the appraisal cycle. Except for the exclusions stated in Section 2 of Department Administrative Order (DAO) 202-432, "Reduction in Grade and Removal Based on Unacceptable Performance," before an employee may be removed or demoted for unacceptable performance under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. Chapter 43, the employee is entitled to be informed in writing of the critical element(s) in which performance is deficient; be assisted to improve performance to an acceptable level; and be given the opportunity to demonstrate acceptable performance.
c. An employee whose performance is unacceptable must be notified in writing that the performance is unacceptable, and that the opportunity to improve the performance is being given. The written notice must also inform the employee of the critical elements in which performance is unacceptable and the performance standards required for retention. Such standards must be consistent with, and not more stringent than, the more generic standards stated in the plan. This formal notice will normally be preceded by some informal, oral feedback to the employee about the unacceptable performance.
d. Once the employee is notified in writing of the unacceptable performance, reasonable time is granted to demonstrate acceptable performance. Neither law nor regulation specifies what that period of time must be. It depends on the nature of the job, the level of the position, and the consequences of unacceptable performance. In any case, the period of time allowed must be commensurate with the requirements of the position. The notice need not specify an exact period; however, it is good practice to specify a minimum period to display improvement (e.g., not less than 30 days).
e. The efficacy of these notices may be increased by including the following information: specific examples of incidents, within the appraisal cycle, of unacceptable performance; where relevant, a description of the negative consequences of the performance deficiencies; a suggestion of steps the employee may take which would be expected to lead to improved performance such as, better work organization, time management, more follow-up; a statement of the steps the rating official plans to take to assist the employee to improve (e.g., training, counseling or personal assistance, or monitoring work more closely); and an explicit statement of the possible consequence of failure to improve within a reasonable period of time (i.e., removal, demotion, or reassignment).
SECTION 9. ACCOUNTABILITY AND OVERSIGHT.
.01 Rating officials are held accountable for the judicious and timely execution of their performance management responsibilities. Accountability will be emphasized through all levels of the supervisory chain up to, and including, the senior executive level. LO/SO/PO Heads must certify to the Director for Human Resources Management within 60 days of the beginning of the rating cycle, that all employees under their management are covered by a performance plan and, within 60 days of the end of the rating cycle, that all such employees have been appraised (see Attachment). Correction action may be pursued for failure to comply with these requirements.
.02 The effectiveness of the performance appraisal system is assessed through NOAA's ongoing oversight program. Evaluations focus on: (1) the adequacy of performance plans and ratings as related to accomplishments associated with the NOAA strategic and operating plans; (2) the satisfaction of our supervisors and employees with the system; (3) our technical compliance with the pertinent laws, Office of Personnel Management regulations, and Department/NOAA policy; (4) the usefulness of the performance indicators in prompting meaningful feedback to employees during progress reviews and appraisal discussions; and (5) the ability of the system to adequately deal with employees who fail to meet performance expectations.
SECTION 10. TRAINING AND INFORMATION.
Human resources offices are responsible for establishing appropriate training and orientation programs on the purpose and procedures of the appraisal system. Rating officials must in turn communicate to their employees the basic tenets of the performance management program, emphasize performance plan development, foster ongoing and open feedback on performance, and make clear the relationship between performance ratings and other personnel decisions.
SECTION 11. PROGRAM EVALUATION.
The effectiveness of the performance appraisal program is assessed by its ability to meet the stated objectives for the program: simplification, better and increased feedback on performance, awards tied to results, and fostering teamwork.
SECTION 12. RECORD KEEPING.
.01 Performance appraisal records and related documents will be maintained in accordance with the provisions of this document, the Privacy Act, the Freedom of Information Act, other legislative and regulatory requirements, and negotiated agreements.
a. Maintenance of the Employee Performance Folder (EPF) is delegated to the rating official. Performance ratings of record and the performance plans on which those ratings were based must be retained for four years. Performance records that are superseded (e.g., through an administrative or judicial procedure) must be destroyed.
b. Except where prohibited by law, automated records may be retained longer than four years for purposes of statistical analysis as long as the data are not used in any action affecting the employee when the manual record has been or should have been destroyed.
.02 When an employee transfers from one LO/SO/PO to another, from one operating unit to another within the Department, or to another Federal agency, the following performance records must be transferred: (1) performance ratings of record that are four years old or less; (2) the plan on which the most recent rating of record is based; and (3) the interim rating prepared when the employee changes positions.
.03 The Servicing Human Resources Office will obtain performance records from other Federal agencies when employees transfer to NOAA. The EPFs will be requested from the former agency at the same time as the Official Personnel Folder.
.04 Disclosure of performance-related information must be made only as permitted by the Privacy Act.
SECTION 13. EFFECT ON OTHER ISSUANCES.
This Order supersedes NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 202-430, NOAA Performance Management System, dated June 16, 1995.
Acting Chief Financial Officer/Acting Chief Administrative Officer
Office of Primary Interest:
Office of Finance and Administration
Human Resources Management Office