Reader Survey: Pay for performance

The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on pay for performance is based on a telephone survey of 100 federal readers who on their subcription forms identified themselves as IT managers.

Has your agency implemented a pay-for-performance program?

Yes: 24%

No: 65%

Don't know: 11%

Talented not rewarded

Proponents of pay-for-performance say that the current system of giving everybody the same raise short changes talented, hardworking feds and taxpayers. Do you agree or disagree?

Agree: 54%

Disagree: 31%

Don't know: 15%

Fosters mediocrity?

Proponents also say that the current pay system limits the abilities of supervisors to get the most out of their staff. Do you agree or disagree?

Agree: 42%

Disagree: 43%

Don't know: 15%

Employee voices heard

Opponents of pay-for-performance say there isn't enough employee or union input into current government plans for pay-for-performance programs. Do you agree or disagree?

Agree: 39%

Disagree: 46%

Don't know: 15%

Divided on appeal

Opponents say that current plans limit the rights of unions and employees to appeal what they think are unfair decisions. Do you agree or disagree?

Agree: 40%

Disagree: 41%

Don't know: 19%

More effective government

Regardless of the pros and cons, do you think that the pay-for-performance approach will help make government more effective, effcient and competitive?

Yes: 52%

No: 34%

Don't know: 14%

Feds see benefits, and a few drawbacks, to new pay system.

The days when all federal employees received the same pay raise, regardless of performance, are coming to a close. But not without considerable resistance.

Now that government is striving to become more effective, efficient and competitive'in short, more like the private sector'it is adopting pay systems more like the private sector. One of the goals proposed by the President's Management Agenda, the pay-for-performance system would replace the General Schedule system, established in the late 1940s, that assigns all employees the same pay raise across the board.

Managers, for the most part, say the idea of rewarding high performers with higher pay is a good one. In a GCN telephone survey of IT managers, 54 percent said the current system of giving all federal workers the same raise, regardless of performance'good or bad'shortchanges talented, hardworking employees.

Yet feds in the sample are more divided about the effects of the current system on supervisors and their staffs. Forty-two percent said the current GS pay system limited the ability of supervisors to motivate staff to achieve the best results; 43 percent said it didn't.

Surveyed managers are also split about how the pay-for-performance program was designed. Thirty-nine percent said the program did not sufficiently take into account employee and union feedback; 46 percent said it did.

Likewise, respondents are sharply divided on the ability to appeal what they perceived as unfair decisions under the pay-for-performance plans. Forty percent said employees and unions had limited rights to appeal unfair decisions, while 41 percent disagreed.

And agencies are in no hurry to move to a pay-for-performance system. Despite the president's mandate, most survey respondents' agencies'65 percent'have yet to implement such a program.

Although the subject has spurred much debate among federal employees, the majority surveyed'52 percent'said pay for performance would ultimately lead to a more effective government.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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