DOD to Consider Civilian Management Recommendations
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2011 News reports that Defense Department civilians will be rated on a pass-fail system are premature and represent just a small piece of a larger set of recommendations, a senior defense official said today.
Pasquale “Pat” M. Tamburrino Jr., deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, told Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters that a pass-fail rating system is one of hundreds of recommendations he expects to receive in a final report within 30 days.
The report reflects more than a year’s work undertaken by three management-labor teams to review DOD performance management options, he said.
The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act directed the department to migrate out of the National Security Personnel System and develop an alternative personnel management system, he explained.
“The way we set out doing this is a process that is known as ‘New Beginnings,’” he added.
Tamburrino said that process brought together three teams of DOD employees from across the country, representing all ranks and a wide range of professional backgrounds, to examine performance management system design, evaluate rewards and recognitions available to civilian employees, and review the statutes and regulations that govern federal hiring as it pertains to the department.
He noted the team structure complies with President Barack Obama’s 2009 Executive Order 13522, which directs federal agencies to “allow employees and their union representatives to have predecisional involvement in all workplace matters to the fullest extent practicable.”
New Beginnings is the largest example of such labor-management collaboration he knows of since the executive order was issued, Tamburrino added.
The teams completed their review around Labor Day, and are preparing a final report. The major recommendations in the report have been briefed to department components, Tamburrino said.
“That report is advice to the Department of Defense,” he said. “When we get the final report, we will have an extensive set of meetings with the leadership to consider all of the recommendations.”
The teams focused strongly on how to create the culture of a high-performing organization, Tamburrino explained. He said the teams’ recommendations involve creating a “clear line of sight” from organizational leaders to employees, clarifying mission, employee contributions to mission, and how performance objectives reflect those contributions.
“They want routine conversations between supervisors and employees,” he added. “They want good performance recognized when it occurs.”
The teams also emphasized training supervisors to administer a performance management system, Tamburrino noted.
“It’s complex,” he said. “You have to set objectives, you have to have the ability to have a conversation, you have to have the ability to counsel somebody – both positively and negatively, as the case may be. [Team members] were of the mindset that we don’t put enough time into that.”
He said the bulk of the report addresses changing organizational culture to embrace the tenets of performance management: line of sight, good goals, good supervisors, recognizing good performance when it occurs and maintaining routine dialogue.
Tamburrino said defense officials have briefed several congressional committees on the developing performance management system, “and they’ve been very supportive of the deliberative process.”
He said when he receives the final report, he and other defense officials will confer with component representatives to consider all of the recommendations. “I want to get that done as quickly as possible,” he said.
Once defense officials have determined what performance management practices to adopt, they will work during 2012 to bring about any required changes to statutes, regulations and policies, Tamburrino added.
“After we sort that out, we will implement whatever the decisions are,” he said.
The report reflects “a huge amount” of work that ultimately will improve DOD’s civilian management, Tamburrino said.
“Capturing almost a year of effort in a single report is a complex task,” he acknowledged. “The teams are taking great care in the report preparation.”
The pass-fail rating system is a recommendation, Tamburrino said, and defense officials will evaluate the teams’ analysis supporting their view.
“As a primary message, the teams are emphasizing the things you have to do to create a high-performing environment,” he said. “What the teams really want [is] that we change the culture of DOD to embrace that.”
Tamburrino said his 34 years of federal service tell him people want to know how they’re doing every day, when they’ve done well and when they need to adjust their approach.
“People want to serve, and they want to do the right thing,” he added. “This just helps.”