The intelligence community's controversial pay-for-performance system is being undermined by a lack of trust, confusion over the performance ratings process, and the widespread belief that certain classes of employees are being favored, according to a new report released this evening.
The National Academy of Public Administration's report on the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System concluded that many intelligence employees believe performance ratings are being manipulated. Some believe that higher performance ratings are awarded to employees who do high-profile work directly supporting the agency's mission — such as intelligence collection — and administrative, technical, and other support workers are disadvantaged. Employees in the field, on the other hand, believe ratings are biased in favor of headquarters employees.
Congress last October suspended DCIPS through the end of 2010, and ordered the NAPA report to help figure out how to fix the system. The House wants to extend the suspension through the end of 2011.
The report concludes that DCIPS' design is fundamentally sound, but that its implementation has been flawed. DCIPS is hampered by a lack of communication with employees, not enough engagement from senior leaders, and incomplete policies on how performance appraisals and pay pool panels would work, the report said. Pay pool panels are groups of managers who review employees' performance ratings and help determine their payouts.
The report also said many employees are frustrated and confused by the suspension of DCIPS.
NAPA said DCIPS should continue as long as its policies are finalized and then disseminated to the work force. The report also said the intelligence community needs to review and possibly change policies that allow employees who have vastly different jobs to be assigned to the same pay pools, to make sure support employees are not disadvantaged.
The intelligence community also needs to streamline performance management and evaluation processes and improve automated tools to lessen the administrative burden on first-line supervisors and managers, the report said.
The report also said the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's own pay-for-performance system — which was one of the models for DCIPS — may be negatively impacting black and mixed-race employees and must be studied further. NAPA said a recent NGA study found that for several years, black and mixed race employees have received lower ratings than employees of other races. That may be due to the fact that black and mixed-race employees are more likely to be in support positions, NGA's study said, which usually receive lower ratings than employees in analysis and information production.