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GAO to examine OPM’s performance management experiment

Jan. 22, 2013 - 04:29PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., (pictured) and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, asked the GAO to report on the government's latest effort at performance management.
Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., (pictured) and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, asked the GAO to report on the government’s latest effort at performance management. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Congressional auditors will be inspecting how well the government’s latest effort at performance management is going.

The controversial program —called GEAR — is being tested at five agencies and, if successful, could be expanded to cover many federal employees. GEAR stands for Goals-Engagement-Accountability-Results.

The Office of Personnel Management is championing the program and has said improving performance management through GEAR is a necessary first step toward a longer-term goal of overhauling the GS system.

GEAR was launched in late 2011 and seeks to create a culture of ongoing, continuous feedback between managers and employees. Under the program, managers are supposed to hold quarterly performance reviews with their employees, and agencies are expected to improve how they select supervisors and require mandatory training for them on how to manage their employees’ performance. Some federal unions are skeptical about how effective GEAR will be.

Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, asked the Government Accountability Office on Jan. 4 to report on the program’s status and how well it is working so far. Specifically, the congressmen asked GAO to focus on what actions the agencies testing GEAR have so far taken; how well those agencies’ implementation plans, goals and timelines line up with best practices for effective performance management systems; and what benefits GEAR will yield.

Issa is House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman. Farenthold is chairman of the committee’s federal workforce subcommittee.

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