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Intel-wide pay for performance is dead, DNI says

Apr. 9, 2013 - 03:05PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies March 12 before a Senate committee in Washington, D.C.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies March 12 before a Senate committee in Washington, D.C. (Jewel Samad / AFP via Getty Images)

Dismantling the intelligence community’s first large-scale experiment with pay-for-performance cost the government $60 million, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, and he has no interest in giving it another shot.

“The next DNI can try it,” Clapper told reporters April 5. “I don’t want to waste $60 million again on doing a program [that could be shut down]. Not in this day and age of sequestration.”

Defense intelligence agencies in 2008 began moving employees to a new personnel system, called the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System, which based pay raises on how well employees do their jobs. DCIPS was based in part on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s 14-year-old pay-for-performance system. Clapper headed NGA for five years, shortly after it adopted its new personnel system.

But Congress in 2009 temporarily suspended DCIPS for all intelligence employees except those at NGA. A 2010 report by the National Academy of Public Administration concluded that while DCIPS’ design was sound, its implementation was rushed and flawed, and said it gave better ratings and raises to higher-ranking employees. After that report was published, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates decided to shut DCIPS down for almost 50,000 non-NGA intelligence employees.

Clapper, who was one of the officials behind DCIPS when he was undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, is still a strong believer in pay-for-performance. But setting up DCIPS entailed a great deal of cost and effort. Intelligence agencies had to design and set up an elaborate evaluation system, extensively train managers on how to measure and judge employees’ performance, and design and print training materials and other forms necessary to make DCIPS a reality.

That effort cost $60 million, Clapper said, and was all for naught when DCIPS was killed. Shutting it down was very disruptive to the intelligence workforce, Clapper said.

“We had to go back and undo everything,” Clapper said. “I’m not going to do it again.”

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