ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Department of Defense employees are gearing up for a new change with the introduction and phasing in of a new personnel appraisal system. Debuting in April 2017, the DOD Performance Management and Appraisal Program, known as DPMAP, is an element of the New Beginnings initiative which has been underway over the past few years.
A three-tiered performance management program, DOD officials say the New Beginnings concept is a linkage between performance and rewards such as bonuses and promotions. They say that all employees covered by the program will be on a single appraisal cycle that runs April 1 through March 31, with an appraisal effective date of June 1. The minimum period of performance for an employee to be eligible to receive an appraisal, is 90 days.
Spurred on by the requirements in the 2010 and 2012 Defense Authorization Acts that pointed to a need for a system that reshapes methods for use within DOD to make appointments to positions within the competitive service, New Beginnings is viewed as a viable way to better support the organization and its mission, its employees, supervisors and potential hires.
Actively engaged in the DPMAP training required for supervisors, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Human Resources, G-1 leadership iseeks to inform and educate military and civilian workforce leaders about their role in helping employees better understand how the new initiative functions, and the impact it will have on their work environment.
According to Pamela Delaine, acting CECOM G-1 director, effective communication and proactive participation on the part of the employee and the supervisor will be important to the success of the DPMAP process.
“As we begin our transition to the New Beginnings concept, it is extremely important that supervisors and employees are proactive in the appraisal process, and understand that frequent communication will be vital to the success of that effort,” she said.
Aberdeen Proving Ground employees in grades GS-13 through GS-15 will enter the system July 2017. GS-12 and below, Federal Wage System Supervisors/Leaders will join in Nov 2017. Non-supervisor FWS employees will join by July 2018.
New Beginnings requirements, expectations
Under the New Beginnings initiative, officials say three formal documented face-to-face discussions are required. They are; an initial performance plan meeting, one progress review and a final performance appraisal discussion.
Referring to DOD guidelines, Delaine said DPMAP points to focus on: performance planning; work assignments and accountability; organizational goals, skill development and learning opportunities; time, resources, and changing mission requirements; and DOD core values, as pertinent to supervisor and employee discussions.
Currently, DPMAP rating levels are outlined as ‘Level 5- Outstanding,’ Level 3- Fully Successful,’ and ‘Level 1- Unacceptable.’ Under outstanding, the average score of all performance element ratings is 4.3 or greater—with no element being rated 1. Fully successful, the average score of all performance rating elements is less than 4.3 – with no element being rated 1. A rating of 1 represents any unacceptable performance element.
DOD officials say that all elements are critical and will not be weighted. The overall rating will be calculated by adding together the individual ratings for each element and that sum will be divided by the total number of elements. That calculation, they say, will be used to determine the final overall rating as either outstanding, fully successful or unacceptable.
“Something that we want to promote throughout the CECOM and C4ISR community – really across the spectrum— is the importance of performance discussions throughout the appraisal cycle,” Delaine said. “Understandably, the requirements for superb performance are going to require exceptional results. To be able to substantiate those results, is going to require frequent, enhanced supervisor-employee engagement.”
Such engagement, according to DPMAP officials, not only establishes a bridge of awareness between supervisors and employees, but includes their work, their organizations, and the colleagues with whom they work.
An undertaking of no small measure, New Beginnings speaks to the important role a collaborative effort plays in the execution of a successful performance management strategy between employees and supervisors.
“As we begin making the transition to this new performance rating system, there is no doubt that a lot of questions will arise,” Delaine said. “I encourage employees and supervisors to be committed to having ongoing dialogue.
This type of engagement is extremely important to being able to provide feedback that supports the individual’s accomplishments, to those mission requirement goals and objectives during the appraisal cycle.”