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GOVEXEC.com
Posted: January 15, 2010

Survey explores what federally employed women want

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com
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Women in the federal government are unhappy with current pay-for-performance systems, according to the results of a survey by Federally Employed Women

Janet Kopenhaver, the Washington representative for FEW, told Federal News Radio, overwhelmingly, when it comes to pay for performance, women want training. "Training for the managers to understand the whole system, understand their responsibilities," said Kopenhaver, "and then training for the employees - how to actually help develop their performance plans, how to write up their evaluations at the end of the year. And that came back over and over again with the training aspect of it."

The bottom line, said Kopenhaver, is that women are not keeping pace with men in moving up the ranks in the civil service.

If you look at the statistics for, for instance, the members of the Senior Executive Service or those in the GS 13 through 15, females are not moving as fast up the career ladder as their male counterparts. And that wasn't covered under this survey, but that is another issue that we've been working on for many years. And that's to try and get more training for women, more mentoring opportunities, so that they can move into these GS 13s and 15 levels which allow them to move into the... SES ranks. We have seen the statistics just are not matching the overall statistics of females in the federal workforce.

One reason for difference could be the level of subjectivity in performance rating, but Kopenhaver pointed out there's no way to know. "A lot of our members came up with the suggestion that there needs to be some kind of oversight," she said, "whether it's data collection or some kind of reporting that shows who is actually getting the raises and the bonuses."

The organization says that a pay for performance system "does work if it's totally subjective and everyone gets training and everything's written down and standardized." While some agencies are thought of as being very good in how they structure their performance systems and performance plans, "others are woefully inadequate," said Kopenhaver.

Concerns about pay for performance systems, and suggestion for how to correct for their failings, need to be expressed now, said Kopenhaver.

We know that something's coming down the pike. A lot of people have said "why are you doing this now? NSPS is dead." Yes, NSPS is dead and we thought "what a great opportunity" because one of the biggest criticisms about NSPS is they got no input from federal workers. So we decided "well let's do the survey now" because we're pretty sure OPM Director John Berry is still going to want to do something. He says the GS system is not working, so let's get our suggested solutions in now, before a new plan is introduced and implemented.

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