Department of State is Redesigning the Civil Service Appraisal System

Last year, Headquarters facilitated working groups to get feedback on the proposed changes to performances evaluations and the civil service appraisal system. If you participated in one of these working groups, please email your Union officers at NFFE1998-NationalOfficers@state.gov.

The Union is very concerned that upcoming proposed changes in performance appraisal processes will make it even more difficult for specialists to achieve overall ratings of exceeds expectations and outstanding. The Union has shown Headquarters the concerning data and trends that shows that passport specialists are routinely rated lower at certain agencies, and across the board when compared with passport management and other employees Department wide.

For example, this graph shows outstanding ratings at our passport centers. In 2019 40% of the National Passport Center (NPC) specialists received outstanding compared to just 4% at the New Orleans Passport Center (NOPC).

Disclaimer: The data relied upon was provided to the Union from the Labor Relations Office on an “as is” basis and is subject to change.

Additionally, this 2018 ratings graph shows that about 70% of passport managers and department wide employees receive Outstanding ratings. This contrasts sharply with passport specialists 25% outstanding ratings.

Disclaimer: The data relied upon was provided to the Union from the Labor Relations Office on an “as is” basis and is subject to change.

The Department of State is changing to a 4-point system, that is being implemented Department-wide in management positions, in American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) positions and in American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) positions. This change is being referred to as Civil Service Reform. The Department is proposing a similar change in the performance evaluation of all positions under NFFE1998, as their goal is to have the same process, terminology, and forms for foreign and civil service employees.

A 4-point system means that the outstanding rating option has been added in each individual category.  If adjudicators already struggle to show exceeds expectation in individual categories with the current rating system, we expect it will be even more difficult for adjudicators to show outstanding in individual categories in the new system.

 

New Appraisal System Proposed by Passport Management

Pros:

  • It is possible to get an overall outstanding without getting the highest rating in each category
  • Toolkits to assist supervisors
  • More accountability and consequences for low performing supervisors
  • More frequent feedback
  • Updated list of Inadmissible comments (list of things that cannot be written into the performance evaluation narrative)
  • The addition of a DEIA – diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility into a competency

 

Cons:

  • May be more difficult for specialists to show exceeds expectations and outstanding performance
  • Mathematical weighted averages formula used that could be complicated and not easily understood

 

Finally, Headquarters will decide by the end of August 2022 if the new system will be used in 2023; and the new system will likely be used for more than a decade by the Department.  According to our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) Article 12.8, “Subjects appropriate for negotiations are personnel policies and practices and other matters relating to or affecting working conditions of bargaining unit employees.”

 

The Union is committed to working towards creating a more equitable and fair evaluation process. We are actively engaged in this proposed changed to our working conditions because of its great impact on all of us.  We will continue to present the data showing the disparities to HQ so that our ratings improve with the new performance evaluation system.

 

Updated: May 18, 2022 — 11:29 am