Magazine article Insight on the News

Performance Ratings Are a Failure

Magazine article Insight on the News

Performance Ratings Are a Failure

Article excerpt

It was a mantra of former vice president Al Gore's reinventing-government effort that the problem with the federal government wasn't its workers. They were good people trapped in bad jobs, so the Gore line went, snared by red tape and sapped of motivation and initiative by bureaucratic lethargy and malaise.

There is some truth to that statement, but sorting the motivated and competent senior government manager from the average moribund bureaucrat is made impossible by an internal performance-rating system that isn't taken seriously and doesn't reward success. So said Mitch Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to guests at a recent Excellence in Government conference in Washington.

As Daniels pointed out, only two of 4,617 senior federal government executives received "unsatisfactory" ratings last year, while more than one-half were rated as "outstanding" performers. At his own agency, Daniels reported that 83 percent of senior managers last year were rated as "outstanding" performers -- suggesting to him that someone must be grading on a curve. …

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