Federal Eye: OPM Keeps Time-in-Grade, at Least for Now

The Obama administration has decided to keep the “time-in-grade rule,” meaning ambitious federal employees will have to slow their plans to climb the career ladder. The policy requires federal employees in General Schedule grades 5 and above to work 52 weeks in their current grade before consideration for promotion.

In Tuesday’s editions of the Federal Register, the Office of Personnel Management said it will keep the rule in place and reconsider it later this year as part of a broader review of several personnel issues, including compensation, performance reviews and staffing.

The decision means the revocation of yet another Bush-era policy, which was enacted in November. Officials argued then that the rule was no longer necessary because government hiring standards account for experience and education necessary for promotion.

The decision is a big victory for federal employees unions, which worry that a rule change could give managers too much influence over the hiring and promotion process.

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Henry Brown

Same subject DIFFERENT Source

From Govexec.com

OPM withdraws rule that would have allowed faster promotions
By Alyssa Rosenberg [email protected] August 11, 2009

The Office of Personnel Management on Tuesday axed a proposal to drop requirements that federal employees must serve in certain pay grades for one year before becoming eligible for promotion. But the agency did not rule out canceling time-in-grade requirements in the future.

“After carefully considering all of the comments, OPM has determined that it would be more productive to consider the merits of the time-in-grade issue as part of a more comprehensive review of pay, performance and staffing issues than to regulate this particular issue in piecemeal fashion,” the agency wrote in a notice published in the Federal Register on Tuesday.

Currently, federal employees who are in positions that are General Schedule 5 or higher must serve 52 weeks in that job before they are eligible for promotion to a higher grade, no matter their qualifications or performance. They also must demonstrate that they meet the requirements for the new position.
The Bush administration proposed lifting the time-in-grade requirement, and a rule doing so was scheduled to take effect on March 9. But the Obama administration asked agencies to spend an additional 60 days considering regulations the Bush administration had initiated but not yet implemented, delaying the rule’s effective date. In May, OPM extended the comment period on the time-in-grade regulation to allow additional time for consideration.

The National Treasury Employees Union objected strongly to the proposed change, arguing the Bush administration moved forward without consulting employee groups, and that eliminating waiting times for promotions would give managers too much discretion in the promotion process.

“Many managers are not well-trained, and pay or promotion schemes instituted without training, objective criteria and adequate oversight can lead — and have led — to favoritism, nepotism and actual illegal discrimination, as well as the widespread perception of discriminatory implementation,” NTEU President Colleen Kelley wrote to OPM.

Kelley praised the agency on Tuesday for reconsidering the change, and for favoring a comprehensive approach to personnel reform. Max Stier, president of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, said it is important for OPM to hold wide-ranging conversations about civil service reform before deciding on specific changes.

“There’s no doubt that a broader reform is necessary, and [eliminating time-in-grade requirements] may or may not be the right component, depending on what else is done with the entire system,” Stier said. “I think it makes sense to hold off.”

Henry Brown

Again Same Subject DIFFERENT Source

This is source is Federal Times:

OPM retains time-in-grade rule for promotions
August 11, 2009
The Office of Personnel Management said it has cancelled a Bush administration personnel rule that would allow some high-performing General Schedule employees to be promoted faster.
In November, OPM announced it would remove a decades-old requirement that employees serve 52 weeks in a grade before being considered for promotion to the next higher grade. But the Obama administration delayed that rule change in the spring, and on Tuesday OPM announced in the Federal Register it would not repeal the so-called time-in-grade rule.
OPM said it will consider repealing the time-in-grade rule as part of a broader review and overhaul of personnel policies planned for this fall, according to the Federal Register notice.
“It would be more productive to consider the merits of the time-in-grade issue as part of a more comprehensive review of pay, performance and staffing issues than to regulate this particular issue in piecemeal fashion,” OPM said in the notice.

The 57-year-old time-in-grade rule was established during the Korean War to prevent a buildup of civilian employees with elevated grade levels, as happened during World War II.
The Bush administration decided in November to repeal the rule, effective in March, on grounds that modern qualification standards for promotion make excessive promotions unlikely. OPM officials at the time said that highly qualified, newly hired employees sometimes have been shut out of job opportunities because they didn’t have enough time in their current grades.
But unions strongly urged the incoming Obama administration to reverse that decision. The National Treasury Employees Union supports retention of the time-in-grade rule, saying its repeal could allow managers to promote their favorites and ignore objective criteria for promotions. NTEU in February asked the Obama administration to review the regulation and keep the rule.