I’m still a newbie to civil service – coming up on my 1 yr mark soon. Given my Fortune 500 background, it’s been very interesting to witness the demise of PfP. I have heard far more bad than good experiences with NSPS from my peers about how it was a buddy-system, which would indicate that the top-performers are not being penalized – just the people who were “in” with upper management.
In >10 yrs of supervisory experience in the private sector, pay for performance is NOT a bad thing, however it is only as good as the training put into the managerial ranks. If you don’t train a person how to be a manager (e.g., give constructive feedback on a regular basis, perform frequent 1-on-1’s and/or staff meetings to set expectations and review performance in a real-time basis, and taking corrective action for under-performance), you will never be able to implement pay-for-performance in a manner that isn’t perceived as a buddy system.
Personally, I really liked the pay-for-performance world both as a manager and as an employee. I would like to see it implemented again, but only if there is a concerted effort at training the managerial staff and working with the rank & file individual contributors to address their concerns.