U.S. Geological Survey Manual
370.275.1 - Evaluation of Personnel Management
OPR: Admin/Office of Personnel
1. Purpose. This chapter sets forth the evaluation system for the USGS which conforms to the guidance prescribed by the Office of Personnel Management and the Department's Office of Personnel. By memorandum dated October 9, 1969, the President directed that each agency establish a system of personnel management evaluation. Subsequently, the Department implemented a personnel management evaluation system which was augmented in 1985 to serve as an alternative methodology to be used in carrying out internal control reviews required under OMB Circular A-123.
2. Objective. The objective of the personnel management evaluation program is to assure that human resources are being used efficiently and economically, and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and public policies. Personnel management evaluation is the mechanism by which managers, in close cooperation with the personnel office, can compare actual results against established objectives. The USGS personnel management evaluation system provides USGS managers with: (1) an indication of the organization's personnel management strengths and weaknesses; (2) clearly documented examples of regulatory noncompliance, with sufficiently detailed required actions to ensure conformance with law, regulation, and policy; and (3) realistic and results-oriented recommendations and action plans to eliminate deficiencies and overcome identified non-regulatory problems. Evaluations also focus on positive management practices which significantly contribute to mission accomplishment.
3. Types of Evaluations.
A. General personnel management evaluations cover all areas of a manager's personnel management responsibilities (i.e., position management, position description and classification accuracy, staffing practices, performance management, discipline, awards, delegations of authority, employee development, labor-management relations, etc.).
B. Special personnel management evaluations cover one or more personnel management topics indepth and/or may focus on organizational or systemic problems on a bureau, region or division wide basis.
C. Program reviews cover all areas of personnel management and administration which are the responsibility of a USGS servicing personnel office.
4. Scope of Evaluations.
A. Evaluations must include sufficient regulatory and procedural review to assess compliance with established personnel regulations and proper use of delegated personnel authorities. Accordingly, as a minimum, all general evaluations and program reviews will cover the following regulatory personnel management topical areas: classification and position management, staffing practices, performance management, discipline, awards, employee development, labor-management relations, delegations of authority, and maintenance of personnel records.
USGS personnel management evaluation guidelines will be used to evaluate each of the mandatory personnel management evaluation topics. The guidelines incorporate the Department of the Interior personnel management evaluation standards of adequacy, and OPM, DOI and USGS policies and procedures. Separate guidelines have been developed for general evaluations and for personnel office program reviews.
B. General evaluations will include coverage of nonregulatory personnel management areas such as communication, morale, organizational effectiveness, etc.
C. General evaluations and program reviews will address areas of emphasis as established by the OPM, the Department's Office of Personnel, the Bureau Personnel Officer, and/or Division Chiefs.
D. General evaluations and program reviews will include an assessment of internal controls related to personnel management. Assessment of these controls will be done in conformance with A-123 internal control review guidance issued annually by the Director of Personnel and the Bureau Personnel Officer.
5. Authority and Responsibility.
A. The authority to obtain, analyze and report information developed through the personnel management evaluation process and to require or recommend corrective action is delegated to the Headquarters and Central Region and Western Region Personnel Offices as follows:
(1) The Headquarters Personnel Office, through program reviews, evaluates the personnel management programs of servicing personnel offices. The Headquarters Personnel Office also conducts general and special personnel management evaluations of head quarters and field organizational components.
(2) The Central Region and Western Region Personnel Offices conduct general and special personnel management evaluations of field organizational components under their servicing jurisdictions.
B. Managers of organizations being evaluated (or servicing personnel officers in the case of program reviews) are responsible for addressing problems identified in evaluation reports and for verifying the completion of all required actions to the personnel office which conducted the evaluation.
6. Identifying and Scheduling Evaluations.
A. Personnel Offices must annually identify and document the evaluations to be conducted during each fiscal year. Regional management officials should be contacted by the personnel office for recommendations on which of their organizational elements and/or topics might be scheduled for an evaluation. The Central Region and Western Region Personnel Offices will forward their personnel management evaluation schedules to the Headquarters Personnel Office where the head quarters and regional schedules will be coordinated with the division representatives. A consolidated schedule of all USGS evaluations will be forwarded by the Headquarters Personnel Office to the Department.
The personnel management evaluation schedule for each personnel office should identify the nature of the evaluation (i.e., general versus special) and include any information concerning assistance needed in conducting regionally planned evaluations or assistance visits from the Headquarters or other servicing personnel offices. Also included in the annual evaluation schedule should be any follow-up reviews to previously conducted evaluations. Updates and changes to evaluation schedules must be provided to the Headquarters Personnel Office quarterly.
B. Considerations in selecting an organization for an evaluation may include such factors as the length of time since the last evaluation, known or suspected personnel management problems, significant organizational changes, key personnel changes in the management staff, etc. Considerations in selecting a topic for evaluation may include changes in delegations of authority, suspected problems of a systemic nature, departmental and USGS areas of emphasis, and designation for A-123 alter native internal control reviews.
C. Evaluations should be coordinated with other personnel management activities such as position classification cyclic reviews, position management studies, and training courses in order to reduce fragmentation of personnel office efforts and to minimize costs.
7. Evaluation Methods. One or more of the following methods may be used by personnel offices when conducting general personnel management evaluations, special personnel management evaluations, or program reviews.
A. Onsite Evaluation. An onsite evaluation may be a general evaluation of an organization's total personnel management activities. An onsite evaluation also may be a special evaluation to provide indepth coverage of one or more personnel management topics across organizational lines.
(1) An onsite evaluation generally will include the following activities:
(a) An opening conference with management officials to confirm the purpose and methodology of the evaluation.
(b) The review of any written material not available prior to the onsite visit such as organizationally maintained employee files.
(c) Interviews with managers, supervisors, employees, and officials of labor unions.
(d) Reviews of position descriptions and position audits.
(e) Team meetings to exchange information and assess progress of the evaluation, curtail further evaluation of areas that are not significant or for which insufficient data is available, assign new problem areas that have been identified, and develop findings and the recommended or required actions to solve identified problems.
(f) A closing conference with the appropriate management officials to present findings, recommendations, and required actions.
(2) An onsite evaluation results in a written report to the management officials of the organization evaluated. Guidance on the conduct of onsite evaluations is contained in USGS "Handbook for Conducting Onsite Personnel Management Evaluations" and is available in each personnel office. Specific items of coverage in each functional area for general personnel management evaluations are contained in the USGS personnel management evaluation guidelines.
B. Questionnaire Survey. This type of survey may be conducted independently or as part of an on site evaluation. The results of a questionnaire survey are not to be regarded as definitive conclusions but rather as indicators of areas needing further attention or more extensive evaluation. The Department of the Interior's personnel management evaluation questionnaire will be used for this purpose. The Bureau of Land Management will provide a computer statistical analysis of the questionnaires. The statistical analysis includes comparisons of the organization evaluated with other organizations evaluated in the USGS and throughout the Department.
C. Personnel Management Assistance Visits. This is an informal, brief visit typically not exceeding 1 week. General assistance visits are conducted for the purpose of discussing mutual personnel management goals and objectives or establishing closer working relationships. Special assistance visits are conducted to assist management in solving specific personnel management problems which may have been identified by the manager, the servicing personnel office, or as a result of a personnel management evaluation. While not resulting in a formal, published report, an informal report for the record is to be made and retained by the personnel office.
D. Records Reviews. While serving as an integral preparation phase for onsite evaluations, records reviews may also serve as an independent evaluation method when limited time and resources preclude sending an evaluation team onsite. The primary fact finding tools consist of the personnel records maintained in the servicing personnel office (e.g., official personnel folders, position descriptions, employee performance files, training records, automated data retrieved from the PAY/PERS system, grievance and appeals files, merit promotion records, etc.). Records reviews result in a written report to management, including required and recommended actions.
E. Follow-up Evaluations. These are brief return visits, usually 1 or 2 days in length, to an organization where an onsite personnel management evaluation has been conducted and a report issued. The major purpose of follow-up visits is to review management actions in implementing requirements and recommendations, and to assess the impact of the evaluation process on the organization. Often, follow-up visits will include interviews with selected employees, supervisors, and managers, and may also include a follow-up questionnaire survey. When used, follow-up evaluations are generally conducted within 1-2 years following the original evaluation and result in a brief letter report to management.
8. Planning and Preparation for Evaluations.
A. Before the evaluation begins, considerable planning and preparation must take place. Key aspects of a successful evaluation plan include clearly defined evaluation objectives, selection of an evaluation team with balanced skills and experience, sufficient analysis of organizational and/or topical information, and open and ongoing communication with management officials of the organization(s) to be evaluated.
Further detailed guidance on each of these planning and preparation activities may be found in the USGS "Handbook for Conducting Onsite Personnel Management Evaluations" and in the personnel management evaluation guidelines.
B. Selecting the Evaluation Team. The USGS "Handbook for Conducting Onsite Personnel Management Evaluations" provides the basic criteria for the selection of team members to conduct the evaluations. When an onsite evaluation is conducted, division and/or region management will be requested to nominate a management representative to participate on the evaluation team. Generally, the most effective management representatives are higher-level supervisors or managers with both organizational and technical knowledge, who can provide the personnel office team members with operational insight of the organization being evaluated. Headquarters Personnel Office participation on regional Personnel Office evaluations will be determined by the Headquarters Personnel Office. Participation by personnel from the Department, or by representatives from other servicing personnel offices or bureaus may be arranged as desired.
C. Obtaining and Analyzing Information. Information typically reviewed and analyzed during personnel management evaluations include previous evaluation reports, advance information from the organization to be evaluated, responses to the questionnaire survey, position descriptions, delegations of authority, statistical information from PAY/PERS or other data bases, official personnel folders, employee performance files, etc. Detailed lists of specific documents and information to be collected and analyzed are contained in the USGS personnel management evaluation guidelines.
D. Employees Represented by a Labor Union. In the evaluation of an organization where employees are represented by a labor union, the union does not have the right to have a representative participate when the following guidelines are observed:
(1) Title 5, Section 7114(a)(1) of the U.S. Code states that when a labor union has obtained exclusive recognition, it has the exclusive right to represent employees on personnel policies and working conditions. "Direct dealings" with employees in the course of an evaluation, by the use of questionnaires and personal interviews, may appear to be ignoring this provision. However, these evaluation techniques are in accord with the Act and existing "case law" when the fact finding is for the purpose of evaluating management and is not designed for solicitation of employee views, specifically on personnel policies, practices, and matters affecting working conditions.
(2) Surveys to obtain employee views on job or personnel management practices, as part of the normal evaluation process, are permissible provided there is no interference with the union's rights as the exclusive representative of employees in the bargaining unit.
(3) Questions should not inquire into the individual's union affiliation. Questions concerning employee views on the effectiveness of the labor organization should be avoided. Questions should not solicit employee views on matters pending in union-management deliberations.
(4) During an evaluation, employees may be interviewed without union representation when the following guidelines are followed:
(a) The interviewer does not seek commitments or counter-proposals regarding employee opinions or complaints solicited.
(b) The interviewer does not indicate that employees' comments on such matters might have an effect on the employees' status within the organization.
(c) The interview does not deal with a specific employee's grievance or other matters covered by an existing negotiated agreement.
(d) The interview does not gather information regarding employee sentiments for the purpose of using it subsequently to persuade the union to abandon a position taken during negotiations regarding the personnel policies or practices concerned.
(5) Employee interviews and questionnaires must not be used to bypass or diminish the rights of recognized labor organizations. The assessment of employee attitudes is not, in itself, a prohibited practice. However, the information obtained should not be used to unilaterally change personnel policies, practices, and working conditions without the appropriate involvement of the union. Such an approach would be an attempt to deal directly and individually with employees when they have chosen to deal collectively with management through a union.
9. Evaluation Reports.
A. A written report must be prepared documenting the findings and recommended and required actions. Written reports should be sent to the appropriate management official within 90 days after the conclusion of the onsite visit. The Central Region and Western Region Personnel Offices and the Headquarters Personnel Office are responsible for the distribution of their evaluation reports as follows:
(1) One copy to the chief management official of the activity evaluated.
(2) One copy to the Regional Office of the Office of Personnel Management.
(3) One copy to each servicing personnel office.
(4) Six copies to the Headquarters Personnel Office for distribution as follows:
(a) Two copies to the Division Chief, Office Chief, or Assistant Director, as appropriate.
(b) Two copies to the Department.
B. Management of the activity evaluated will provide a written response to the evaluation report within the timeframe established by the issuing personnel office. Servicing personnel offices will forward a copy of the management response to the Headquarters Personnel Office.
10. Follow-up Action. The effectiveness of personnel management evaluations depends on the degree to which they result in action being taken to generate personnel management improvements. Follow-up action will be taken according to the following procedures:
A. Managers of organizations reviewed are required to submit a written response to the evaluation report covering the following topics:
(1) Management action taken to comply with the required actions listed in the report.
(2) Management action taken or planned as a result of recommended actions listed in the report.
B. It is the responsibility of the program manager being evaluated and the personnel office conducting the evaluation to follow up on evaluation results to insure that the recommended and required actions in the evaluation report are carried out.
C. The management official receiving the evaluation report should be strongly encouraged to provide a summary of the report to the employees and supervisors of the organization. Employees should be advised of major findings that are pertinent to them as well as action which management will take in response to the findings. The information may be disseminated through meetings with employees or through written summaries.
D. Where exclusive recognition exists, group meetings with employees to discuss the results of surveys are permissible, provided the intent and format of the meetings are not designed to circumvent the union or to develop and establish new or changed personnel policies. Changes in personnel policies and practices as a result of findings should not be implemented without first meeting and conferring with the recognized labor organization. Failure to do so could result in the filing of an unfair labor practice charge.
E. When required actions have been completed and recommended actions have been satisfactorily addressed, the personnel office that conducted the evaluation should notify management in writing that the evaluation has been formally closed. A copy of the close-out notification letter should be forwarded to the Headquarters Personnel Office.
11. Annual Summary. Each year, the Central Region and Western Region Personnel Offices will provide to the Headquarters Personnel Office an annual summary of personnel management evaluation activities including: (1) significant findings from all evaluations; (2) status of actions taken or planned to overcome deficiencies; (3) areas requiring attention by Headquarters; and (4) budget information. Such summary information should be a source for the development of personnel management objectives for the upcoming fiscal year. The Headquarters Personnel Office will submit periodic reports which summarize significant evaluation findings to USGS division. The Headquarters Personnel Office will also submit an annual personnel management evaluation summary report to the Department.
12. Safeguarding Information. In accordance with the Office of Personnel Management's policy, evaluation reports are prepared primarily for the use of management and staff personnel. However, the reports or excerpts therefor may be released upon request to the public, employees, or employee unions. The Privacy Act requires that case listings, textual references, case histories, or any other information referring to individual employees be deleted from the reports or excerpts prior to release. The Privacy Act representative in the servicing personnel office must always be contacted prior to the release of all or portions of an evaluation report.