FSIS To Implement Results-Based, Pay-For-Performance System

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) today announced final approval of a project to test a results and competency-linked pay-for-performance system that will change the way employees are compensated, rewarded, and recognized.

FSIS is a public health regulatory agency that continually invests in human capital. In order to continue agency success in performing a range of food safety, food defense, and public health regulatory missions over the next decade, FSIS requires an innovative human resources system.

The demonstration project will enable FSIS to take a proactive role in finding solutions to all of these challenges in order to attract a diverse and well-qualified applicant pool, and to retain and motivate its current workforce.


The Public Health Human Resources System (PHHRS) is a pay-for-performance project that will include approximately 2,800 FSIS employees; jobs will be placed in broad career paths utilizing flexible pay settings based on qualifications, local labor market factors and performance ratings. This demonstration project will involve all General Schedule (GS), non-bargaining unit employees within FSIS, including public health veterinarians.

In May 2008, the FSIS Demonstration Project proposal was approved by OPM and in June 2008, a public meeting was held to discuss the proposal. FSIS received approximately 150 comments which covered a number of different management and human resources topics. This public feedback played a vital role in the evaluation process, leading to further examination and a better understanding of the long-term management and employee implications of the project plan.

One key change, indicative of the feedback received from employees through the public process, was the addition of a "grandfather clause," for developmental employees in career ladder positions (i.e. positions with promotion potential to a higher pay band). This provision allows developmental employees to receive special in-band pay increases sufficient to ensure employee's base rate under PHHRS is equal to base rate under GS. This will honor our commitments to current FSIS employees who were hired in developmental positions and are performing well.

According to FSIS Administrator Al Almanza, "This is an important initiative for FSIS as it will offer a number of flexibilities that will greatly enhance the Agency's ability to recruit and retain its most valued resource — our employees. In addition the new flexibilities will allow FSIS to further support our workforce with a more modern human resources management system that enhances and protects our critical role in public health, food safety, and food security."

The PHHRS project will be implemented on July 19, and will feature a simplified pay-banding classification and compensation system. The demonstration project will be conducted over a five year period under the supervision of OPM to determine if the pay-for-performance system is successful in improving the agency's personnel management.


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