If you are a member of the Senior Executive Service, an unsatisfactory performance appraisal could have a severe impact on your career. It is important to know what your rights are and the consequences of a negative rating, as they differ from those of other federal employees.
What is the performance appraisal process for an SES?
Before the agency can issue any performance rating, it is required to take certain steps including:
- Issuing you a performance plan at the beginning of the rating period that outlines your objectives and what you need to do to be successful;
- Providing you with at least one progress review during the rating period to give feedback on your performance and areas that you need to improve; and
- Allowing you to serve in the position under the performance plan for at least 90 days and providing you with an initial rating based upon your performance against that plan.
If you disagree with an initial rating issued by a supervisor, you can request a higher-level review. You can further appeal that decision to a Performance Review Board (PRB) to make a recommendation to the agency for your final rating. The agency’s final decision cannot be reviewed or appealed further.
What happens if you get an unsatisfactory rating?
If your final rating is unsatisfactory, the agency may reassign you to another SES position or remove you from the SES altogether. However, removal is mandatory if you receive two unsatisfactory ratings within 5 years or if you receive one unsatisfactory rating and one minimally successful rating within 3 years. In that case, unlike other federal employees, you do not have the right to a performance improvement plan.
If you are removed from the SES, you will be placed into a GS-15 position with the right to maintain your higher SES pay. Before removing you, the agency must give you 30 days’ notice and you may be eligible for discounted service retirement. You also have the right to an informal hearing before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, but because the MSPB has no authority to overturn the action, this is of little to no value to you.
Because you do not have the right to appeal a negative performance rating after it is formally issued, it is essential that you make a strong case for a fully successful rating before that time. If you believe your rating is lowered because of discrimination or retaliation, you have the right to challenge the rating and any subsequent action through the EEO process.
The lawyers of Alan Lescht & Associates have successfully represented members of the SES in resolving performance issues with their agencies before action is taken, and in challenging discriminatory actions through the EEO process. If you are facing a negative action or believe your rights have been violated, please call 202-463-6036 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.