Federal Civil Service Performance Appraisal Rules


Working for the federal government involves a number of regimented and bureaucratic processes that must be followed by all employees, regardless of rank. This includes the process for performance appraisals or job reviews. For civil service employees in federal agencies, the review process happens regularly on an annual basis and must follow specific rules applied by management. Failure to follow these rules can give the employee the ability to then successfully challenge the appraisal results if disagreed with. It also forces management to review employees more objectively, removing risks of subjective biases.

Timing of Appraisal

  • The period of annual review to be covered for most federal agencies runs from October 1 to September 30 of the following calendar year. An appraisal must be completed within 30 days of the end of the review period. The minimum review period allowed totals 90 consecutive days, which is usually used on new, probationary employees.

    For annual review periods, progress reports are recommended to be performed at least halfway through the annual period, usually around March and April. An interim appraisal should ideally be performed every 90 days or at least within 120 days of an employee beginning a temporary assignment of a limited nature.

Goals of Applying the Rules

  • The appraisal should spell out the employee's position functions, tasks and performance expectations clearly. The supervisor is expected through verbal and written guidance to perform monitoring of the employee's performance throughout the review period.

    For functions that require training, the supervisor carries the burden to show he adequately provided the capacity for the employee to develop required skills during the probationary period. The supervisor should be performing reviews periodically to maintain formal appraisal communications with the employee. Where good performance occurs, the supervisor should be confirming such performance is rewarded.

Rating Criteria per Category

  • The quality of work performance is measured to evaluate how well an employee performs her task assigned. This rating scores not just that the task met deadlines and expectations, but how well the completion of the product was delivered.

    The quantity of work category provides the ability to include statistical performance measurements when possible. This category frequently documents completion of capacity tasks that may be unit or task-based, such as number of service calls made or number of cases closed.

    Timeliness evaluates the employee's ability to meet assigned deadlines. Those who adequately meet deadlines or produce successful work sooner score well. Those who regularly miss deadlines and provide late work score low.

    Cost-effectiveness measures the employee's performance in terms of whether it produces better efficiencies or dollar savings in a program's operations. While not applicable in all federal positions, some positions can be evaluated based on production output versus salary dollar to determine if a program is meeting fiscal goals.

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