By William Wiley

Here we go again, acting all uppity by advising the new administration without being asked. Well, somebody’s got to do it, and if not FELTG, who else would dare?

Dear President-Elect Trump:

What took you so long?

While you’ve spent the past few years putting your name on all sorts of things, gallivanting around the country with your BFF Hillary Clinton, bragging about grabbing various body parts, we’ve been busy along with our readers trying to run the darned government. Now that your little holiday is over, welcome to the fight. So let’s get you busy.

You may have heard that a lot of people (e.g., Congress, the media, the public at large) believe that a lot of federal employees (e.g. 7% of 2.1 million civil servants) are poor performers. Although we’ve had a system in place for nearly 40 years to fire non-performers, it doesn’t seem to be working. I bet you’d like to know what’s wrong with it, wouldn’t you?

Well, you’re in luck. Here at FELTG, we know everything civil service. And there’s at least one thing wrong with the unacceptable performance system that you can fix by yourself on Day One without any help from that nasty old Congress.

Length of the PIP:  As just about everybody in the world knows, if a federal civil servant is performing badly, regulations require that the immediate supervisor initiate a Performance Improvement Plan to allow the employee to demonstrate whether he indeed can perform acceptably. Neither the law nor the CFR sets a specific minimum length for a PIP, thereby leaving it up to the discretion of the agency to decide what is reasonable.

And therein lies your first opportunity. Some of your agency managers have set foolishly long PIP periods. Think of it this way. In one of the companies you own, if you hired someone to work for you who was supposedly qualified to do the work, and you gave him a couple of months to get used to the job, if he couldn’t do it, how much longer would you give him to get better? Keep in mind, his salary is coming out of your pocket. You didn’t hire a trainee, someone you have an obligation to train. You’re not a charity. Seriously, how long would you keep him around?

Well, what if I told you that some of your managers have agreed to 90 days AS A MINIMUM?! That’s right; there are perfectly valid union contracts around government, agreed to by agency leadership, that guarantee employees who have already been identified as failing, another 90-day minimum period of time to get up to speed. Those managers are spending YOUR MONEY (actually, taxpayer money that you have been allocated by Congress) in ways they don’t legally have to, for reasons that make no sense. You should not allow that to happen.

Here’s how to fix it. On Day One, send a little memo to your OPM Director that says the following:

Dear OPM:  As soon as possible, if not sooner, amend 5 CFR Part 432 to state that agencies may establish PIPs for periods up to 30 days, and that exceptions must be pre-approved by OPM. Your Friend and New Supreme Commander (aka “The Performance President”), Donald J. Trump

Yes, some of our friends on the union side of the business will take offense at this mandate. By making this change to a government-wide regulation, you are taking the matter off of the bargaining table and preventing your unwise management negotiators from giving this away through negotiation. But with all due respect, and I certainly respect the role of the unions in the federal workplace, it is not their job to run the government. It is yours. And you can’t run an efficient, effective government if you can’t quickly deal with poor performers. So cowboy-up and on Day One send a message to all of us that you plan for your managers to hold their employees accountable.

Because if you don’t, some folks might start thinking that they should not have voted for the “You’re fired!” guy. Wiley@FELTG.com

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