Revamping the performance appraisal system for the Senior Executive Service (SES) last year was a huge leap toward bringing the program in line with its original mission: to serve as a corporate cadre of federal government leaders capable of moving across and within agencies to take on a variety of roles.

In July 2011, a diverse group representing more than 30 federal departments, agencies, and other organizations came together to make sure the new system would reflect each organization's needs, and ensure that it is capable of being implemented within each organization. The organizations and individuals invested in a process that often is stymied by fragmented and inconsistent approaches. Those involved in the effort, spearheaded by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and facilitated by Steve Shih, OPM's deputy associate director, called the process "amazing," and credited good leadership and collaboration for its success.

Steve Shih
Deputy Associate Director
Executive Resources and Employee Development, OPM

"We recognized that we had an exceptional opportunity to bring consistency and standardization in a single business line across the federal government. We wanted representation that was diverse and inclusive—from large departments to medium- and small-size agencies, and offices of inspectors general. We also benchmarked leading practices across the federal government as well as the private sector. This broad and collaborative effort ultimately enabled a consistent and sound approach, meeting the needs of all SES members and offering value to every single federal organization with regard to performance management."

Eduardo (Eddie) J. Ribas
Chief Human Capital Officer
Office of the Executive Director, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

"There was great leadership by Steve and OPM. Folks represented their agencies yet checked their agency name at the door. They understood this was an opportunity to develop a system that would benefit THE government. Everyone listened and discussed the best way forward.

"Irrespective of the size or name of your agency, we all had one vote. It is easy for me now to be an advocate of the appraisal system because I was part of the discussion. I can speak to it more clearly when I train my colleagues in other small agencies."

Sara Bonilla
Acting Chief Human Capital Officer
Department of Energy

"It was amazing to have 30–40 people sitting in a room each representing a different appraisal process. They were focused on developing a performance appraisal system for the entire government; everyone wanted to hear what everyone else said. Everyone had a chance to express their concerns or throw something on the table.

"We received clear guidance from the beginning from OPM that, outside of legal requirements, they were committed to transforming the current system. People saw that OPM was right there with us, willing to make changes and put this into practice. That helped everyone jump on board."