HR Order DOJ1200.1: Chapter 8-1, Performance Management for Senior Executive Service Employees (December 10, 2003)

Human Resources Order DOJ 1200.1

A. References.


5 U.S.C. chapter 43, subchapter II

5 U.S.C. chapter 45

5 U.S.C. 3151(a)(4)

5 U.S.C. 5384

Code of Federal Regulations

5 CFR Part 430, subpart C

5 CFR Part 451, subpart A

5 CFR Part 293, subpart D

5 CFR Part 534, subpart D


DOJ Order 1451.1A, Incentive Awards Program

Key terms

Key Career Executives

Performance Review Board

Senior Executive Resources Board

B. Policy.

  1. Employees Covered. All career, noncareer, limited term, and limited emergency SES employees will be evaluated under the Department's model performance management plan for SES employees or an approved plan developed by a Department component head.
  2. Authorized Officials.
    1. Component heads are responsible for establishing career SES performance programs and approving all career SES performance appraisals within their respective component. This authority may only be redelegated to key employees as defined in Appendix I. Component heads are also responsible for appointing Performance Review Boards and for taking performance based actions involving career SES within their respective component.
    2. The Inspector General, for purposes of this order, has the responsibilities of a component head with regard to his staff.
    3. The Deputy Attorney General (DAG) has retained responsibility for approving performance appraisals and actions involving key executives. In addition, the DAG retains authority to approve Superior Accomplishment Awards (Special Act or Service), SES performance bonuses, and to recommend Presidential Rank Awards.
  3. Performance Appraisal Timetable.  The annual performance appraisal or "summary period" for SES members begins on July 1 of each calendar year and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year. However, in the case of a career appointee, a performance appraisal may not be made within 120 days after the beginning of a new Presidential administration. Employees must also have served in a position under written performance elements and requirements for 90 days before being rated. All performance bonus payments resulting from a performance appraisal are issued at the beginning of the fiscal year cycle in October.
  4. Criteria for Performance Appraisals.  Individual and organizational performance shall be evaluated under the Department's Model Performance Management Plan for Senior Executive Service Employees or an approved component plan.

    The performance appraisal requirements for positions in the SES include the identification of critical and other performance elements, and the specification in writing of performance requirements appropriate to the SES position. Critical elements must be discussed with the employee and linked to the strategic planning initiative. The performance appraisal is then based on these critical elements and performance requirements, as previously identified by the SES member and his/her supervisor.
    1. Mandatory Elements. The Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General may issue mandatory elements which components must include in employees' performance plans.
    2. Appraisals of senior executive performance must be based on both individual and organizational performance taking into account such factors as:
      1. Results achieved in accordance with the goals of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993;
      2. The Department's Strategic Plan;
      3. Customer satisfaction;
      4. Employee perspectives;
      5. The effectiveness, productivity, and performance quality of the employees for whom the senior executive is responsible;
      6. Meeting affirmative action, equal employment opportunity, and diversity goals and complying with the merit system principles set forth under section 2301 of title 5, United States Code; and
      7. Other indications of effectiveness including improvements in efficiency, productivity, and quality of work or service; any significant reduction in paperwork; cost efficiency; and timeliness of performance.
    3. Rating Levels. The rating system for summarizing levels of performance on at least an annual basis will consist of the following five rating categories:
      1. Outstanding,
      2. Excellent,
      3. Fully Successful,
      4. Minimally Satisfactory, and
      5. Unsatisfactory.
  5. Appraisal Process. The SES performance appraisal process includes:
    1. An initial written appraisal by the senior executive's supervisor;
    2. An opportunity for the senior executive to respond in writing;
    3. An opportunity to request a review by a higher-level official;
    4. A review of both the supervisor's appraisal and the incumbent's response, if any, by the appropriate Performance Review Board;
    5. A recommendation from the Performance Review Board to the appropriate appointing authority of performance ratings and related matters such as reassignments, removals, pay adjustments, and awards; and
    6. The assignment by the appointing authority of an annual summary rating after considering the PRB recommendation.
  6. Performance Review Boards. The Performance Review Boards (PRBs), established for the duration of the appraisal period, are responsible for the following functions:
    1. Each PRB reviews and evaluates the initial appraisal and rating by the senior executive's supervisor, the senior executive's written response, if any, and the written review of the initial appraisal by a higher-level official, if requested;
    2. Each PRB may obtain additional records, and statements, and may call witnesses in its consideration of a case;
    3. Each PRB can review any aspect of the appraisal process, including the critical elements and performance requirements set for a senior executive, prior to the performance review period;
    4. Each PRB must make a written recommendation concerning an executive's appraisal and rating and must submit these recommendations to the appropriate appointing authority. Where the PRB does not concur with the initial appraisal or rating, or the record shows employee or reviewing official disagreement with the rating official's actions, the PRB's recommendations must be supported by a written justification. No appraisal or rating is final until the appropriate appointing authority takes final action;
    5. Each PRB is responsible for making recommendations to the appropriate appointing authority concerning performance pay awards, meritorious or distinguished ranks, or other forms of recognition to be granted to fully successful or better career appointees.
  7. Membership of the PRBs. The members of all component PRBs are appointed for the duration of the appraisal period by the respective component head or his designee. PRB members will ordinarily be Department SES employees. In unusual circumstances, members of a PRB can be selected from Federal executive positions at a level equivalent to or above the SES level and may be selected from within or outside the Department. Notice of an individual's eligibility to serve on a PRB must be published in the Federal Register.

    In addition:

    1. The supervisory official who made the initial appraisal of an executive should not be a member of the Performance Review Board considering the appraisal of that executive, nor should a subordinate of an executive whose performance is under review be a member of the PRB.
    2. When a career appointee is being appraised, a majority of the Performance Review Board must be career SES appointees unless the Office of Personnel Management determines that there is an insufficient number of career appointees available in a particular organization.
    3. Members of each component PRB should:
      1. Have current, fully successful or better performance ratings, or the equivalent of this rating in other rating systems;
      2. Have applied the Department's appraisal systems effectively in their own organizations; and
      3. Possess a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Department's appraisal system gained through experience and/or training.
    4. Consequences of Performance Appraisal.
      1. A performance appraisal for an SES career appointee may result in the following actions:
        1. A nomination for a Meritorious or Distinguished Executive Rank Award (no more than once each in a five year period and based on more than one appraisal during the five year period),
        2. Performance award,
        3. Superior Accomplishment Award (Special Act or Service),
        4. Change of basic pay,
        5. Reassignment,
        6. Removal from SES with guaranteed placement (fallback),
        7. Higher retention status in RIF.
      2. A performance appraisal for SES noncareer appointees and SES limited term or emergency appointees may result in the following actions:
        1. Superior Accomplishment Award (Special Act or Service),
        2. Change of basic pay,
        3. Reassignment or removal.
      3. Any senior executive receiving an unsatisfactory performance rating will be reassigned within the SES, or removed from the SES.
      4. Any senior executive who receives two unsatisfactory ratings in a period of five consecutive years shall be removed from the SES.
      5. Any senior executive who twice in any period of three consecutive years receives less than fully successful ratings shall be removed from the SES.
    5. Awards for Superior Executive Performance.
      1. The SES performance appraisal system will be used for evaluating and awarding superior performance in the Department.
      2. The component head may recommend candidates for Superior Accomplishment Awards (Special Act or Service) to the Senior Executive Resources Board (SERB).
      3. The PRBs in the components will recommend candidates for performance awards/"bonuses" through the appropriate component head to the SERB.
      4. The Attorney General has final approval authority for nominations for Meritorious and Distinguished Rank Awards for senior executives in recognition of their superior performance.

    C. Documentation and Reporting.

    1. Control dates established by Departmental guidance must be adhered to in order to ensure the proper review of ratings by PRBs.
    2. All performance related records must be maintained in either the Official Personnel Folder (OPF) or Employee Performance Folder (EPF). Consistent with 5 CFR 293.404, the record retention period for performance related SES records is normally 5 years.
    3. The performance appraisals for the most recent 5 years and the most recent Performance Work Plan and interim rating will be forwarded as part of the OPF to a gaining agency upon an employee's transfer.


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Updated August 29, 2014

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