Conversations on Public Service Performance-Based Pay in the Federal Government: How Do We Get There?

January 2004 - Against a background of intensified interest in Federal adoption of performance-based pay systems, on October 21, 2003, the Academy partnered with the Brooking Institution's National Commission on the Public Service Implementation Initiative to sponsor a forum entitled Performance-Based Pay in the Federal Government: How Do We Get There?

The purpose of this forum was to develop and articulate a set of guidelines and options that would be useful to policymakers and their advisors as they considered the issue of performance-based pay. Participants in the forum included leading federal personnel policymakers and human resource management experts who provided insight from their experience with performance-based pay in the public and private sectors.  Forum participants recognized that missions, employee pay and skill levels differed widely within and among agencies. For this reason, they focused instead on general principles learned from past and current efforts to implement performance-based pay in the federal government.

Key Findings

Despite the recognition that implementing pay reform is difficult, forum panelists expressed optimism that extending performance-based pay across the federal government was possible and would add value. During the forum, panelsits discussed several different implementation approaches. By the end of the discussion, the Panel had come to consensus around a number of key points that the public sector should keep in mind as the implement performance-based pay in their agencies. A list of points of consensus and keys to success may be found in the conclusion of the forum's Summary Report.