Federal HR Directors Told to Scrutinize Bonuses

John Berry, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, sent a memo May 27 telling agency HR leaders to review their recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives and use them "only when necessary to support your mission and program needs."

Giving President Obama's push for efficiency in the government as the reason, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry has sent a memo telling HR chiefs at federal agencies to review their recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives. Retention incentives were "the clear majority of 3Rs costs in 2007 at $127 million," he noted, and spending on discretionary pay "should be closely monitored."

There are about 1.9 million federal employees. Berry's memo, issued under the heading of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, says OPM is reviewing current 3Rs policies and may consider taking actions to strengthen and improve the program. OPM regulations (5 CFR 575.311) "make clear that each agency is responsible for terminating retention incentives when conditions change such that the original determination to pay the incentive no longer applies or when payment is no longer warranted," his memo states. "While agencies are required to review each retention incentive paid without a service agreement at least annually to determine whether the payment is still warranted, I strongly recommend you review all retention incentives at least annually, whether associated with a service agreement or not."

"I request that you review your 3Rs programs to ensure that ongoing and new authorizations for payments to employees are used only when necessary to support your mission and program needs, and are consistent with the criteria in law and U.S. Office of Personnel Management's (OPM's) regulations," it says. "The cost of using any of these pay flexibilities should be weighed against the benefits to be gained."

The 25 members of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council are Berry, its chairman; the OMB deputy director for management; the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) of the 15 executive departments; and the CHCOs of eight additional agencies designated by Berry.

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