As the Deputy is aware, my Department is engaged in the ongoing review and reform of the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) in the Civil Service with enhancements to be introduced on a phased basis in the context of the broader objective to develop and strengthen the management culture across the Civil Service. In light of these objectives my Department's strategy is to:
- improve the design of PMDS and streamline the PMDS process; and
- work with management across the Civil Service to strengthen the operation of PMDS.
The PMDS process will be significantly streamlined by the introduction of an electronic PMDS system – ePMDS - to make the completion of PMDS forms possible online. My Department is working to develop this system at present so that, in January 2014, it will "go live" for those Departments that have moved to PeoplePoint - the new HR Shared Service Centre for the Civil Service.
The Phase 2 changes, agreed in July 2012 by my Department, together with management of the Civil Service and the unions, are being introduced for the current 2013 cycle. These changes seek to address issues concerning the perceived lack of fairness and consistency in the application of PMDS. The most important of the changes in Phase 2 is the introduction of a formal system of calibration for the review of performance. The process involves managers at the same grade-level meeting to discuss the performance of their jobholders with the aim of making sure that they apply similar standards for all jobholders and it should help to ensure greater balance and consistency in the award of ratings.
My Department has also implemented other changes to the system aimed at improving fairness and consistency, including:
- A new grade-based Competency Framework has been introduced, together with a revised rating scale with improved descriptions of performance levels.
- A more comprehensive process of internal review of ratings, and access to external review, are under way. The revised review procedures are being actively advanced with a view to early discussions with management and unions in the Civil Service so that these too will be in place for the final stages of the 2013 cycle.
- Finally, a rating of "Fully Achieved Expectations" is required for the award of an increment.
Turning to the take-up of additional training courses across Departments as a result of PMDS reviews, this is a matter for each individual Department and Office on the basis of its own assessment of training and development needs. My Department expects to have more detailed and comprehensive information available on take-up of training and development opportunities in the context of Learning and Development Shared Services Project which is currently under way.
Progress is being made in renewing PMDS. In 2012, compliance with PMDS rose to 85% - the highest level to date - up from 77% in 2011. My Department will continue to work with all managers across the system to continue to ensure full compliance with PMDS as part of an overall focus on strengthening managerial performance. A particular focus of attention for 2013 is the distribution of ratings with the aim of achieving a distribution of ratings that more accurately reflects performance across the system. Although there has been some movement towards greater alignment with the expected statistical distribution, there remains relatively high levels of awards of the higher categories of ratings overall and very low levels of ratings in respect of underperformance.
A key challenge for senior leadership across the Civil Service is to demonstrate their own commitment to delivering a high performance culture and to fully engage line managers in the management and improvement of performance. My Department will continue to review how we manage performance in the Civil Service and on the basis of this we will continue to make changes aimed at improving PMDS as it is the primary tool for managing performance in the Civil Service. My Department is committed to the ongoing strengthening of performance management to enable people to achieve their potential.