WASHINGTON (May 25, 2016) -- The Army has begun implementing the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program, a Department of Defense enterprise-wide program that links individual performance to DOD values and organizational mission.

The new appraisal program is designed to better foster and sustain a higher performance culture than the current system, according to Army officials. Key features of the new program includes greater employee and supervisor communication and accountability, increased employee engagement, more transparent processes and improved capabilities in recruiting, developing, and rewarding the workforce.

The Army began transitioning more than 200,000 civilians under the new appraisal program last month and will continue to do so through June 2018. Since implementation began in April, about 3,100 civilian employees within the Civilian Human Resources Agency, U.S. Army G-1, received training and transitioned into the new program.

Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Debra S. Wada said the Army demands a high-performing civilian workforce to support the department's more than 2.5 million Soldiers and their families.

"Department of the Army civilians provide invaluable support to our service members and their families, which enables the force to successfully operate in various places around the world," she said.

"The Army will implement the new appraisal program, a component of DoD's New Beginnings initiative, in a transparent manner while working closely with labor unions," Wada explained.

The appraisal cycle starts April 1 and ends March 31 of the following year. Employees who have performed under an approved performance plan for a minimum of 90 calendar days during the rating period will receive a performance rating according to a three-level rating pattern --
Level 5-Outstanding, Level 3-Fully Successful, and Level 1-Unaccepable.

At the end of each rating period, military and civilian supervisors are required to have completed a minimum of three formal, documented performance discussions.

The discussions include planning employee performance and development, monitoring performance with frequent feedback to employees and evaluating their performance.

Additionally, supervisors will administer and document performance management activities using an automated appraisal tool. A hard copy prescribed form will be used for supervisors or employees who do not have computer access. All Army civilian employees and their supervisors will receive training to ensure they understand the new performance management expectations and how to use the system.

DOD and Army officials both agree that people are their most important asset and critical to accomplishing the department's mission. Recruiting and retaining the best talent in the civilian workforce are key elements in the American military's ability to continue building upon the strengths of the civilian workforce, according to Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, Army G-1.

"Our people are our most important asset," McConville said. "The U.S. Army values the service of our more than 230,000 Department of the Army civilian employees, and will continue to refine, shape and enforce policies that aid us in better managing this talent pool, which is critical to current and future success."

Since 2010, collaborative labor-management teams have worked on initiatives to revamp several human resource programs across DOD with the focus of enhancing support to civilian personnel and their supervisors. Formal and informal feedback from DOD employees, such as requesting more engagement with supervisors about their performance, had major implications in shaping this policy and future practices associated with the new personnel authorities.

"America's Army remains highly capable and worldwide mission ready in part by leveraging the talent and skills of its civilian work force," McConville noted. "Furthermore, implementation of the appraisal system will enhance our ability to appropriately manage and develop our talented civilian workforce."

Civilian employees are encouraged to visit Civilian Personnel On-Line for more information regarding DOD's "New Beginnings" initiative.