REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Starting this month, General Schedule employees across the Department of Defense will begin to transition to an all-inclusive evaluation system that brings the workforce closer toward a new culture of performance.

New Beginnings is a collaborative labor-management effort that is expected to improve human resources practices across the workforce and strengthen communications between the employee and supervisor, said Lisha Adams, Army Materiel Command executive deputy to the commanding general. It encompasses reforms impacting performance management, hiring flexibilities, training and development, and workforce initiatives.

One major initiative from New Beginnings is the DOD Performance Management and Appraisal Program, or DPMAP, which will replace the Total Army Performance Evaluation System, known as TAPES, by the end of 2018. AMC, the Army's largest command will have more than 47,000 GS civilians transition to the new performance system by June 2018, said Sarita Garrison, AMC DPMAP program manager.

TAPES was an overall rating of the employee's performance of his or her assigned performance objectives and responsibilities, typically over the course of 12 months. Whereas TAPES assigned objective ratings of "Excellence," "Success," "Needs Improvement," "Fails" and "Not Rated," DPMAP scores each employee's objective with a one, three or five, and computes the average to give him or her an overall numerical rating of level 5 "Outstanding," Level 3 "Fully Successful" and Level 1 "Unacceptable."

DPMAP focuses on open communication between the supervisor and employee, with continuous feedback and discussion on expectations, accomplishments, impediments and training needs.

"With DPMAP, supervisors can identify the training courses employees need to take, and understand the barriers that need to be removed to enable the employee to be successful," Adams said.

Formally checking in with employees throughout the year helps ensure not only set goals are achieved, but that employees stay on track of the elements and standards or determine if they should be adjusted, said Adams.

"Too often, ratings have been based upon effort, not upon accomplishments, and when we can link the objectives to the command's mission, the supervisor can engage with the employee to make sure they understand the expectations of their job," Adams said. "That gives the employee an opportunity to ask questions or provide concerns of where they don't feel they're properly trained or have the resources they need."

To ease the transition and enhance overall knowledge of the new initiatives, AMC began DPMAP training earlier this year, starting with its more than 9,000 GS-13 to GS-15 civilians. On July 1, those eligible employees were brought into the new system. GS-12 and below, as well as Federal Wage System supervisors and leaders, will switch over Nov. 1. The last transition date for AMC is with the FWS employees, who will move June 1, 2018. At this point of time, all AMC DPMAP employees will be on one single appraisal cycle of April 1-March 31.

While DPMAP is expected to be a better fit for employees and supervisors in the long run, like all new systems, it has to be learned. To help facilitate the switch, AMC GS-12 and below, as well as federal wage system supervisors or leaders, are required to attend DPMAP familiarization training through the Nov. 1, 2017, transition date. Commands will notify employees of the training dates and time for future classes to attend. GS-13 and above completed DPMAP training earlier this year, said Garrison.

AMC G-1's Human Resources Operation Division also conducted a Leadership Professional Development July 7 on effective performance communication for supervisors and employees. Employees from seven Major Support Commands, as well as 45 Headquarters AMC personnel, were in attendance. Joe Coutcher, HR action branch supervisor, presented an overview of performance management as a system that recognizes and rewards employee performance and contributions, as well as how it aligns with AMC and DOD's overall goals and mission and more.

The key takeaway from the LPD was to empower supervisors and employees to remain engaged with open communication through the rating cycle, which will enable effective performance discussions under any performance management system, Garrison said.

While the majority of AMC employees will move to DPMAP, there are exemptions, Adams said. Exemptions include those who work in laboratories under the Army Research Laboratory Personnel Management Demonstration Project (Demo), Senior Executive Service employees, those under the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System, and the workforce at Life Cycle Management Commands and contracting centers who are under the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act, Acquisition Demo.

Garrison said these workers, and possibly others, will not be covered by the new program because their performance programs are developed under separate legal authorities.

AMC relies on its 64,000 employees worldwide to ensure the Army remains the best-equipped fighting force in the world, said Adams. In turn, it is AMC's supervisor responsibility to guide employees in both performance and career management that benefit both the employee and the Army.

For more information about DPMAP or New Beginnings as a whole, including course dates, tutorials and frequently-asked questions, visit the AMC portal page at Users must use a Common-Access card to view the page.