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This note is in response to Making Pay Decisions Transparent.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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Thank you for your article on reconciling seemingly conflicting ratings by Federal employees regarding satisfaction with various aspects of their work and their agency versus displeasure over promotion and raises. 

Yours and all other articles I've read that address this weak spot in the EVS invariably attribute the negative findings to the fact that employees want a better or different system that allows their leaders the flexibility to give them merit-based promotions and raises. 

What reporters fail to see, however, is that in many cases the pay system is not the problem.  The problem for many employees is the tendency on the part of (some? many?) leaders to give promotions and within-grade-increases based on how much they like or admire an underling. 

I'm talking about favoritism, not an inadequate pay system. 

The current systems and our existing merit promotion rules, if followed correctly, hold within them all the tools needed for managers to base promotions and raises on merit.  Unfortunately, though, falling prey to favoritism is far too compelling for some in leadership positions and the result is that those not within a set of "favored" staff feel they are not properly considered for promotions.  Hence the reason for at least some of the low EVS numbers on these questions.

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It would be very refreshing to have the press and leaders of government address favoritism in a meaningful way before focusing limited resources on changing the Federal pay systems.  The tendency for leaders to indulge in favoritism will follow any new system we put in place.


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