Local Politics

Performance review system for state workers criticized

Posted August 19, 2010

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— Some state agencies have improperly managed employee reviews, leading to "inflated" ratings of their work and a disconnect between the quality of their work and any raises they receive, according to an audit released Thursday.

The audit of the Performance Management System in the Correction, Transportation and Health and Human Services departments showed that 81 percent of employees received ratings of outstanding or very good in their 2008 reviews, while less than 1 percent failed to meet expectations.

State Auditor Beth Wood said about 30 percent of state workers exceed expectations in other states.

Those employees would have received raises because of their high marks on reviews, if not for state budget cuts during the past two years.

"So the good news is we haven't given any money out to maybe anybody who shouldn't have received the raise, but at the same time, we don't have a system to provide incentive," Wood said.

Auditors said managers in the three state agencies often don't provide include tangible results by which to measure employee performance or establish plans for the workers to improve their skills and correct their deficiencies. Also, there isn't enough oversight of the system by the Office of State Personnel and lawmakers, according to auditors.

State Auditor Beth Wood Auditor: Agencies wasted money on worthless evaluations

"(Lawmakers) get a report that has been saying for a number of years now that the ratings are inflated, and they haven't been reading the report," Wood said.

Because the performance evaluations weren't useful to employee growth, the auditors said, the time spent on them could be deemed a waste of thousands of hours and millions of dollars in managerial salaries.

"We found that, over these three agencies, there is probably about $6 million worth of time and effort (spent on reviews)," Wood said.

DOT Chief of State Ellis Powell said the audit reflects its old system of employee evaluation, which he said has since changed significantly.

"We have worked on it really hard in the last two years, and it's not perfect, but it's a work in progress and it's a great improvement over the former system," Powell said.

DHHS and DOC officials responded to the audit by noting that managers spent so much time in 2008 on the transition to the new Beacon payroll system, which was plagued with problems, that they didn't have time to monitor employee reviews.

"We expect our managers to evaluate their employees fairly and accurately, not for financial reward but to ensure that they are providing the best service possible to the state," DOC spokesman Keith Acree said.

The auditors recommended that lawmakers re-examine whether the review system benefits the state and consider revising or eliminating it.


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  • North Carolina Home Aug 20, 2010

    Sheephead01...read before you speak! I specifically said that I did not want to paint ALL state employees with a wide brush but there ARE thousands that could not maintain private sector jobs.

    I appreciate the thankless job that you have. Just do not make the mistake of thinking that DOC (while surely not without it's problems) operates the same way as DOR, DOT, DMV and many other agencies that have multitudes of unnecessary, non-productive employees. I've seen it up close and personal and I know of what I speak.

  • sheephead01 Aug 20, 2010

    To "North Carolin Home" To say that all state employees are there forever, could not last in the private sector, or all have "D" behind their voter registration is ignorance.

    Don't get upset I am not calling you stupid. When I say ignorance I mean misinformed. Not all state employees are democrats. And if you look at the high turn over rates it is obvious that they may not be "There forever". And when their employment with the state is dissolved, they return to the private sector. When I say "job security" I mean that there is no shortage in the need for my service. I wish there would come a day when crime did not exist, and there was no need for my Department. However, the reality is crime will always be there. And there will always be a need for those of us that do this job, as long as we do it within proper policies and procedures we will be allowed to keep this job. Those that do not will not be there forever, they will not be there long.

  • North Carolina Home Aug 20, 2010

    One overriding theme throughout all of these comments by state employees is "job security". Once hired, they are there forever regardless of their job performance so long as they have a "D" after their voter registration and pay their dues come election time. Don't want to paint all state employees with the same wide brush but frankly there are thousands that could never stay in a private sector job for even six months.

  • sheephead01 Aug 20, 2010

    Also, we only get comp time when we work more then our alotted hours. In the private sector you get paid overtime. And you usually know before you have to do it. My shift is 12 hours long. And until someone comes in and tells me I can go home, I don't know that I am going. It is not uncommon for our shifts to be stretched out to 15,16, or even at times 20 hours. Who out there would be willing to do that. The fact of the matter is we do what we do for a majority who does not know what we do, or appreciate it either. And the media does not pick up on the everyday conditions that we face, they only want to report and inflate the couple of issues that may not have gone perfectly each year. And I will not lie job security is nice, especially in the times the country is in now. We have been cut to the bone and the community needs to start thinking about what could happen if the cuts get worse. Because we do stand between you and the ones that have been deemed unsafe for society.

  • sheephead01 Aug 20, 2010

    I work for the Department of Corrections and yes the appraisal process is outdated. However, at the current time it is mandated that it will be done. So we do it. As for the people that complain about our pay, we are one of the lowest paid Correctional Departments in the United States. I work in a 1,000 man Facility. 65% of which are serving life sentences. We go to work everyday knowing we are under staffed and outnumbered 30 to 1. Nobody is there because they are nice people. Someone posted "Make all state employees reapply for their jobs". Let us stay home while you decide whether or not we should keep it, what would you do. The fact of the matter is 90 to 95% of the general public wouldn't do my job. And I do my job well. There may be some people who do not belong there, but that's no reason to lump us all together. The DOC has approx. a 66% turn over rate. Those that should not be there are weeded out.

  • Garnerwolf1 Aug 20, 2010

    Since the state is looking at a 15% budget deficit, those of you bashing state employees are likely to get your wish. Of course, if and when you need a state service, don't complain when it's either not there or takes forever. And I'm sure the state, as in many private sector companies that do them, if there is no money tied to them, doing perf evals is a waste of time for everyone - so the supervisors give high ratings so the employee doesn't complain, and everybody goes on with their lives.

  • ratherbnnc Aug 20, 2010

    Those ratings are "inflated" because Supervisors think they are a waste of time anyway and they actually solve no purpose. Very very seldom are they used for pay increase purposes! Most would like to do away with them. Besides, this audit was done on the old system, not the new MPQ's.

  • Lickad Aug 20, 2010

    The first paragraph of this story describes all government employees perfectly.

  • johnadams1776 Aug 20, 2010


    First of all, I rarely reply to those who use the term 'BASHING', because it is usually followed by a completely unorganized train wreck of platitudes.

    But I would like to address:

    "No concessions by state employees?!!!!!! I have been underpaid for my entire career as a public servant." -That is a career choice, not a concession. So are non-profit organization employees, but they're not using taxpayer money.

    "My insurance rates for my family have gone up almost 10% each of the last two years" -That is not a concession, its an increase in the cost of a service that you choose to buy.

    "I was furloughed last year." -Was this the 10 days off? 80hrs/2080hrs = 3.8%. This was a concession, and I remember all of the tantrums being thrown about it for weeks.

    "There are MANY hardworking dedicated state employees who provide essential services" - I understand this, and I do appreciate the ones who work hard and take their responsibilities seriously.

  • sniperdiver Aug 20, 2010

    Who does the Governors apprasal? I know the voters. Its done every 4 years. If she is re-elected she did good. If not I guess she was unsatisfactory.