Ames Federal Employees Union Memo: EPCS awards

Status Report From: Ames Federal Employees Union, IFPTE Local #30
Posted: Monday, June 2, 2008

Subject: EPCS awards
From: "Paul K Davis, President, AFEU"
Date: Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dear Ames Federal Employees,

The Ames Federal Employees Union is pleased to inform you of the agreement we have entered into with Ames Research Center concerning awards based on EPCS ratings (but please note the concern stated below).

For your reference, our Record of Negotiation, and the NASA wide rule under which they were negotiated, are provided below (see attached signed copy).

In brief, our agreement makes awards mandatory for the three higher summary ratings, namely "Fully Successfull", "Accomplished", and "Distinguished", and it specifies clearly what percentage of your annual salary these awards must be, namely 0.5%, 0.85%, and 1.5%, respectively.

Note that, under the NASA wide rule, there are two ways you can receive this award, and two exceptional circumstances that provide alternatives to all or part of the award. The two ways of receiving the award are a simple payout or the corresponding amount of time off. An equivalent combination of these is also allowed. The first exceptional circumstance is that, if you receive a "Distinguished" rating, then a quality step increase can replace the entire award. The other exceptional circumstance is that if you have been promoted during the past year, your increased pay as a result of the promotion can partially or completely replace the award.

Note also that quotas for the rating categories are prohibited under government wide rules. The numbers of awards in each category used in the appendix to the agreement were purely estimates to assess whether there was a likely problem fitting within the total awards budget. Problems with awards budget limits can also be alleviated, of course, by substituting time off for the payout.

This agreement was reached, in principle, on April 10th. Due to travel of negotiators, it was signed on May 1st. Having discussed it at our monthly membership meeting, we are now providing the result to all members of our collective bargaining unit.

We were definitely pleased that we were able to obtain this agreement, which brings important benefits to employees, and preserves, within the context of changing NASA wide rules, the spirit of our previous union grievance settlement on the EPCS.

Unfortunately, this morning, management officially relayed to us its intention to unilaterally abrogate this agreement, in violation of our collective bargaining rights under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. We have not yet received written notification, but we will certainly take every necessary step to protect your rights under the Statute. We are particularly disturbed that some in Center management appear to feel free to renege on a written promise made to Ames employees. At the core of collective bargaining legal rights is the simple moral imperative to keep one's word.

David Schwenke, Vice President for Negotiations
Paul K Davis, President
Ames Federal Employees Union (IFPTE local 30)

RECORD OF NEGOTIATION RE: EPCS PERFORMANCE AWARDS FOR PY 2008 May 1, 2008 This Record of Negotiation captures the agreement between the Parties following negotiations Thursday 4/10/08 and Thursday 5/1/08 regarding the EPCS performance awards formula for the current performance cycle ending April 30, 2008:

1. The Parties to this agreement are the NASA Ames Research Center (the Center) and the Ames Federal Employees Union (the Union).

2. This agreement records the agreement between the Parties regarding the EPCS performance awards payout formula for the current EPCS performance cycle ending April 30, 2008 (Performance Year or PY '08).

3. After full discussion of various alternatives, the Parties have agreed to adopt the payout formula outlined in the attached document entitled "Scenario #14."

4. The Parties understand that this formula reflects the Center's awards budget for this performance year; and the agreed-upon percentages of salary for each rating level i.e. 0.5 % for Fully Successful, 0.85 % for Accomplished, and 1.5 % for Distinguished. The attachment also reflects our "best estimate" based on prior experience as to the likely ratings spread and financial outcomes for individuals and the Center. However, the Parties realize that the estimated ratings distribution and payout allocations are only estimates; they are not intended to be, nor may they be used as, "quotas" in the rating of employees.

5. The Parties understand that our prior agreement setting one fixed amount for Distinguished awards, regardless of the employee's grade or step, is not compatible with the current NASA EPCS regulations requiring performance awards to be calculated as percentages of base salary. However, the Parties have determined that the attached payout formula will result in a payout for a Distinguished rating for the current Center-wide average salary which is slightly higher than the prior fixed amount.

6. The Parties understand that the "Under Budget" estimate is intended to allow for other awards (Spotlight awards, special act awards, etc.) which are also part of the Center's awards budget.

7. The Parties understand that the actual performance award an employee receives may be offset in whole or in part by other performance-related awards as provided by the NASA EPCS regulations and prior agreement between the Parties. For example, an employee who has been promoted during the current performance year, or who receives a Quality Step Increase (QSI) based on the current performance year, will be deemed to have already received the highest available performance award; and the cash value of a performance award may be met in whole or in part by other cash or cash-equivalent awards described in our prior agreements.

8. The Parties also understand that the value of any employee's performance award, based on the attached formula, may be met by a cash award, an equivalent time-off award, or a combination of the two. Time-off awards are not paid from the Center awards budget, but are considered by NASA regulations to be cash-equivalent for performance award purposes. Therefore, if calculated payouts exceed the awards budget, or if the Center and its managers determine cash performance awards will not allow sufficient reserve for other awards (spotlight, special act, etc.) the Center and its managers may use time-off awards to meet part or all of individual performance awards.

9. The Parties agree that individual employee preferences will likely vary. Employees will be allowed and encouraged to inform their rating supervisor of their individual preferences as to receiving cash, time off, or some combination of the two. Rating officials will give employee requests good faith consideration, in conjuction with other legitimate considerations such as the need to stay within their awards budget.

10. This agreement may be reopened by mutual agreement; or by either Party to address any needed modifications if circumstances materially change (e.g. a material change in the NASA EPCS regulations or the Center's awards budget).

David Schwenke, VP-Negotiations, AFEU
Michael F. McCartney, LR Advisor, ARC
Paul K. Davis, President, AFEU
Kristie Dunbar, LR Officer, ARC


Scenario #14

% Range #13 Distinguished = 1.50%
Accomplished = 0.85%
Fully Successful = 0.50%

Ratings C Distinguished = 289
Accomplished = 700
Fully Successful = 251

PY07 Distinguished Rating Distribution = 289
FY08 Total on board count = 1240
1240 - 289 = 951 (PY07 Estimated Meets/Exceeds)
700 = PY08 Projected Accomplished
251 = PY08 Projected Fully Successful

Total Projected PY08 Ratings (based on above)
289 23% Distinguished
700 57% Accomplished
251 20% Fully Successful

FY08 Average Salary (as of 3/1/08) = $120,156

Performance Award Calculation
(Rating %) x (Average Salary) = (Award Amount Per Employee)
(Award Amount Per Employee) x (# of Perf. Ratings Distributed) = (Total Perf. Rating Allocation)

Distinguished = 1.50%
1.50% x 120,156 = $1,802
$1,802 x 289 = $520,778
Total Distinguished Allocation = $520,778

Accomplished = 0.85%
0.85% x $120,156 = $1,021
$1,021 x 700 = $714,700
Total Accomplished Allocation = $714,700

Fully Successful = 0.50%
0.5% x $120,156 = $601
$601 x 252 = $151,452
Total Fully Successful Allocation = $151,452

Total FY08 Directorate Allocation for Perf., Spotlight and SAA Awards = $1,532,000
Total Estimated PY08 Performance Award Budget = $1,386,930
Under Budget by $145,070


5.8 Awards Eligibility

5.8.1 An employee who receives a performance summary rating of Distinguished, Accomplished, or Fully Successful is eligible for an annual monetary performance award and nonmonetary recognition, based on the rating.

5.8.2 An employee who receives a Needs Improvement or Unacceptable performance summary rating is not eligible for a monetary award or nonmonetary recognition, based on performance.

5.8.3 An award and award amount determination must be linked to an employee's performance.

5.8.4 A Quality Step Increase shall be considered the highest monetary performance award an employee can receive (see paragraph 5.9).

5.8.5 An employee with a higher performance summary rating level (e.g., Distinguished) must receive a greater monetary performance award, based on a percentage of salary, than an employee with a lower performance summary rating level (e.g., Accomplished). To achieve fairness and consistency in the differentiation of award determinations, based on performance ratings, the Center Director and Assistant Administrator for Infrastructure and Administration (or designee) shall annually establish, based on the awards budget, guidelines (e.g., percentage/range of percentage of salary) for monetary performance awards applicable to Distinguished, Accomplished, and Fully Successful performance summary ratings. These guidelines must be consistently applied to all performance awards, based on ratings of record for the appraisal period, for all employees covered by this NPR. As an exception to paragraph above, if an employee is promoted during the appraisal period and the promotion resulted in an increase in pay, the employee may receive a lesser award than that assigned for the employee's performance summary rating level. The promotion and increase in pay may be considered, in part, as resulting from the employee's performance and, therefore, as an award based on the employee's performance summary rating. When a Time-Off Award is granted in recognition of an employee's performance summary rating, the monetary value of a Time-Off Award shall be calculated and included in the percentage of salary designated for the respective performance summary rating level.

5.8.6 All performance awards must be processed in accordance with Appendix C of NPR 3451.1, NASA Awards and Recognition Program.

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