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Chapter 7 - Performance Management Appraisal Program to be Rescinded in Full February 16, 2023, See Circular 22-18

Part 7 - Human Resources Administration And Management

Title Section
Introduction 7-7.1
    Purpose 7-7.1A
    Background 7-7.1B
    Authorities 7-7.1C
    Goal 7-7.1D
    Scope 7-7.1E
    Excluded Individuals 7-7.1F
    Definitions 7-7.1G
Performance Levels 7-7.2
    Level 5 - Achieved Outstanding Results (AO) 7-7.2A
    Level 4 - Achieved More Than Expected Results (AM) 7-7.2B
    Level 3 - Achieved Expected Results (AE) 7-7.2C
    Level 2 - Partially Achieved Expected Results (PA) 7-7.2D
    Level 1 - Achieved Unsatisfactory Results (UR) 7-7.2E
Planning and Communicating Performance 7-7.3
    Performance Plan Development 7-7.3A
    Discussion 7-7.3B
    Employee Participation 7-7.3C
    Responsibility for the Performance Plan 7-7.3D
    Employee's Performance Plan 7-7.3E
Critical Element Categories 7-7.4
    Administrative Requirements 7-7.4A
    Individual Performance Outcomes 7-7.4B
Monitoring Performance 7-7.5
    Progress Reviews 7-7.5A
    Employee Assistance for Less than Achieved Expected Results Performance 7-7.5B
Rating Performance at the End of the Appraisal Period 7-7.6
    Appraisal Process Guidance 7-7.6A
    Performance Meeting 7-7.6B
    Immediate Supervisor's Assessment 7-7.6C
    Ratings below Achieved Expected Results 7-7.6D
    Method for Deriving Summary Rating 7-7.6E
    Second Level Review of Rating 7-7.6F
    Performance Discussion 7-7.6G
    Rating of Record 7-7.6H
    Extending the Appraisal Period 7-7.6I
    Disagreement with the Rating 7-7.6J
Using Performance Results 7-7.7
    Impact of Performance Outcomes and Results 7-7.7A
    Actions Based on Achieved Outstanding Results Performance 7-7.7B
    Actions Based on Achieved More Than Expected Results Performance 7-7.7C
    Actions Based on Achieved Expected Results Performance 7-7.7D
    Actions Based on Partially Achieved Expected Results Performance 7-7.7E
    Actions Based on Unsatisfactory Results Performance 7-7.7F
    Human Resources Office Assistance 7-7.7G
Individual Development Plans 7-7.8
Performance Awards Budget 7-7.9
Training 7-7.10
Recordkeeping and Record Uses 7-7.11
Monitoring and Evaluating the Program 7-7.12
Reduction-in-Force and the PMAP 7-7.13
    Reduction-in-Force and the PMAP 7-7.13A
    Performance Credit 7-7.13B
    Cut-off Date for Receipt of New Ratings 7-7.13C
    Guide for Crediting Performance 7-7.13D

Exhibit Description
Manual Exhibit 7-7-A HHS-704B - HHS Employee Performance Plan
Manual Exhibit 7-7-B Guide for Non-Standard Situations
Manual Exhibit 7-7-C Performance Plan Reference Guide
Manual Exhibit 7-7-D [PDF - 12KB] Sample Individual Development Plan


  1. Purpose.  The purpose of this chapter is to establish the Indian Health Service (IHS) policies and procedures for planning, monitoring, developing, appraising, and recognizing the performance of all non-Senior Executive Service (SES) managers, supervisors, and employees of the IHS.  The policies and procedures contained in this chapter will provide a mechanism for clarifying and communicating organizational goals and expected outcomes; identifying individual and/or team accountability; providing formal feedback; and documenting individual and team performance.  It is one component of the on-going process of performance management, which also includes frequent informal feedback, recognition and awards, coaching, skills development, and appropriate corrective action.
  2. Background.  Performance management is the systematic process by which management involves its employees, as individuals and as team members, to improve organizational effectiveness in the accomplishment of the IHS mission and goals.  As an overarching policy, the IHS Performance Management Appraisal Program (PMAP) is designed to facilitate the execution of basic management and supervisory responsibilities and to communicate or clarify organizational goals and objectives.  In January 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) instituted a new 5 tiered PMAP.  The new PMAP has the same rating levels as the existing Department's Senior Executive Service (SES) performance management rating system. By aligning the SES and non-SES performance systems, the IHS can clearly cascade performance goals and standards across the organization. This 5 tier PMAP establishes an effective and more efficient performance appraisal process that enables managers and supervisors to:
    1. communicate and clarify organizational goals and objectives to employees;
    2. link performance requirements to HHS and operating division strategic planning initiatives;
    3. promote individual and/or team accountability for accomplishing organizational goals;
    4. effectively address the training and developmental needs for employees;
    5. monitor progress and provide formal feedback to employees;
    6. use appropriate measures of performance as the basis for recognizing and rewarding individual accomplishments;
    7. performance use the results of performance appraisal as a basis for appropriate personnel actions; and
    8. assess and improve individual and organizational performance.
  3. Authorities.
    1. Appraisal.  5 United States Code (U.S.C.) §§ 4301 - 4305, 5 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 430
    2. Unacceptable Performance.  5 U.S.C. §§ 4303 and 4305, 5 CFR Part 432
    3. Awards.  5 U.S.C. §§ 4501 - 4512, 5 CFR Part 451
    4. Within-Grade Increases.  5 U.S.C. §§ 5304 and 5335, 5 CFR, Part 531, Subpart D
    5. Quality Step Increase.  5 U.S.C. § 5336, 5 CFR Part 531, Subpart E
    6. Reduction-in-Force.  5 U.S.C. § 3502, 5 CFR § 351.504
    7. Records of Employees Performance.  5 U.S.C. § 552a, 5 CFR Part 293, Subpart D
  4. Goal.  To design and implement a performance management system aimed at improving individual, team, and organizational effectiveness.
  5. Scope.  This performance appraisal system covers all IHS Civil Service employees, non-SES managers, supervisors, and team leaders, except as identified in Section F, "Excluded Individuals."
  6. Excluded Individuals.  The following individuals are not covered under the IHS PMAP:
    1. a member of the SES;
    2. an employee appointed to the excepted service under Schedule A 213.3102(o) whose appointment is limited to 1 year or less;
    3. a fellow appointed under Section 207(g) of the Public Health Service Act, as amended;
    4. an expert or consultant;
    5. a member of an advisory committee;
    6. a person serving under an appointment in the excepted service having a time limit of less than 90 calendar days;
    7. a resident, intern, or other student employee who receives a stipend under Section 5352 of 5 U.S.C.;
    8. an employee on detail to a public international organization;
    9. Commissioned Corps Personnel;
    10. an employee in a position for which employment is not reasonably expected to exceed 90 calendar days in a consecutive 12-month period;
    11. an employee outside the United States who is paid in accordance with local native prevailing wage rates for the area in which employed;
    12. an Administrative Law Judge appointed under Section 3105 of Title 5, U.S.C.;
    13. an individual appointed by the President; and
    14. an individual who:
      1. is serving in a position under a temporary appointment for less than one year,
      2. agrees to serve without a performance evaluation, and
      3. will not be considered for a reappointment or for an increase in pay based in whole or in part on performance.
  7. Definitions.
    1. Appraisal.  The process under which performance is reviewed and evaluated.
    2. Appraisal Period.  The established period of time for which an employee's performance will be reviewed and a rating of record prepared.
      1. The appraisal period is the calendar year (January 1 through December 31).  The minimum appraisal period is 90 calendar days.
      2. Employees must perform work under a performance plan that is in place for a minimum of 90 calendar days to receive a rating.
      3. Section 7-7.6I covers guidance related to extending the rating period and Manual Exhibit 7-7-B provides guidance for other non-standard situations.
    3. Critical Element - Critical element means work assignments or responsibilities of such importance that unacceptable performance on the element would result in a determination that an employee's overall performance is unacceptable.  All elements in the PMAP are critical.
    4. HHS-704B - The standard performance plan used to document all of the written performance elements that an employee is expected to accomplish during the appraisal period.  See performance plan definition below.  A sample plan can be found at Manual Exhibit 7-7-A, "HHS-704B, HHS Employee Performance Plan."
    5. Individual Development Plans - An Individual Development Plan (IDP) generally focuses on an individual's training and developmental needs in two areas:  Providing new skills and knowledge to help the employee better perform the job, and enhancing an employee's strengths and talents.
    6. Performance - An employee's accomplishment of assigned work as specified in the critical elements of the employee's position.
    7. Performance Management Appraisal System - The framework of Department-wide policies and parameters established for planning, monitoring, developing, evaluating, and rewarding individual performance; and for using the resulting performance information in making personnel decisions.
    8. Performance Award - A performance-based, lump sum cash payment to an individual employee based on the employee's rating of record.  A performance award does not increase base pay.
    9. Performance Awards Budget - The funding allocated by the IHS for distribution as performance awards to employees covered by the performance appraisal system.
    10. Performance Plan - All of the written performance elements that an employee is expected to accomplish during the appraisal period.  These elements are linked to specific program and management outcomes and to the Department's and the IHS' strategic plans.  These elements are derived from the IHS Director's performance plan and are cascaded, as appropriate, to all employees.  A performance plan must include all critical elements and their performance standards.  See Manual Exhibit 7-7-C.
    11. Performance Rating - The written appraisal of employee performance compared to the performance standard(s) for each critical element, on which there has been an opportunity to perform for the minimum period of 90 calendar days.  A performance rating includes the assignment of a summary rating level.
    12. Performance Standard - A statement of the performance threshold, requirement, or expectation for an element that must be met to be appraised at a particular level of performance.  A performance standard may focus on, for example, factors such as quality, quantity, timeliness, and manner of performance.
    13. Progress Review - Communicating with the employee about his or her performance to date as compared to the performance standards for each element.  Progress reviews are important for providing consistent performance feedback to employees and can be conducted at any time during the appraisal period. One formal progress review is required and is generally conducted midway through the appraisal period.  Ratings are not assigned for progress reviews.
    14. Quality Step Increase - A permanent increase in basic pay equivalent to one step within the grade.
    15. Rating Official - The official who is responsible for informing the employee of the critical elements of his or her position, establishing performance requirements, providing feedback, appraising performance, and assigning the summary rating.  The immediate supervisor is the employee's rating official.
    16. Rating of Record - The performance rating prepared at the end of an appraisal period for performance over the entire appraisal period.  In most cases, a summary rating (see definition below) will become the rating of record.
    17. Reviewing Official - An official with review and approval authority at a level higher than the rating official.  Reviewing officials are two supervisory levels above the employee.
    18. Strategic Planning Initiatives - The Department and Agency goals, Agency strategic plans, annual performance plans, organizational work plans, Presidential initiatives, and other future-focused related initiatives.
    19. Summary Rating - Combining the written appraisal of each critical element on which there has been an opportunity to perform for the minimum period of 90 calendar days to assign a summary rating level.  The rating official derives the summary rating by appraising the employee's performance during the appraisal period for each element.
    20. Time-off Award - An award granted to an employee which allows the employee to take time off from work with pay and without charge to annual leave.


  1. Level 5 - Achieved Outstanding Results (AO).  Consistently superior; significantly exceeds Level 4 - Achieved More than Expected Results (AM) performance requirements.  Despite major challenges such as changing priorities, insufficient resources, unanticipated resource shortages, or externally driven parameters, employee leadership is a model of excellence.  Contributions demonstrate exceptional initiative in achieving results critical to Agency success and strategic goals.  Products and skills create significant changes in their area of responsibility and authority.  Indicators of performance at this level include outcomes that consistently exceed the AM level standards for critical elements described in the annual performance plan.  Examples include:
    1. innovations, improvements, and contributions to management, administrative, technical, or other functional areas that have influence outside the work unit;
    2. increases in office and/or individual productivity;
    3. improved customer, stakeholder, and/or employee satisfaction that results in positive evaluations, accolades, and recognition; methodology is modeled outside the organization;
    4. flexibility and adaptability in responding to changing priorities, unanticipated resource shortages, or other obstacles;
    5. initiation of significant collaborations, alliances, and coalitions;
    6. leadership on workgroups or teams, such as those that design or influence improvements in program policies, processes, or other key activities;
    7. anticipates the need for, and identifies, professional developmental activities that prepare staff and/or oneself to meet future workforce challenges; and/or
    8. consistent demonstration of the highest level of ethics, integrity, and accountability in achieving specific HHS, IHS, and/or program goals; making recommendations that foster clarification, and/or influence, improvements in ethics activities.
  2. Level 4 - Achieved More than Expected Results (AM).  Consistently exceeds expectations of Level 3 - Achieved Expected Results (AE) performance requirements.  The employee continually demonstrates successful collaborations within the work environment, overcoming significant organizational challenges such as coordination with external stakeholders or resources shortfalls.  Employee works productively and strategically with others in non-routine matters, some of which may be complex and sensitive. The employee consistently demonstrates the highest level of integrity and accountability in achieving IHS program and management goals.  Employee contributions have impact beyond their immediate level of responsibility.  The employee meets all critical elements, as described in the annual performance plan.  Examples include:
    1. Effectively plans, is well-organized, and completes work assignments that reflect requirements;
    2. Decisions and actions demonstrate an organizational awareness.  This includes knowledge of the mission, function, policies, technological systems, and culture;
    3. Independently follows-up on actions and improvements that impact the immediate work unit; establishes and maintains strong relationships with employees and/or clients; understands their priorities; balances their interests with organizational demands and requirements; effectively communicates necessary actions to them and employee/customer satisfaction is conveyed; and
    4. When serving on teams and workgroups, contributes substantively and completely according to standards identified in the plan.
  3. Level 3 - Achieved Expected Results (AE).  Consistently meets performance requirements.  Work is solid and dependable; customers are satisfied with program results.  The employee successfully resolves operational challenges without higher-level intervention.  The employee consistently demonstrates integrity and accountability in achieving HHS and IHS program and management goals.  Employee conducts follow-up actions based on performance information available to him/her.  Employee seizes opportunities to improve business results and include employee and customer perspectives.  Examples include:
    1. resolves operational challenges and problems without assistance from higher-level staff;
    2. acquires new skills and knowledge through traditional and other means, to meet assignment requirements; and/or
    3. demonstrates ethics, integrity, and accountability that achieve HHS and IHS goals.
  4. Level 2 - Partially Achieved Expected Results (PA).  Marginally acceptable; needs improvement; occasionally does not meet Level 3 - AE performance requirements.  The employee has difficulties in meeting expectations.  Actions taken by the employee are sometimes inappropriate or marginally effective.  They do not significantly contribute to any positive results achieved.  This is the minimum level of acceptable performance for retention on the job.  Improvement is necessary.  Examples include:
    1. occasionally fails to meet assigned deadlines;
    2. work assignments occasionally require major revisions;
    3. does not consistently apply technical knowledge to completion of work assignment;
    4. occasionally fails to adhere to required procedures, instructions, and/or formats in completing work assignments;
    5. occasionally fails to adapt to changes in priorities, procedures, or program direction; and/or
    6. the employee's impact on program performance, productivity, morale, organizational effectiveness and/or customer satisfaction needs improvement.
  5. Level 1 - Achieved Unsatisfactory Results (UR).  Undeniably unacceptable performance; consistently does not meet Level 3 - AE performance requirements.  Repeat observations of performance indicate negative consequences in key outcomes (e.g., quality, timeliness, results, customer satisfaction, etc.) as described in the annual performance plan.  The employee fails to meet expectations.  Immediate improvement is essential for job retention.  Examples include:
    1. consistently fails to meet assigned deadlines;
    2. work assignments often require major revisions;
    3. fails to apply adequate technical knowledge to completion of work assignments;
    4. frequently fails to adhere to required procedures, instructions, and/or formats in completing work assignments; and/or
    5. frequently fails to adapt to changes in priorities, procedures, or program direction.


An individual employee performance plan is established annually for each employee.  The HHS-704B, HHS Employee Performance Plan (See Manual Exhibit 7-7-A) is the format used for all covered employees.

  1. Performance Plan Development.  In developing the performance plan, the rating official shall review and consider the IHS objectives and any other important goals and measures, such as those identified by customers and stakeholders.  Each rating official will ensure that IHS goals have been explained and cascaded to subordinate staff throughout his or her portion of the organization.  The cascaded goals will impact organizational activity as well as individual performance expectations.
  2. Discussion.  At the beginning of the appraisal period, the rating official and the employee shall discuss the organization's desired program and management outcomes as well as the individual performance objectives toward which the employee should be focusing his or her efforts and for which he or she will be held accountable during the upcoming appraisal period.  The discussion should also focus on the development of performance metrics that are quantifiable and results-based for each individual performance objective.  Performance objectives should clearly define expectations and performance metrics should define what is expected at the Achieved Expected Results Level.
  3. Employee Participation.  Each employee should actively participate in developing his or her performance plan for the appraisal period.
  4. Responsibility for the Performance Plan.  The final authority for establishing the performance plan rests with the rating official.
    1. Written performance plans are provided to the employee within 30 calendar days of the beginning of the appraisal period, which is January 1.
    2. If an employee enters a position after January 1, a performance plan must be established within 30 calendar days of the date the employee enters on duty.
  5. Employee's Performance Plan.  The employee's performance plan will be:
    1. Specific.  Goals and expectations are clearly stated and direct.
    2. Measurable.  Outcomes are being achieved in comparison to a standard.
    3. Attainable.  Goals and outcomes must be achievable and realistic.
    4. Relevant.  Goals have a bearing on the organization's overall direction.
    5. Timely.  Results are measured in terms of deadlines, due dates, schedules, or cycles.


The IHS performance plan has two categories of critical elements; "Administrative Requirements" and "Individual Performance Outcomes."  The categories include specific individual management and program outcomes that will contribute to the success of the HHS and IHS strategic plans.  The Administrative Requirements section (Part II A of the Performance Plan) will constitute one critical element.  Each outcome in the Individual Performance Outcomes section (Part II B of the Performance Plan) will be a critical element.  It is expected that there will be between three and five outcomes listed for each employee in the Individual Performance Outcomes section.

  1. Administrative Requirements.  The Administrative Requirements critical element describes successful performance in responsibilities that are common to most supervisory and non-supervisory employees.  The following areas are covered by this critical element.  (NOTE:  Supervisors should determine which of these areas applies to each position under his or her supervision and check the appropriate boxes on Part II A of the Performance Plan.  Not every position will include responsibility for every area.)
    1. Performance Management.  Performance management includes the process by which an employee is involved in improving organizational effectiveness in the accomplishment of Agency mission and goals.  For supervisors and team leaders, performance management encompasses planning work and setting expectations, continually monitoring performance, developing the capacity to perform, periodically evaluating and/or rating performance, rewarding excellent performance, and addressing poor performance.
    2. Employee Development.  Employee development includes management and employee efforts to enhance individual or staff performance as well as obtaining skills, knowledge, and abilities for projected assignments, and/or potential future career advancement, including an IDP
    3. Wrkforce Activity.  Includes planning, organizing, assigning, and/or performing work; allocating resources (if supervisory); adjusting to change; and participating in improvements leading to attainment of organizational goals.
    4. Cstomer Service.  Responsiveness to customers consistent with Department and IHS expectations and standards.
    5. Recovering Improper Payments.  This process applies to staff having recovery responsibilities related to grants, procurement, and financial payments.
  2. Individual Performance Outcomes.  This section of the PMAP identifies those key individual performance outcomes and specific end-results that contribute to the success of the IHS.  These results-oriented outcomes should be consistent with IHS program goals and objectives.  Managers should limit the number of outcomes to the most important aspects of the employee's position.  Fewer performance outcomes allows for greater concentration on each one.  Performance plans must include one or more outcomes outlined in the Strategic Plan and management objectives.  This cascade approach should ensure that the performance plans for all employees support the organizational goals of the Agency.  The "cascade" element should be identified in the following way under the appropriate outcome in the performance plan:  "This element also relates to and supports objectives in the HHS Strategic Plan, specifically (cite the specific objective)."

    Each objective/element should include at least one accompanying metric that is quantifiable and results-based and each metric should contain a specific target result to be achieved.  Metrics should address significant program outcomes and improvements such as:  enhanced quality of services and healthcare, new knowledge and insight from research, increased level of performance, and/or improvements in customer satisfaction.  All objectives must be achievable by the end of the rating period.  If numeric information on performance will not be available by the end of the rating period, it must be clear how success will be measured.  Data sources for all metrics must exist currently, or must be on schedule to be available in time to meet the reporting deadline.  For metrics that are expressed as comparisons to past performance (e.g., "increase production by 10 %"), baseline data must be available.

    These requirements must be aligned and directly contribute to the Department's and IHS's goals and priorities established by the HHS and IHS Strategic Plans, Annual Plan, approved budget, and/or management objectives.


  1. Progress Reviews.  There should be continuous feedback between the employee and his or her supervisor.  At a minimum, one formal progress review shall be held between the supervisor and the employee at approximately midpoint in the rating cycle.  While only one progress review is required, additional reviews are encouraged to maximize employee feedback.  Ratings are not assigned for progress reviews; a written narrative is not required unless performance is less than Level 3 - Achieved Expected Results.  If required, the written narrative is made under Part IV of the Performance Plan.  Along with providing an interim assessment of performance, this provides an opportunity for supervisors to discuss and document evolving priorities or other organizational changes impacting employee work assignments.  The Supervisor will:
    1. discuss, and, as appropriate, document areas needing improvement;
    2. discuss with the employee and document any changes to performance goals that may be necessitated by such factors as new program requirements or changes in resource levels, etc.
    3. consider any guidance provided by the Assistant Secretary for Administration and/or the Director, IHS;
    4. when appropriate, obtain employee performance feedback from other managers and staff.  Examples of when obtaining feedback is important include:  the employee was part of a workgroup headed by another manager or staff lead, or the employee was on a rotational assignment or detail;
    5. provide written documentation if performance on any element is less than Level 3 - Achieved Expected Results, including specific deficiencies and steps needed to bring performance to the Achieved Expected Results level.  This will include any reference to unsuccessful efforts made during the performance period, if they occurred.  (See Section 7-7.7E for required action if the employee's performance is determined to be Achieved Unsatisfactory Results); and
    6. both the supervisor and the employee will sign and retain a copy of the progress review.  Section IV of the HHS-704B (performance plan) can be used to document the employee's progress.
  2. Employee Assistance for Less than Achieved Expected Results Performance.  If an employee is rated below the Achieved Expected Results level on any element, the supervisor will provide assistance.  Such assistance may include, but is not limited to, formal training, on-the-job training, counseling, mentoring, and closer supervision.  Assistance may also be provided to employees with higher ratings who seek to improve or enhance their performance.  Supervisors must contact the Servicing Human Resources Office, Employee Relations Office, for assistance in dealing with performance that is determined to be below the AE level.


  1. Appraisal Process Guidance.  The IHS, in consultation with the HHS, will issue guidance and time lines for the completion of the annual employee evaluations and the submission of performance award nominations.  Appraisal process guidance issued by the IHS will be consistent with all instructions, procedures, and requirements set forth in these instructions and will not place quantitative limits on the number of ratings at any given rating level.  The IHS appraisal process guidance will be communicated to all IHS staff.
  2. Performance Meeting.  Between January 1 and February 15 of each year, the rating official will meet with the individual employee to discuss the rating of record and, if applicable, any needed improvement assistance.
  3. Immediate Supervisor's Assessment.  The immediate supervisor provides his or her own assessment of the employee's performance during the rating period under the written performance plan and requirements.  The immediate supervisor will provide to the employee a:
    1. Summary Rating.  The immediate supervisor rates each element.  If the employee did not have a reasonable opportunity to perform a particular element for the minimum period of 90 calendar days during the rating period, mark the element "Not Applicable."
    2. Written Narrative.  Written narratives are required for all rating levels.  The purpose of a written narrative is to provide an employee with specific feedback on his or her performance.  The narrative should give clear examples and describe the level of performance the employee has achieved.  This narrative provides valuable feedback to the employee and serves as an additional means of communication.  (See Part IV of the Performance Plan.)
  4. Ratings below Achieved Expected Results.  For ratings below Level 3 - Achieved Expected Results, the rating official must identify specific performance deficiencies.  If an employee's performance is Level 1 - Achieved Unsatisfactory Results, the immediate supervisor must, at a minimum, give written notice to the employee of his or her failure to demonstrate acceptable performance.  The immediate supervisor must also give the employee an opportunity to demonstrate acceptable performance under a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).  Supervisors will consult with the Servicing Human Resources Office/Employee Relations Office for assistance in dealing with unacceptable performance.  (See Section 7-7.7F below for further information.)
  5. Method for Deriving Summary Ratings.  Each employee's performance will be appraised by the rating official at least annually based on a comparison of actual performance to the written critical elements and the performance standards that constitute the performance plan.  The following guidance will be followed in determining an overall summary rating:
    1. Critical Element Rating.  A rating will be assigned to each critical element (Administrative Requirements and the individual critical elements under the Individual Performance Outcomes).  This rating will be based upon the extent to which the employee's performance met one of the rating level definitions (Achieved Outstanding Results, Achieved More Than Expected Results, Achieved Expected Results, Partially Achieved Expected Results, and Achieved Unsatisfactory Results).
    2. Rating Levels.  The rating level definitions will be assigned a numerical score as follows:

      Critical Element Ratings Points Assigned
      Level 5:  Achieved Outstanding Results (AO) 5
      Level 4:  Achieved More than Expected Results (AM) 4
      Level 3:  Achieved Expected Results (AE) 3
      Level 2:  Partially Achieved Expected Results (PA) 2
      Level 1:  Achieved Unsatisfactory Results (UR) 1

    3. Average the Score.  After rating and assigning a score to each critical element, the rating official will total the points and divide by the number of critical elements, to arrive at an average score (to two decimal places).  The score will be converted to a summary rating based on the following point values:
      Critical Element Ratings - Summary Chart Points Assigned
      Level 5:  Achieved Outstanding Results (AO) 4.50 to 5.00
      Level 4:  Achieved More than Expected Results (AM) 3.60 to 4.49
      Level 3:  Achieved Expected Results (AE) 3.00 to 3.59
      Level 2:  Partially Achieved Expected Results (PA) 2.00 to 2.99
      Level 1:  Achieved Unsatisfactory Results (UR) 1.00 to 1.99

    4. Exceptions.  Exceptions to the mathematical formula:
      1. If an employee receives a "Partially Achieved Expected Results rating" on one or more critical elements, he or she cannot receive a summary rating higher than "Achieved Expected Results" regardless of the average point score.
      2. A summary rating of "Achieved Unsatisfactory Results" must be assigned to any employee who is rated "Achieved Unsatisfactory Results" on any critical element.
  6. Second Level Review of Rating.  The PMAP requires that each rating provided by the rating official receive a second level of review.  The second level of review is conducted by the reviewing official.  A performance rating is not final until it is reviewed and signed by the employee's reviewing official.  This gives the reviewing official the opportunity to review all of the proposed performance ratings in order to:
    1. Ensure that subordinate supervisors are in compliance with the policy.
    2. Address any concerns that may arise from the rating itself, for example, lack of sufficient justification for an Achieved Outstanding Results (AO) rating, or to discuss with the supervisor what he or she is doing to help an employee who is rated below the level of AE.
    3. Ensure consistency and fairness on how employees are rated throughout the work unit.
    4. Ensure that all employees within their organization have received a rating.
    5. Manage the budgetary impact of all of the awards in the work unit.
  7. Performance Discussion.  When the appraisal form is presented to the employee, after the reviewing official has signed it, the rating official will conduct a performance discussion after which the employee will be asked to sign and date the appraisal form.  Signing does not mean that the employee agrees with its content; only that the rating has been communicated.  If an employee declines to sign the appraisal form upon receipt of the rating of record, the rating official will indicate such in the appropriate section of the form.  The employee will be provided with a copy of the complete final summary rating.
  8. Rating of Record.  A summary rating prepared at the end of the appraisal period will become the rating of record.  A summary rating may be prepared prior to the end of the appraisal period, for example, when the employee is reassigned to another position or when the supervisor leaves his or her position.  This summary rating will be considered by the rating official in preparing an end-of-the-period rating of record.  If there are fewer than 90 calendar days prior to the end of the appraisal period, this summary rating will become the rating of record.
  9. Extending the Appraisal Period.  If the employee has performed for more than 45 calendar days, but less than 90 calendar days, under a plan prior to the end of the appraisal cycle, the rating period will be extended.  For example, if a performance plan is established for an employee on November 1, there are more than 45 calendar days left in the appraisal period which ends on December 31.  In this case, the appraisal period would be extended until January 31, to allow for a full 90-day period on which to base the appraisal.
    1. The rating period will not be extended if the employee has performed fewer than 45 calendar days under a plan prior to the end of the appraisal period.  For example, if a performance plan is established for an employee after November 15, there are fewer than 45 calendar days prior to the end of the December 31 appraisal period.  In this case, the employee would not receive a rating for that cycle.
    2. If an IHS employee is issued a summary rating earlier in the performance year while in another position or while under another supervisor, that summary rating will become the rating of record if the employee has not worked under a performance plan in the new position for at least 90 calendar days.
    3. See Manual Exhibit 7-7-B for additional information on ratings for non-standard situations.
  10. Disagreement with the Rating.  Employees are encouraged to discuss disagreements with the rating official and the reviewing official in an attempt to resolve the issue informally.  If the employee disagrees with the rating of record, the rating official must advise the employee of his or her right to respond in writing to the rating.  The employee's response will be attached to the rating form, but it will not change the rating assigned by the rating official.  An employee may file a grievance through the IHS grievance procedures, as applicable, or pursue EEO complaint procedures if he or she believes the rating is based on prohibited discrimination.


  1. Impact of Performance Outcomes and Results.  Successful individual employee accomplishments and contributions enable organizations to meet goals, and will be considered when determining and assigning final ratings, conferring recognition and awards, identifying potential training and developmental needs, and planning future assignments.  Performance awards are an integral part of the performance appraisal process.  As such, they are tied to the rating of record, submitted and considered for approval only at the conclusion of the rating period.  NOTE:  Supervisors may also exercise existing authorities to provide employee recognition for short-term accomplishments using other award types, including, but not limited to, Special Act, Special Service Awards, and Time-Off Awards, as appropriate.
  2. Actions Based on Achieved Outstanding Results Performance.  Employees whose summary rating is AO will receive a performance award payment subject to funds availability within the IHS.  Employees may request to convert a cash award into a time-off equivalent not to exceed an aggregate calendar year total of 80 hours.  Any remaining cash balance will be paid out in cash.  Employees who receive an AO rating are eligible for a Quality Step Increase (QSI).  However, employees may only receive a QSI or a cash award or time-off or a combined cash award/time-off for the same performance.  Further, a QSI may not be granted to an employee who has received a QSI in 2 consecutive calendar years.  The QSI is not automatic or an entitlement and is awarded at management's discretion.  A QSI may not be granted for mid-year accomplishments.
  3. Actions Based on Achieved More Than Expected Results Performance  Employees whose performance is at the Achieved More than Expected Results level may be eligible for a performance award at the discretion of the IHS subject to funds availability.

    However, all employees rated at the AO level must first be paid in full.  Employees may choose to request to convert the cash award amount of the performance award into a time-off equivalent, not to exceed an aggregate calendar year total of 80 hours.  Any remaining cash balance will be paid out in cash.  Employees who receive a rating of AM are not eligible for a QSI.

  4. Actions Based on Achieved Expected Results Performance.  Employees whose performance is Achieved Expected Results may be eligible for a performance award at the discretion of the IHS subject to funds availability.

    However, employees rated at the AE level will not receive a cash award until the employees who earned the "AO and AM" ratings are paid in full.  Employees may choose to request to convert the cash award into a time-off equivalent, not to exceed an aggregate calendar year total of 80 hours.  Any remaining cash balance will be paid out in cash.  Employees who receive AE are not eligible for a QSI.

  5. Actions Based on Partially Achieved Expected Results Performance.  The Partially Achieved Expected Results level describes performance that is adequate for retention in the position.  Supervisors are strongly encouraged to closely monitor an employee who is rated at the PA level and to offer any assistance needed to bring the employee's performance to the Achieved Expected Results level.  Employees who receive a PA rating are not eligible to receive a within-grade increase.  Supervisors must consult with the servicing Human Resources Office for assistance in dealing with PA performance and the procedures required for withholding any within-grade increases that may become due.
  6. Actions Based on Unsatisfactory Results Performance.  If performance of any critical element is determined to be at the Unacceptable Results level at any time during the rating period, the supervisor will provide assistance to help the employee improve (his or her) performance to a Partially Achieved Expected Results level.  The supervisor must, at a minimum, provide written notice to the employee of his or her failure to demonstrate acceptable performance and provide the employee an opportunity to demonstrate acceptable performance under a PIP.  This written notification must include the following:
    1. the specific element(s) in which the employee's performance is determined to be unsatisfactory, including specific examples of how the employee's performance fails to meet an acceptable level of performance;
    2. the performance requirements that must be met;
    3. the specific assistance that will be provided to improve performance;
    4. the specific period of time the employee will be given to demonstrate acceptable performance; and
    5. notification that actions may be initiated to reassign, reduce in grade, or remove the employee if performance does not improve to the Partially Achieved Expected Results level.
  7. Human Resources Office Assistance.   Supervisors must consult with the Human Resources Office for assistance in dealing with Unsatisfactory Performance.


Each year the supervisor will have a discussion with the employee which will result in the development of an IDP.  (See Manual Exhibit 7-7-D, "Sample Individual Development Plan.")  The IDP may contain formal classroom training; HHS University-sponsored training, developmental assignments, cross-training, mentoring, and one-on-one guidance.  At the end of the performance year, the supervisor and the employee will discuss whether or not the objectives of the plan were met.  At a minimum, the IDP should cover one year but may be written to cover a period of several years. For multi-year plans, the supervisor and employee should discuss whether or not the objectives of the plan were met that year and make necessary adjustments for the remainder of the plan.


Each year, the Director, IHS, will establish a uniform awards budget level for the PMAP to ensure consistency in providing financial incentives for performance across the IHS.  A uniform awards budget will help ensure consistency across the IHS in providing financial incentives for performance and will emphasize the PMAP as a high priority within the organization.

Each Headquarters Office Director and Area Director will be required to establish and fund an awards budget to the level established by the Director, IHS.  The awards budget will be managed by the respective Headquarters Office Director and Area Director.

7-7.10  TRAINING

Every rating official should be trained in the practical application of the PMAP in order to ensure its effective administration.  Training in developing performance plans, conducting progress reviews, assigning ratings, and using appraisals as a key factor in making other management decisions will be provided to managers and supervisors.  Training will be designed to ensure that the performance management process operates effectively.  Information sessions will also be held for employees on key aspects of the performance management process.  Rating officials are expected to explain the system to subordinate employees in a manner that enables them to understand the specific aspects of their performance plan and the supervisor's expectations.


As part of monitoring employee performance, supervisors may make notes on significant instances of performance so that the instances will not be forgotten.  Such notes are neither required by, nor under the control of, the IHS.  Such notes are not subject to the Privacy Act as long as they remain solely for the personal use of the supervisor, are not provided to any other person, are not used for any other purpose, and are retained or discarded at the supervisor's sole discretion.  Original employee performance plans will be forwarded to the Servicing Human Resources Office, after completion of the year end performance cycle activity with the employee or any time the employee changes positions, duty locations or separates from the organization.  The retention, maintenance, accessibility, and disposal of performance records are the responsibility of the Servicing HR Office and will be in accordance with the regulations at 5 CFR 293.  Performance records must be retained for four (4) years and transferred with the employee's Official Personnel File when the employee transfers to a new organization within the IHS or to another agency.


The IHS is responsible for monitoring and evaluating its own performance management process, including performance awards within the framework of these and HHS guidelines.

  1. Reduction-in-Force and the PMAP.  When a Reduction-in-Force (RIF) is necessary in the IHS, it will be conducted in accordance with HHS Instruction 351-1.
  2. Performance Credit.  he IHS will assign retention credit to an employee's length of service based on the following requirements:
    1. Ratings of record shall be used as the basis for granting additional retention service credit in a RIF.
    2. Ratings of record and summary level patterns are used as described below in "Guide for Crediting Performance."
    3. A performance summary rating of record is defined as one that is assigned to an employee at the end of the appraisal period, and is signed, approved, and issued to the employee by an appropriate management official; or it is a rating of record assigned to an employee after he or she completes a performance improvement period.
    4. Additional service credit shall be based on an employee's three most recent ratings of record within a four year period of time within and outside the Department in accordance with the summary level patterns below.
    5. An employee who has received one or two ratings of record during the four-year period shall receive credit for the sum of each rating of record received divided by the number of actual ratings of record received (fractional rating rounded to the next higher whole number).
    6. An employee who did not receive any ratings of record during the four-year period receives performance credit based on the modal rating:
      1. assigned for the summary level that applies to the affected employee's position;
      2. given within the employee's competitive level; and
      3. on record for the most recently completed appraisal period before IHS issued the RIF notice.
  3. Cut-off Date for Receipt of New Ratings.
    1. In order to provide sufficient time to compute additional service credit for performance, all ratings of record must be received by the operating human resources office at least 30 calendar days before the RIF notices are issued.  Appraisals received after the cut-off date will not be used to determine retention standing.
    2. The three (3) most recent performance ratings of record within the four-year period ending on the cut-off date for receiving ratings of record will be used for performance credit.
  4. Guide for Crediting Performance.

    Summary Level Patterns Years of Service for RIF Retention Credit Rating
    Level 5:  Achieved Outstanding Results (AO) 20 additional years of service
    Level 4:  Achieved More than Expected Results (AM) 16 additional years of service
    Level 3:  Achieved Expected Results (AE) 12 additional years of service
    Level 2:  Partially Achieved Expected Results (PA) 0 no credit
    Level 1:  Achieved Unsatisfactory Results (UR) 0 no credit