- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2001

ANNAPOLIS Almost a quarter of Maryland state employees under a pay-for-performance system implemented two years ago have not been evaluated, potentially costing them the bonuses they've earned through good work.
While the state employs about 60,000 workers, and another 10,000 through its colleges and universities, about 49,212 fall under the pay-for-performance system. The report shows about 11,417 have not had performance reviews that could result in $500 to $1,000 bonuses for excellent to outstanding ratings.
"The governor needs to create sanctions for those managers who aren't doing their jobs," said Delegate Joan Cadden, an Anne Arundel County Democrat and Appropriations Committee member who learned of the problem at a briefing Tuesday night.
Agency heads will have to answer some "strong" questions when they submit their budget requests, said Mrs. Cadden, chairman of Appropriations' public safety and administration subcommittee.
Three state agencies evaluated less than half their employees, according to a Department of Management and Budget report.
The Department of Juvenile Justice undergoing an overhaul aimed at eliminating abuse and neglect of minors the department is supposed to rehabilitate reviewed just 42.6 percent of its employees, according to the report. The Department of Veterans Affairs did not evaluate any of its employees.
"There's something wrong there," said Delegate Wheeler R. Baker, a Queen Anne's County Democrat and chairman of the Appropriations' oversight subcommittee on personnel. "You can imagine employees crossing paths and saying, 'I got a $500 bonus for performance,' and another saying, 'I haven't even been evaluated yet'."
He said the old system, under which many state workers never got evaluations, didn't work well. But Mr. Baker said state employees have told him this one isn't working like it should either.
"It's an abysmal record," said Senate Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus, a lower Eastern Shore Republican who serves on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, which has not been briefed on the report.
House Minority Whip and Appropriations Committee member Robert L. Flanagan said the fact fewer performance awards are being given in agencies that have been underfunded such as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene makes him worry that the system isn't being managed equitably and in a way that's calculated to improve worker performance.
At the same time, the percentage of bonuses is high at some well-funded or favored agencies such as the Department of Planning, which plays a key role in Gov. Parris N. Glendening's "Smart Growth" program aimed at curbing suburban sprawl. Almost 80 percent of planning department employees got bonuses.
"There's no agency where 80 percent of people deserve that," Mr. Stoltzfus said.
Budget Secretary Eloise Foster said she is still trying to find out why numbers compiled by her department show just 76.8 percent of the 49,212 state workers who fall under the pay-for-performance system have been evaluated by their bosses.
She said she suspects that some supervisors only submitted evaluations to the budget department for workers who got ratings that qualified them for raises or bonuses.
In the case of her own department, which reported evaluations for 73.2 percent of employees, Ms. Foster said 25 percent of those not counted as having been evaluated may be appointees who are exempt and work under a different incentive plan.
"Certainly we want this to work and we will be following up," Ms. Foster said.
The pay-for-performance system went into effect when the state enacted a law guaranteeing state workers collective bargaining rights. Terms of the system are on the bargaining table now as unions representing state workers negotiate new contracts.
Sue Esty, legislative director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said her union has received "spotty" reports of people not getting evaluated, but that most of those complaints do get resolved.
Ms. Esty, whose union represents more than half of the state's 60,000 employees, said it takes a long time to make sure that pay-for-performance systems are fair.
Jonathan Carpenter, legislative director for the Maryland Classified Employees Association, said his union opposes the system and is particularly concerned about a provision that prescribes firing any state worker who gets two unsatisfactory reviews in a six-month period.
He said one 20-year employee was terminated under that provision recently in an action he suspects may not have been fair or objective.

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