Employees are listed on a RIF retention register within the veterans' preference subgroups (AD, A, and B) in order of their adjusted length of creditable Federal service. This is computed beginning with the employee's service computation date (SCD). The SCD is the date, either actual or constructed, which is used to determine leave accrual rate, length of service for retirement, or retention standing for reduction-in-force (RIF). An employee's SCD may be the date of original appointment or it may be a constructed date to include
periods of prior creditable civilian and/or military service.
Employees receive additional service credit based upon performance; this is the "adjusted SCD". The adjusted SCD for RIF purposes is the date derived after the employee is given additional retention service credit based upon the average of his/her three most recent performance ratings of record received during the four year period ("lookback period") prior to the date the agency either issues specific RIF notices or the established cutoff date after which no new ratings will be put on record--whichever date occurs first.
Within the Department of the Army, employees are assigned 12, 16, or 20 years additional credit for ratings of Successful Level 3, Successful Level 2, or Successful Level 1, respectively. (Note: This may not apply to Demonstration Projects with alternative provisions.) The total years earned are averaged to give the number of additional years credit for RIF. For example, an employee who began Federal service on June 1, 1980 (and has an SCD of that date) and whose three most recent ratings of record during the 4-year lookback period are "Successful Level 1" will have an adjusted SCD of June 1, 1960 because he or she is given 20 years additional service credit.
There are instances, however, in which an employee has not received three ratings of record during the 4-year look back period. Until recently, the missing ratings were given a "presumed fully successful" value of 12 years. This changed when the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued final regulations concerning RIF and performance management on November 24, 1997, amending Parts 351, 430, and 531 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations. The new rules, effective within the Department of the Army on October 1, 1998, change the way in which RIF retention service credit is determined. The concept of "presumed fully successful" will no longer be used.
Under the new rules, if an employee has received only one rating, the value of that single rating is used to assign the additional retention service credit. So, if an employee has received a single rating of Successful Level 2 during the look-back period, the employee is given 16 additional years of credit. If an employee has received only two ratings, the value assigned to each rating is added together and divided by two (and rounded to the next higher whole number if the result is a fraction) to derive the amount of additional retention service credit. So, if the employee has received a rating of Successful Level 2 and Successful Level 1, the employee receives 18 additional years of service credit.
If an employee has received no ratings of record, he or she is given additional retention service credit based upon the most common, or "modal" summary rating level. Within the Department of the Army, the modal rating is the summary rating level assigned most frequently among the actual ratings of record within the competitive area during the 12 month period preceding the date of issuance of RIF notices or the established cutoff date after which no new ratings will be put on record. If the modal rating for a particular competitive area is determined to be Successful Level 1, for example, employees within that competitive area who have no ratings of record during the lookback period are assigned 20 years of additional service credit.
The new rules also address crediting performance for RIF retention service credit in situations in which there are mixed rating patterns within the competitive area. Mixed rating patterns may occur because there are eight possible patterns (A through H) ranging from the traditional five-level program used in Army to a two-level "pass/fail" program. (A chart of the eight patterns can be found in 5 CFR 430.208.) Because of the existence of different patterns, it is possible for there to be employees within the same competitive area who have received ratings under different patterns. For example, within the Department of Army most employees in a competitive area will have ratings of record received under the traditional five-level program (Pattern H); there may be a few employees, however, who received ratings of record from former organizations that used different rating patterns. OPM determined that agencies should have the flexibility to decide how many years of service credit within the range of 12 to 20 years to assign to particular summary rating levels, and that the method adopted will apply only to ratings put on record on or after October 1, 1997 and only in situations in which there are mixed patterns. In the Department of the Army, the 12/16/20 formula will be used when there are mixed rating patterns within the competitive area. This means that Summary Level 3 in Patterns A through H will be assigned 12 years credit; Summary Level 4 in Patterns C, E, G, H will be assigned 16 years credit; and Summary Level 5 in Patterns B, E, F,and H will be assigned 20 years credit. For example, an employee who has a "pass" rating received under rating pattern A or under rating pattern D will receive 12 years credit for that rating.
Performance evaluations given under a Federal agency system not covered by 5 CFR Part 430 may be considered a rating of record for RIF purposes if the evaluation was officially issued under the agency' performance evaluation system, was based on established expectations, and identifies whether the employee performed acceptably. Agency evaluations meeting those criteria may be found in the Peace Corps, General Accounting Office, and Postal Service, for example.
Department of Army policy on RIF and performance management is found in DASA(CP) memorandum dated June 5, 1998, subject: Reduction in Force and Performance Management.
The Office of Personnel Management has published two handbooks which provide an in depth discussion of all aspects of the reduction in force and transfer of function process. One handbook provides Guidance, and the other describes Required Procedures. For definitive guidance on any aspect of reduction in force, see the OPM Handbooks.