Haslam on merit pay system: ‘We’ll get better’

Gov. Bill Haslam is downplaying criticism of his new merit-based plan for setting state employee salaries contained in a recent state comptroller’s audit.

From The Tennessean:

On Monday he told reporters it’s important to focus on the overarching goal of awarding the best state employees, while acknowledging it will take time to accurately calculate which employees are actually the best.

“We will continue to get better, in terms of how we rate, evaluate people. As I’ve said all along, the most unfair thing of all is to treat everybody the same, and fortunately we’re moving away from that,” Haslam said after an event at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

…If anyone didn’t approve of the new system, Haslam thought it would be the Tennessee State Employees Association. But the governor notes the TSEA, the closest entity to a state employee union in Tennessee, actually sent a letter to the administration in December that applauded the structure of the merit-based pay system.

“The good news is we now have 40,000 employees that are on a really, a three-time-a-year basis, are having discussions about their performance. That’s good for everyone,” Haslam said Monday.

After the Department of Human Resources released information in December about the amount of raises employees could receive through the new merit-based system, TSEA President Bryan Merritt thanked the administration.

“TSEA is pleased to see state employees being rewarded for the great work they do every day for Tennessee,” Merritt said in a statement posted to the TSEA website. “It has been nearly three-and-a-half years since state employees received a raise equivalent to 2.5 percent, and we are grateful for the recognition by this administration of the value of Tennessee’s workers.”

From the Times-Free Press:
But asked last week by the Times Free Press about the audit’s findings, TSEA officials sent a statement saying the organization “confirms the numerous concerns that have been brought to the Department of Human Resources’ attention since the TEAM Act’s implementation in 2012.

“Less than one month away from the first distribution of Pay-For-Performance raises, this audit raises serious concerns regarding the objectivity and fairness of the evaluation process used to determine the raises,” the statement read.

The association also said officials hope the audit “will give further gravity to the concerns voiced by TSEA, state employees, and state legislators over the past four years.”

TSEA also said it hopes to continue to work with the Haslam administration to resolve issues.