The government yesterday proposed rules it would use to decide, every three years, whether to keep or demote career members of its elite Senior Executive Service.

The recertification process is part of a pay-raise-for- performance deal struck last year between the Bush administration and the Senior Executives Association, which represents many SES members. The deal provides for the recertification process in return for 1991 raises -- ranging from 18 to 25 percent -- for SES members, political appointees and members of Congress.

SES members who fail recertification will be demoted to civil service Grade 15 or allowed to retire early if they have 25 years of service or have 20 years of service and are at least 50. SES members are paid $71,200 to $83,600 per year.

About 90 percent of the 7,000 SES members are career employees. Most of the executives, some of whom manage multibillion-dollar programs, work in the Washington area.

Recertification of executives with at least three years in the SES begins next year in most agencies.

Government agencies and individuals have until Aug. 13 to comment on the proposals by the Office of Personnel Management. Some agencies may be allowed to tailor recertification rules to conform to their special mission.

Executives will graded by supervisors with assistance from an agency performance review board made up of a majority of career executives with some political executives. Only the "appointing authority" -- usually the agency or department head -- can kick someone out of the SES. Executives can appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Demoted executives keep their SES salary. In the future, they would get only half the annual federal pay raise until their actual salary equaled the GS 15 rate. Executives taking early retirement would not -- such as rank-and-file employees -- be subject to the 2 percent per year reduction in pensions for each year they are under age 55.

Under the proposed report card system, executives will be expected to maintain "excellent" performance to keep their jobs. Among factors that would be considered are whether the executives show they actively participated in efforts that:

"Developed and secure approval of a major policy initiative."

"Substantially advanced achievement of a presidential objective in the president's management-by-objective system or agency objectives."

"Significantly improved the delivery of program services."

"Saved the government substantial sums of money" in their program.

Provided training or assignments that "significantly advanced the development" of staff members.

Training Review

Dona Wolf, OPM's director of policy, will head a new three-member team to review federal training/development programs. With her will be Kirke Harper, director of executive personnel, and Michael G. Hansen, head of the Federal Executive Institute. OPM's Rich Holan will work closely with the team. Peter Zimmerman of Harvard University will be senior adviser.