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Career News | July 18, 2022

Understanding the One Year Probationary Period

By DCAA Staff Writer

Don’t let the term “probation” scare you. Yes, most new DCAA employees are required to successfully complete a probationary period, but it’s not like criminal probation where you must report to a probation officer. And the majority of probationers successfully complete probation. Here are some common questions employees have about probation.

Exactly what is probation?

The probationary period should be viewed as the final step in the hiring process where the new employee demonstrates his or her aptitude for their position.  This includes conduct and performance.   All new DCAA employees must successfully complete a probationary period; however, in some cases employees with previous federal employment may have this work experience credited toward completion of their probation. Federal law requires a probationary period of one year for new DoD employees. 

Do I get the same pay and benefits as those not on probation?

Generally, probationers have the same employment benefits and career advancement opportunities afforded employees. For example, DCAA probationers are fully eligible for all federal employment benefits such as health and life insurance, the Thrift Savings Plan, and the Federal Employees Retirement System (commonly known as FERS). Probationers may also participate in DCAA benefits, with supervisory approval, such as training, transportation subsidy, fitness subsidy, flexible work schedules, telework, and education benefits.

Am I being evaluated and by whom?

During the probationary period, supervisors evaluate each probationer’s aptitude for their position, looking at things like job performance, conduct, and character. At the conclusion of the one year period, the supervisor’s holistic assessment is used to determine the probationer’s competence for continued employment with the DCAA, Department of Defense (DoD), and the federal government.

Can I make mistakes?

Mistakes are often a normal part of acclimating to a new organization and can frequently be used as yet another tool in the learning process.  However, misconduct and lapses in character, such as lying, or other similar conduct unbecoming of a DCAA or federal employee, are not acceptable.  Additionally, DCAA auditors are expected to obtain acceptable levels of proficiency in their work.  DCAA prides itself in making every effort to support new auditors in this endeavor by providing numerous learning resources, including coaches, to assist them in achieving necessary skills and minimizing performance mistakes. 

Can I be removed?

Probationers who do not demonstrate the necessary conduct and aptitude can be removed from federal service but this seldom occurs. In cases where it does occur, probationers have the right to appeal any such decision on specific statutory bases.    

Don’t worry about probation and instead focus on learning. The majority of probationers successfully complete their probationary period and become dedicated and long serving employees. Read our blog posts on tips to help you complete your probationary period and to learn keys to success.