Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge SCALIA.
SCALIA, Circuit Judge:
Petitioner National Treasury Employees Union ("NTEU") seeks review of a decision of the Federal Labor Relations Authority ("FLRA") finding nonnegotiable a bargaining proposal seeking to fix the rate of incentive pay to be awarded employees of the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") under a pilot incentive pay plan. See National Treasury Employees Union and Internal Revenue Service, 14 F.L.R.A. 463 (1984). The case arises under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, Pub.L. No. 95-454, 92 Stat. 1111, 1191 (codified at 5 U.S.C. §§ 7101-35 (1982)), which generally requires federal agencies to bargain with employee unions about "conditions of employment," 5 U.S.C. § 7102(2), but excludes from that requirement, inter alia, matters which affect management's authority to "direct ... employees," 5 U.S.C. § 7106(a)(2)(A), or "assign work," 5 U.S.C. § 7106(a)(2)(B). We have jurisdiction under 5 U.S.C. § 7123(a), providing for review of final orders of the Authority.
The National Treasury Employees Union is the exclusive representative of employees in IRS Service Centers. In April 1981, IRS proposed to implement on a trial basis, in its Philadelphia Service Center, a new incentive pay program for data entry operators, as authorized by 5 U.S.C. § 4503(1), which provides that an agency may reward an employee who "by his suggestion, invention, superior accomplishment, or other personal effort contributes to the efficiency, economy, or other improvement of Government operations." Under the proposed program an employee whose production rate (keys pushed per hour) exceeds certain quantitative and qualitative requirements would receive compensation in addition to his basic salary. NTEU submitted bargaining proposals concerning this program, a number of which the IRS declared to be outside its statutory duty to bargain. On July 28, 1981, the Union, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 7117(c), filed a timely petition with the Authority to resolve the negotiability dispute. See 5 U.S.C. § 7105(a)(2)(E) (Authority shall "resolve issues relating to the duty to bargain in good faith under section 7117(c)").
In a decision issued on May 9, 1984, the FLRA held all but one (and a portion of another) of the disputed proposals nonnegotiable. See 14 F.L.R.A. at 463-71. Petitioner seeks review of the Authority's order only with respect to Proposal 5, which provides:
The IRS had argued before the Authority that since this proposal concerned the pay employees are to receive, it was rendered nonnegotiable by 5 U.S.C. § 7103(a)(14)(C) (defining bargainable "conditions of employment" to exclude matters which are "specifically provided for by Federal statute") and by 5 U.S.C. § 7106(a)(1) (providing that the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute shall not affect an agency's right to determine its budget). The Authority found it unnecessary to address these contentions, holding instead that the proposal was inconsistent with management's rights to direct employees and assign work under 5 U.S.C. § 7106(a)(2), which reads in relevant part:
The Authority ruled that the provision of incentives to encourage and reward superior performance is within these reserved rights:
14 F.L.R.A. at 470. Member Haughton dissented, id. at 472-74. The NTEU, echoing that dissent, characterizes the Authority's holding as creating a nonnegotiable "right to motivate" which is not found in the statutory scheme.
The NTEU seeks to avoid the force of the Authority's reasoning by arguing that, even if the rights to assign work and direct employees include the right to reward superior performance of the tasks assigned and directed, the underlying activity for which the incentive pay was to be awarded in the present case was not "assigned" or "directed,"
The Authority has the better of this dispute. The Union acknowledges that, although no employee can be compelled to push more data keys per month than the number immediately below the incentive-pay level, if an employee should happen to reach that number within three weeks he would not be entitled to take the rest of the month off. He would be required to continue working — and his assigned work
Since we have concluded that the work for which the incentive pay was to be awarded in the present case can properly be considered "assigned" work, we must confront head-on the Authority's contention that the management right to assign includes the management right to reward superior performance of what has been assigned. That is assuredly not a self-evident proposition and — even giving the Authority full measure of the deference it is due, see Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms v. FLRA, 464 U.S. 89, 97 (1983) — it seems to us simply wrong. The right to reward for superior performance of assigned work is surely a good deal less implicit in the right to assign work than is the right to sanction for inferior performance. Yet the statute sets forth the latter right explicitly, including, as a separate, nonnegotiable management power, the right to "suspend, remove, reduce in grade or pay, or take other disciplinary action." 5 U.S.C. § 7106(a)(2)(A). This demonstrates, we think, that the terms "assign work" and "direct employees" were not meant to be so expansive as to include whatever is useful for getting the agency's work done in a particular manner of priority, but were rather descriptions of a precise, defined management activity.
The Authority's reasoning — that level of incentive pay "directly relate[s] to the potential success of the incentive in motivating the performance of particular job tasks," and thus "to some extent determine[s] the priorities for accomplishing the agency's work," which is the very objective of the reserved management right to assign work — is an example of a familiar defect of statutory construction that might be called substituting the end for the means. It may well be that the rights to assign work and to reward superior performance of assigned work are both means to the objective of enabling the agency to determine its work priorities, just as the carrot and the stick are both means of getting a donkey to move. But the similarity of purpose does not establish that when Congress says carrot it means stick as well. It is for Congress, and not for the Authority or the courts, to determine what means it is willing to employ to achieve particular ends, and it usurps that prerogative to say that if Congress has rendered work assignment nonbargainable, then also nonbargainable is any activity that has the same effect as work assignment. If the
Contrary to Authority counsel's argument, affirmance of the decision in this case is not compelled by our opinions in National Treasury Employees Union v. FLRA, 691 F.2d 553 (D.C.Cir.1982) ("NTEU v. FLRA"), and American Federation of Government Employees v. FLRA, Local 1968, 691 F.2d 565 (D.C.Cir.1982) ("AFGE v. FLRA"), which upheld Authority determinations that performance standards (and certain matters related to performance standards) were nonbargainable because they came within the management rights to assign work and direct employees. The performance standards sought to be negotiated in both of those interrelated cases included standards which established minimum levels of effort to avoid "remedial action." See NTEU v. FLRA, 691 F.2d at 556 (quoting 5 C.F.R. § 430.202(e) (1982)); AFGE v. FLRA, 691 F.2d at 567 n. 10 (same).
NTEU v. FLRA, 691 F.2d at 562 (footnotes omitted). This holding was adopted by reference in the second case, see AFGE v. FLRA, 691 F.2d at 570, 573, where the standards sought to be negotiated included (though they did not consist exclusively of) "minimum level" standards. We view those opinions as establishing that while the assignment of work includes, as we have said earlier, designation of the category of duties an employee is to perform, it also includes (if the agency chooses to be so specific) designation of the precise quantity and quality of those duties — which is unquestionably achieved by performance standards that must be met to avoid disciplinary action.
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We hold that the level of incentive pay awarded for the performance of agency work, even work that has been "assigned" or "directed," does not come within the nonbargainable management rights to assign work and direct employees. The Authority's decision with respect to Proposal