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Mr. Hasbrouck thank you for the blog question, a good one.

Agencies can merge the highest quality category with the next lower quality category when there are fewer than three eligible candidates assigned to the highest quality category regardless of the number of vacancies to be filled.

In your example, the agency is allowed to merge the highest quality category of 35 eligibles only when there are 2 remaining elgibles available in the highest category and vacancies need to be filled.

I hope this is helpful

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