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Frequently Asked Questions Classification

  • A position description or "PD" is a statement of the major duties, responsibilities, and supervisory relationships of a position. In its simplest form, a PD indicates the work to be performed by the position. The purpose of a PD is to document the major duties and responsibilities of a position, not to spell out in detail every possible activity during the work day.
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  • The Standard Form 50 (SF-50), Notification of Personnel Action, contains your series, grade, and other information useful to you or required if applying for reinstatement. Refer to box 9 and/or 17 for the series or "Occ. Code." Box 10 and/or 18 provides the grade.

    If you do not have a copy of your last SF-50, you can obtain it from the National Personnel Records Center of the National Archives and Records Administration. Civilian personnel records are normally transferred to the National Personnel Records Center within 120 days after an employee's separation from Federal employment. To obtain copies of your SF-50s, send written authorization to:

    National Personnel Records, Annex
    1411 Boulder Boulevard
    Valmeyer, IL 62295

    Your request should contain, at a minimum, the following information:

    • Full name used during your Federal employment
    • Date of Birth
    • Social Security Number
    • Name of your employing Federal agency
    • Approximate beginning and ending dates of your employment
    • Identify the documents needed and explain the purpose of your request

    Finally, be sure to SIGN YOUR LETTER. No information will be released without a signed request. For more information, please visit their website at: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/civilian-personnel/ 

    If the records center does not have your records, or you have left Federal Employment within the last 120 days, contact your previous agency's human resources office.

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  • OPM does not maintain a library of position descriptions. Please check with your servicing human resources office for position descriptions within your agency.
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  • Position classification standards encourage uniformity and equity in the classification of positions by providing a common reference across organizations, locations, and agencies. Classification standards may cover one or many occupations. They usually include a description of the work performed; official titles; and criteria for determining grades.

    Classification flysheets describe the work, but refer the user to other standards or guides for grading guidance. Some broad standards are issued as "functional guides" and provide criteria for determining the grade level of work in multiple occupations.

    Position classification standards and guidance covering most Federal positions are accessible on the internet at: http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/index.asp for white collar positions, and http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/html/fwsdocs.asp for trades, craft, and labor positions.

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  • Position classification is a process through which Federal jobs (i.e., positions) are assigned to a pay system, series, title, and grade or band, based on consistent application of position classification standards.
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  • Contact the hiring agency for guidance on providing this information. Typically, the hiring agency will accept your band in place of grade in the application process. Your band will be noted on your SF-50 in block 10 and/or 18. If you do not have a copy of your most recent SF-50, please contact your servicing human resources office.
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  • The classification website includes many useful documents, including the following handbooks:

    Additionally, your agency human resources office can answer most of your classification inquiries. To contact OPM, please send email to fedclass@opm.gov.

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  • "Classification" and "qualifications" are often confused; however, each has its own distinct function.
    • Classification pertains to a position or job and the evaluation process that determines the appropriate pay system, occupational series, title, and grade/pay band.
    • Qualifications pertain to a person and describe the knowledge skills and/or abilities a person must have to be successful in a particular occupation.

    OPM publishes minimum qualifications for white collar jobs in the Federal service in the Operating Manual: Qualifications Standards for General Schedule Positions. For trades, craft, and labor positions, refer to The Job Qualifications System for Trades and Labor Occupations. HR specialists use these manuals to evaluate applicants for vacant positions in the Federal service.

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  • Information regarding your pay schedule, series, and grade can be found on your PS Form 50, Notification of Personnel Action. Please refer to box 51 for the series or "Occupation Code", which is defined by the first four digits of the code. Box 60 designates your Rate Schedule Code (similar to a pay schedule), and box 61 indicates your grade.

    If you do not have a copy of your last PS-50, and are currently employed by USPS, your PS Form 50 may be obtained in hard copy format through your servicing personnel office, or in electronic format from the Postal Service's electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF) system. If you are no longer employed by USPS, you can obtain a copy of your PS Form 50 from the National Personnel Records Center of the National Archives and Records Administration. Civilian personnel records are normally transferred to the National Personnel Records Center within 120 days after an employee's separation from Federal employment. To obtain copies of your PS-50s, send written authorization to:

    National Personnel Records, Annex
    1411 Boulder Boulevard
    Valmeyer, IL 62295

    NOTE: The USPS uses the same series as the rest of the Federal Government, except for occupations which are unique to the Postal Service. These unique occupations are in the 2300 series. The USPS uses its own Rate Schedule Codes (RSC), in place of the General Schedule (GS) and Federal Wage System (FWS) used by much of the Federal Government.

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  • A position which has been identified as "supervisory" is typically classified by applying the General Schedule Supervisory Guide, online at http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/gssg.pdf. This guide can be used to evaluate the grade level of General Schedule supervisory positions, regardless of the occupation.
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