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Human Resources and Security Specialists should use this tool to determine the correct investigation level for any covered position within the U.S. Federal Government.
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Proper position designation is the foundation of an effective and consistent suitability and personnel security program. In order to ensure a systematic, dependable, and uniform way of making position designations, OPM provides the Position Designation Automated Tool (PDT) for those individuals within agencies charged with position designation responsibilities.
Position Designation Automated Tool
The Position Designation System assesses the duties and responsibilities of a position to determine the degree of potential damage to the efficiency or integrity of the service from misconduct of an incumbent of a position. This establishes the risk level of that position. This assessment also determines if a position’s duties and responsibilities present the potential for position incumbents to bring about a material adverse effect on the national security, and the degree of that potential effect, which establishes the sensitivity level of a position. The results of this assessment determine what level of investigation should be conducted for a position.
Before using the PDT, designators should first develop a thorough familiarity and understanding of the PDS. The success and consistency of the PDT are directly connected to the user's understanding of the various possible selections related to the national security and suitability (public trust) requirements, duties, and responsibilities available within the PDS. Without fully understanding the possible selections available, the users could inadvertently fail to make appropriate selections early in the PDT process, and this would impact the accuracy of the final position designation. A full understanding of the PDS and proper application of the PDT will ensure consistency.
If you have questions concerning position designation, please contact Suitability Adjudications at (724) 794-5612, extension 7400. If you are interested in Position Designation training, please view the Agency Training portion of the FIS website.
Parts 1400 and 731 of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations establish the requirements for agencies to evaluate relevant covered positions for a position sensitivity and position risk designation commensurate with the duties and responsibilities of those positions. Specifically, section 1400.101(d) states, “All positions must be evaluated for a position sensitivity designation commensurate with the responsibilities and assignments of the position as they relate to the impact on the national security, including but not limited to eligibility for access to classified information.” Section 731.106(a) of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations states, "agency heads must designate every covered position within the agency at a high, moderate, or low risk level as determined by the position's potential for adverse impact to the efficiency or integrity of the service." Also, each part cross references the requirement for risk and sensitivity designations. See sections 1400.201(c) and (d), and section 731.106(c)(2).
As required by section 1400.201(b) of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), this system is for uniform and consistent position designation of:
To determine the proper designation of a position and its required corresponding level of investigation, the position description and any other necessary supplemental information (e.g. human resources, management and security office input) must be carefully evaluated to assess the nature of the position as it relates to the potential material adverse impact to the national security, and -– if it is a covered position under part 731 -- its impact on the efficiency or integrity of the service.
The following position designation system consists of a four-step process that will guide the designator through an examination of the position’s duties and responsibilities. The completion of this process will result in a final designation for the position which, in turn, will determine the investigative requirements for the position in question.
It is important to keep in mind that for covered positions as defined in 5 CFR part 731, the designator must look at both national security and public trust duties and responsibilities. Some duties accounted for herein occur under both the national security and public trust sections of the process because of the duty’s potential impact on one concern and/or the other. For covered positions, a critical-sensitive or special-sensitive national security designation automatically confers high-risk public trust designation, and a noncritical-sensitive national security designation automatically confers a moderate-risk public trust designation unless, as described in the following sections of the position designation system, it requires a higher designation. See 5 CFR 1400.201(c), (d).
1 5 CFR 1400.102(b)
2 5 CFR 731.106(a)
3 5 CFR 1400.102(b)
4 Pursuant to an assignment of functions under section 2.2(e) of E.O. 13467, the December 2012 Federal Investigative Standards apply to investigations for contractor employee fitness.
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Continuing review of all work by a technical expert, such as:
Occasional review from a perspective of major policy issues by a superior who likely has no relevant expertise in the technical aspects of the duties performed.
The supervisor provides administrative direction with assignments in terms of broadly defined missions or functions. The employee has responsibility for independently planning, designing, and carrying out programs, projects, studies, or other work. Results of the work are considered technically authoritative and are normally accepted without significant change. If the work should be reviewed, the review concerns such matters as fulfillment of program objectives, effect of advice and influence on the overall program, or the contribution to the advancement of technology. Recommendations for new projects and alteration of objectives usually are evaluated for such considerations as availability of funds and other resources, broad program goals, or national priorities.
Ongoing spot review from a perspective of policy and organizational concerns by a superior with expertise in the technical aspects of the duties performed.
The supervisor sets the overall objectives and resources available. The employee and supervisor, in consultation, develop deadlines, projects, and work to be done. The employee, having developed expertise in the line of work, is responsible for planning and carrying out the assignment, resolving most of the conflicts that arise, coordinating the work with others as necessary, and interpreting policy on own initiative in terms of established objectives. In some assignments, the employee also determines the approach to be taken and the methodology to be used. The employee keeps the supervisor informed of progress and potentially controversial matters. Completed work is reviewed only from an overall standpoint in terms of feasibility, compatibility with other work, or effectiveness in meeting requirements or expected results.
The supervisor makes assignments by defining objectives, priorities, and deadlines and assists the employee with unusual situations that do not have clear precedents. The employee plans and carries out the successive steps and handles problems and deviations in the work assignments in accordance with instructions, policies, previous training, or accepted practices in the occupation. Completed work is usually evaluated for technical soundness, appropriateness, and conformity to policy and requirements. The methods used in arriving at the end results are not usually reviewed in detail.
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