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In This Section

Classification & Qualifications Appeal Decisions

Washington, DC

U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Classification Appeal Decision
Under section 5112 of title 5, United States Code

Lola M. Bradshaw, James L. Burns, Pamela T. Cheagle, Yolanda Dillon, Ruby M. Fultz, Kevin McEachirn, Raymond S. Roscoe Sr., Virna Russell, Valerie G. Walker, James E. White, James P. Wilber
Human Resources (HR) Specialist (Classification)
GS-201-11
Air Force Personnel Center
U.S. Department of the Air Force
Randolph Air Force Base, Texas
HR Specialist (Classification)
GS-201-11
C-0201-11-06

Robert D. Hendler
Classification and Pay Claims Program Manager
Agency Compliance and Evaluation
Merit System Accountability and Compliance

11/04/2015


Date

As provided in section 511.612 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), this decision constitutes a certificate that is mandatory and binding on all administrative, certifying, payroll, disbursing, and accounting officials of the Government.  The agency is responsible for reviewing its classification decisions for identical, similar, or related positions to ensure consistency with this decision.  There is no right of further appeal.  This decision is subject to discretionary review only under conditions and time limits specified in the Introduction to the Position Classification Standards (Introduction), appendix 4, section G (address provided in appendix 4, section H).

Introduction

On November 10, 2014, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Dallas Agency Compliance and Evaluation accepted a classification appeal from a group of appellants who occupy identical additional positions (hereinafter referred to as position) currently classified as HR Specialist (Classification), GS-201-11.  Appellants were subsequently added or removed from the group classification appeal either at an employee’s request or as a result of an individual no longer occupying the appealed position.  The appellants believe their position should be classified at the GS-12 grade level.  They work in the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC), U.S. Department of the Air Force (AF), at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.  We received the agency’s administrative report (AAR) on April 14, 2015, and the appellants’ comments on the AAR on May 27, 2015.  The appellants perform essentially identical duties and are currently assigned to the same official position description (PD), number 9G572.  Therefore, we have processed this case as a group appeal.  We have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112 of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

Background and general issues

In response to their filing a classification appeal with OPM, the appellants’ agency conducted a review of the classification of the appealed position.  The agency’s April 10, 2015, evaluation proposes lowering the levels assigned to the position for Factor 1, Knowledge Required by the Position, from Level 1-7 to 1-6; Factor 2, Supervisory Controls, from Level 2-4 to 2-3; Factor 4, Complexity, from Level 4-4 to 4-3; and Factor 6, Personal Contacts, from Level 6-3 to 6-2.  The agency’s evaluation concludes the position is appropriately classified at the GS-9 grade level.  No action was taken to downgrade the position.  As stated in an email to OPM, the agency is instead “relying on [OPM] to provide [the agency] with a comprehensive evaluation.”

The appellants raise various concerns regarding the agency’s April 2015 classification review (e.g., that the classifier failed to fully consider available information).  In adjudicating this appeal, our responsibility is to make our own independent decision on the proper classification of the appellants’ position.  Because our decision sets aside all previous agency decisions, the agency’s actions, findings, and review process are not germane to this decision.

The appellants’ position is assigned to the AFPC’s Centralized Classification Division (Division) which is staffed with approximately 125 GS-201 classifiers.  The appellants state they perform work similar to other positions assigned to the Division but classified at the GS-12 grade level.  Currently, the number of GS-12 classifier positions equal or outnumber the classifier positions at the GS-11 level or below within all except one of the appellants’ immediate organizations.  We discuss the Division’s organizational structure in detail later in the decision.  The appellants currently classify positions where the specified or requested grade is to a GS-12 or below grade level.  No such restrictions have been established for the GS-12 classifiers.  The appellants assert the division of work between the GS-11 and GS-12 classifiers acts as an artificial barrier, specifically stating in AAR comments to OPM:

This “servicing arrangement” is just one of many measures that have come and gone over the years to make our processes more efficient, expeditious, or – in the case of the current arrangement – to establish an artificial distinction between the two grades where the GS-11 specialists classify GS-12 and lower positions, and the GS-12s classify all positions regardless of grade.  There is no discernible difference between the duties performed by AFPC’s GS-11 vs. GS-12 classifiers, as they all perform the same level of work.

By law, we must classify positions solely by comparing the appellants’ duties and responsibilities to OPM position classification standards (PCS) and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  Since comparison to the PCSs and guidelines is the exclusive method for classifying positions, we cannot compare the appellants’ current duties to other positions, which may or may not be classified properly, as the basis for deciding their appeal.

Like OPM, the appellants’ agency must classify positions based on comparison to OPM PCSs and guidelines.  The agency also has primary responsibility for ensuring its positions are classified consistently with OPM appeal decisions.  Regardless, the appellants ask OPM to task a classification consistency review of the Division’s GS-12 classifier positions, as well as “all Air Force 0201 non-supervisory positions with a parenthetical title of (Classification).”  They submitted a list of “identical and similar positions across the Air Force that perform the same grade-controlling duties as does [the appellants’] position,” which identifies the incumbents by name and organization without further description of the duties and responsibilities performed by each position.  Since we are unable to determine whether work performed by the listed positions is materially different from the appellants’ to warrant the different classification, we have insufficient evidence to task the agency with a consistency review covering all AF-wide classifiers.

The appellants submitted PD number 9G584, assigned to the Division’s GS-12 classifiers.  That PD describes position classification and position management advisory duties and responsibilities similar to the appellants’, although we note the GS-12 PD specifies work dealing with “difficult, complex, and often controversial” position management issues.  The record shows the Division’s work is distributed between GS-11 and GS-12 classifiers where positions requested at the GS-12 or below grade levels are directed to the GS-11 classifiers for assignment.  Assignments for GS-12 classifiers have no such restrictions.  Based on the GS-12 PD, we assume the GS-12 classifiers perform the Division’s most difficult, most complex, and most controversial position classification related work.  We do not consider further whether differences between the GS-11 and GS-12 positions would result in the latter being so materially different as to support a higher classification.  However, differences in workload assignments and designation of the most difficult, complex, and controversial work to the GS-12 classifiers suggest the positions are sufficiently distinct to warrant classification differences.  For these and other reasons including OPM’s appellate rather than investigative authority under 5 U.S.C. 5112, we are not tasking the agency with a classification consistency review of the Division’s GS-12 classifier positions since we lack sufficient specific information on how the GS-12 positions actually function to do so.  Nevertheless, as discussed on page ii of this decision, the agency is obligated under 5 CFR 511.612 to review its classification decisions for identical, similar, or related positions to ensure consistency with the rationale in our decision.

Position information

The Division Chief, who occupies a GS-201-15 Supervisory HR Specialist (Classification) position, plans, organizes, and oversees the activities of the entire Division and its six branches.  The appellants’ position is assigned to Branch A, B, or C.  The remaining branches are responsible for tasks including, but not limited to, the development and guidance of Standard Core Personnel Documents, oversight of the Division’s classification processes and procedures, automated processes and computer support, and training.  A, B, and C are the operational branches tasked with providing classification and position management services to AF worldwide with the exception of AF headquarters; Air Force Materiel Command positions assigned to Wright-Patterson, Robins, Tinker, and Hill Air Force Bases; and Air Reserve Technician positions.

A Branch Chief position (GS-201-14 HR Specialist (Classification)) is assigned to each of the appellants’ branches.  Branches A, B, and C are further divided into two sections.  Each section is supervised by a Section Chief position (GS-201-13 HR Specialist (Classification)), includes a GS-12 team leader, and is currently staffed with an estimated nine to 15 classifier positions at the GS-7, 11, or 12 grade levels.  The work of a section is normally distributed along organizational lines.  For example, the organizations assigned to one section include Air Education and Training Command and all subordinate components, United States AF Academy, and field operating agencies such as AF Medical Support Agency, AF Historical Research Agency, and AF Safety Center.  We will not describe the organizations assigned to each section here.  However, like that just described, each section provides classification and position management services to major commands, numbered Air Forces, field operating agencies, and/or other components encompassing the varied operational and support command functions of the AF mission.

Our interviews and review of work samples and records of recently closed actions confirm the appellants classify a wide range of administrative, technical, professional, and clerical and assistance positions as well as Federal Wage System (FWS) jobs found in the diverse organizations assigned to each section.  Organizations requesting classification of an encumbered, vacant, or new position provide the Division with an official or draft PD, an argument supporting the requested classification, PDs assigned to subordinate employees if the position is supervisory, and organizational charts and other information about the position to aid in understanding it.  The appellants select work assignments by choosing the next case or “ticket” in the queue for action.  At times the team leader makes assignments based on a classifier’s occupational or organizational knowledge.  Once a ticket is assigned, the appellants validate information reported on the PD such as bargaining unit status, supervisory level code, competitive level code, and sensitivity.  In addition, they determine if a position is exempt or nonexempt from provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The appellants review manpower and other core documents to ensure requested positions are fully funded.  When necessary, they research the occupation such as conducting fact finding interviews with, for example, the employee if the position is encumbered, supervisor, manager, and/or subject matter experts.  If the fact finding reveals errors with the PD (e.g., with the major duties described), they advise and make recommendations for correction to management of the serviced organization.  Once fact finding and analysis are complete, the appellants draft the classification rationale section of the PD.  They notify the section’s team leader and/or supervisor if findings result in an adverse action or potential opposition from an organization.  In addition, the appellants’ position management responsibilities require consideration of the impact of their classification findings on identical, similar, or related positions to ensure organization-wide consistency.  Their work involves reviewing organizational, manpower, and other documents to provide recommendations concerning grade level distributions, most effective organization configurations, and an unsupportable ratio of supervisors to employees and other such indicators of poor position management.

The appellants and first-level supervisors certified to the accuracy of the duties described in the PD of record.  This PD and other material of record furnish much more information about the appellants’ duties and responsibilities and how they are performed, is adequate for classification purposes, and we incorporate it by reference into this decision.  To help decide this appeal, we conducted telephone audits with most of the appellants on June 16 and September 28, 2015.  We also conducted telephone interviews with a Section Chief (i.e., a first-level supervisor) on June 30 and September 18, 2015.  In reaching our classification decision, we carefully considered all of the information gained from these interviews, as well as the written information furnished by the appellants and the agency.

Series, title, and standard determination

The agency assigned the appellants’ position to the GS-201 HR Specialist Series, titled it HR Specialist (Classification), and applied the grading criteria in the Job Family Standard (JFS) for Administrative Work in the HR Group, GS-200.  The appellants do not disagree and, after careful review of the record, we concur.

Grade determination

The GS-200 JFS is written in the Factor Evaluation System format, under which factor levels and accompanying point values are assigned for each of the nine factors.  The total is converted to a grade level by use of the grade conversion table provided in the JFS.  Under this system, each factor-level description demonstrates the minimum characteristics needed to receive credit for the described level.  If a position fails to meet the criteria in a factor-level description in any significant aspect, it must be credited to a lower level unless an equally important aspect that meets a higher level balances the deficiency.  Conversely, the position may exceed those criteria in some aspects and still not be credited at a higher level.

The JFS provides specialty-specific illustrations as a frame of reference for applying factor-level concepts.  The illustrations describe examples of work meeting or exceeding the threshold for a particular factor level while still falling within the coverage of the factor level.  Comparisons to illustrations may not be solely relied upon to exclude credit at a factor level, because they do not necessarily describe the minimum threshold of the factor level.  If the work being evaluated is fully comparable to an illustration at a particular factor level, that factor level may be assigned.  Each illustration is to be used in its entirety in conjunction with the factor-level description.

Factor 1, Knowledge Required by the Position

This factor measures the nature and extent of information or facts the employee must understand to do acceptable work (e.g., steps, procedures, practices, rules, policies, regulations, and principles) and the nature and extent of the skills needed to apply the knowledge.

The agency’s evaluation proposed crediting the appellants’ position at Level 1-6.  We, however, found the knowledge required of their position exceeds Level 1-6.  As described by the JFS, positions at Level 1-6 require knowledge of, and skill in applying, fundamental HR management laws, principles, systems, policies, methods, and practices, as well as interviewing, analytical, and research techniques sufficient to conduct fact-finding and recommend solutions to moderately difficult but well-precedented and/or recurring issues and problems.  Classification positions at Level 1-6 also require knowledge of, and skill in applying, fundamental HR management methods, principles, and practices of the specialization, and standardized analytical and evaluative methods and techniques sufficient to:  advise on and/or resolve moderately complex, non-controversial, well-precedented factual, procedural, and/or recurring issues for which there are one or more readily apparent solutions; make informed judgments on problems and issues; perform management advisory services for specific requests related to immediate problems of limited scope; and analyze segments of broader HR management issues or problems (e.g., the functional relationships between specializations and the impact of decisions made in one specialization on the entire HR system).

As described in the JFS, positions at Level 1-7 require knowledge of, and skill in applying, a wide range of HR management concepts, laws, policies, practices, analytical, and diagnostic methods and techniques sufficient to solve a wide range of complex, interrelated HR management problems and issues.  Classification positions at Level 1-7 also require knowledge of, and skill in applying:  a wide range of HR concepts, practices, laws, regulations, policies, and precedents sufficient to provide comprehensive HR management advisory and technical services on substantive organizational functions and work practices; analytical and diagnostic techniques and qualitative and quantitative techniques sufficient to identify, evaluate, and recommend to management appropriate HR interventions to resolve complex interrelated HR problems and issues; techniques for developing new or modified HR work methods, approaches, or procedures for delivering effective HR services to clients; consensus building, negotiation, coalition building, and conflict resolution techniques sufficient to interact appropriately in highly charged emotional situations; and written and oral communication techniques sufficient to develop and deliver briefings, project papers, status/staff reports, and correspondence to managers to foster understanding and acceptance of findings and recommendations.

The agency’s evaluation concludes the appellants’ position does not meet the Level 1-7 criteria above, stating:

Given the servicing arrangement, subject position does not meet the grade criteria described in Factor Level 1-7.  Working actions across a number of organizations based on a “first in – first out” basis and “taking the next one on the stack,” coupled with classifying positions at the GS-12 and below, creates an environment in which the position classification specialist does not have the opportunity to apply a wide range of HR concepts, practices, laws, regulations, policies, and precedents in order to provide comprehensive human resources management advisory services on substantive organizational functions and work practices to organizational supervisors and managers.

We do not agree with the agency’s conclusion that the first-in, first-out method of case assignment precludes the appellants’ position from meeting Level 1-7.  In addition to the first-in, first-out rule being a common office practice, how work is assigned is generally not considered under Factor 1 which measures the nature and extent of information or facts the employee must understand to do acceptable work.  We also considered the agency’s statements that restricting the appellants’ assignments, to classifying positions where a GS-12 or below grade level is requested, would hinder opportunities to apply the wide range of HR management concepts and practices expected at Level 1-7.  Since the JFS implies no such limitations, we considered the GS-12 grade level which we understand would represent the highest-graded positions typically classified by the appellants (though a lower or higher grade level may subsequently be assigned).  As described by 5 U.S.C. 5104, positions at the GS-12 level perform, under general administrative supervision, with wide latitude for the exercise of independent judgment, work of a very high order of difficulty and responsibility along special technical, supervisory, or administrative lines in office, business, or fiscal administration.  Thus, classifying positions below and to the GS-12 grade level, as it represents the top of mid-level positions and is described by law as work of a “very high order of difficulty and responsibility,” may involve consideration of extensive classification principles, practices, and issues (e.g., one-grade versus two-grade interval work, impact of the person on the job, supervisory positions, mixed grade, mixed series, determining the pay plan coverage of borderline positions, and classification of scientists and engineers) and would not serve as a barrier to meeting Level 1-7.

Before addressing the applicability of Level 1-7, we must first establish whether the appellants’ Division and resulting assignments are sufficiently complicated in their breadth and depth to warrant characterizing the work as “complex” as described here at Level 1-7 and also throughout the JFS.  In general, classification positions operating in a production-type environment, evaluating positions restricted to specified grade levels, and providing services to a group rather than to defined organizations would not normally expose such positions to the wide range of “complex” problems and issues characteristic of Level 1-7.  However, we recognize the Division is a one-of-a-kind centralized classification organization unique to the Federal Government.  The Division provides classification services to an estimated 165,000 Federal civilian employees, with some exceptions, throughout the AF worldwide.  In considering the Division as a whole, we identified complicating factors inherent to the appellants’ work driving the knowledge required, complexity, and other aspects of the position to such extent as to affect its classification.  Those considerations include:

Diversity of occupations.  Each of the appellants’ sections provides classification and position management services to major commands, numbered Air Forces, field operating agencies, and/or other components encompassing the varied operational and support command functions of the AF.  Whereas operational commands consist of strategic, tactical, space, or defense forces, the support commands provide supplies, weapon systems, support systems, operational support equipment, combat material, maintenance, surface transportation, education and training, etc.  Considering the AF’s mix of missions and functions, the appellants’ work requires classifying positions to nearly every single GS and FWS occupational family and series, a variety uncommon to other Federal classification offices outside Department of Defense components.  To illustrate this mix, as confirmed by statistics from OPM’s March 2015 data file on the AF workforce, 124,051 employees occupy white collar positions while 51,137 occupy blue collar positions.  Since 29,193 of those employees occupy supervisory positions and 4,253 occupy leader positions, the appellants’ work requires application of the General Schedule Supervisory Guide and other applicable classification standards.  With 2,797 AF employees assigned to foreign territories, their classification work also requires consideration of the varied overseas missions and functions in addition to the presence of foreign nationals as, for example, part of the subordinate workforce when evaluating supervisory work.

Moreover, the Section Chief estimates at least 50 percent of the appellants’ work involves classifying new positions where reviews are potentially more exhaustive and present greater position management implications.  We reviewed the records provided to OPM for a seven-day period of closed actions divided by major commands, and we noted the closed actions involving new positions varied from a low of 15 percent to a high of 50 percent; overall, the classification of new positions represented 37 percent of all cases across the major commands.  Regardless, the Section Chief asserts that actions involving encumbered positions, which represent 38 percent of all cases across the major commands, are also problematic as an incumbent, supervisor, or others may submit a rationale based on often questionable and occasionally misleading information.  For these and other request types (e.g., an estimated 27 percent of cases are for backfills/vacant positions), the Section Chief explains the appellants are expected to apply seasoned judgment to review the record, discount unsupportable information, establish the facts of the case, and make an appropriate classification determination independently without further review necessary by the leader, Section Chief, and higher-level Division classifiers.  One out of five cases, as estimated by the Section Chief, leads to rebuttals (i.e., “reclamas” as identified by the Division) from an organization requesting reconsideration of classification findings.  The appellants respond to rebuttals by considering the disagreements raised by the requestor and drafting a detailed justification of findings on the technical merits of the case.  Rebuttal responses are generally reviewed by the supervisor and/or higher-level Division classifiers.

The appellants’ position management tasks and assignments are a product of either their findings from individual classification actions or are provided at the request of an organization’s management, as well as from participation on bottom-up reviews which we discuss in more detail later in the decision.  Although we realize the appellants provide classification and position management services to a group rather than to defined organizations, their work nonetheless requires knowledge of the mission and structure of the organization combined with the general position management configuration acceptable to AF organizations.  For example, they provide management of an organization with advice on the overlap and duplication of work, the number of supportable supervisor and leader positions, and the structuring of positions for career path or recruitment purposes.  The Section Chief states that, due to the absence of a local classification presence, the appellants provide advice to management of an organization regarding PD adequacy as well as the full gamut of classification and position management issues.  Management from serviced organizations contact the appellants directly for classification, position management, and related advice based on having established a relationship or previous interaction with them.

Positions at joint bases.  The Defense Department combines bases, across Services, in close proximity to or sharing a boundary with each other to gain efficiencies by consolidating installation management functions under a lead Service.  At the joint base, a Service hosts one or more of the military components utilizing the base.  As the appellants provide classification and position management services to joint-based organizations when AF is designated as the lead Service, their position requires reviewing and interpreting host tenant agreements to establish AF’s classification authority over such positions.  Since positions under evaluation often perform work in support of and/or were previously assigned to other military components, the appellants’ position also requires knowledge of non-AF organizational structures, missions, functions, and guidelines.  According to the Section Chief, classifying joint-based positions is often challenging as incumbents or management of the positions often expect an evaluation to the higher grade as work is for/on a joint base, and thus challenge classification findings when the higher grade is unsupportable.

Alternative classification systems.  In addition, the appellants’ position requires knowledge of non-title 5 classification systems.  For example, they classify positions covered by the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS), where positions are classified into mission categories, occupational groups, work categories, work levels, and pay bands.  Gathering sufficient information regarding the position’s duties and responsibilities is often problematic as work assignments are top secret and, as a result, the record is vague or convoluted.  Also, in the post-National Security Personnel System (NSPS) environment, a number of AF positions remain assigned to NSPS PDs.  The appellants are responsible for ensuring such positions are placed on appropriately classified GS PDs.  Although the Division does not have classification authority over positions covered by the Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project, the appellants provide classification-related advisories to Project management who are delegated classification authority.  Their work requires knowledge of the rules, regulations, and key features of the Project’s classification system to review the occupational series and title (e.g., the appropriateness of including a “Supervisory” parenthetical) of positions in the pay-for-performance system as well as recommending, when necessary, to management the appropriate broadband salary group suitable to the position.

Special Projects.  A majority of AF’s classification work is centralized at the Division.  So in addition to juggling three to five position review requests and rebuttals, the appellants are assigned to participate or lead special projects aimed at improving internal classification processes and procedures across nearly all of AF, performing consistency reviews as a result of appeal decisions issued by the Defense Department and/or the OPM, reviewing and commenting on draft PCSs, and/or conducting bottom-up and other organization-wide classification reviews with manpower officials (to, for example, ensure positions are fully funded and organizational charts and documents are current and accurate).  Although their official PD allocates 10 percent of their time to work on special initiatives, studies, and projects, the appellants state the actual percentage of time spent on such work may occupy more or less of their workload depending on the demands of current work assignments.  They, however, regularly operate in teams to advance recommendations for improving internal processes relating to the Division’s classification, FLSA, and other work.  Their process improvement, classification consistency, draft PCS, and other work on special projects is performed from the standpoint of improving or impacting the immediate Division organization as well as all AF organizations for which they provide services.

We identified several factors bolstering the appellants’ work at the Division, which serves a two-fold responsibility of carrying out production operations for classification and position management services as well as maintaining AF-wide classification consistency.  For the totality of reasons discussed above, we conclude their position involves sufficiently “complex” cases cited here at Level 1-7 and throughout the JFS.

The knowledge required by the appellants’ position fully meets Level 1-7.  As at this level, their position requires knowledge of, and skill in applying, a wide range of classification, job grading, and position management principles, practices, laws, regulations, policies, and precedents sufficient to provide comprehensive HR management advisory and technical services when, e.g., reviewing and classifying positions and preparing various reports of findings.  Also at Level 1-7, the appellants apply analytical and diagnostic techniques and qualitative and quantitative techniques sufficient to identify, evaluate, and recommend to management HR interventions to resolve complex interrelated HR problems and issues.  To provide position management advice, they analyze and consider the far-reaching impact of their classification findings on identical, similar, or related positions to ensure organization-wide consistency.  Their position management work also requires analyzing manpower and other documents to provide substantive recommendations concerning grade level distributions, most effective organization configurations, the identification and elimination of poor position management indicators, and the establishment of an appropriate career path for recruitment of developmental positions.  Like Level 1-7, the appellants modify HR work methods and approaches when classifying and advising on new or unique positions.  When findings result in the downgrade of a position, they apply consensus building, negotiation, and conflict resolution techniques sufficient to interact in highly charged emotional situations to explain and defend the downgrade to the employee and, when necessary, garner support from management officials for recommendations concerning the classification of identical, similar, or related positions within the organization.  They also use written and oral communication techniques sufficient to deliver verbal findings and correspondence to employees, supervisors, and managers to gain understanding and acceptance of findings and recommendations as described at Level 1-7.

Similar to the specialty-specific illustration at Level 1-7, the appellants make fine distinctions in the proper crediting of factor levels and ultimate allocation of grade levels.  They communicate grade distinctions to management with supporting criteria and justification for all classification actions.  The appellants also perform position management assessments to provide recommendations to management, highlighting career development principles and practices.

The appellants’ position does not meet Level 1-8, where positions require mastery of advanced HR management principles, concepts, regulations, and practices, analytical methods and techniques, and seasoned consultative skill sufficient to resolve HR management problems not susceptible to treatment of standard methods.  The specialty-specific illustration at Level 1-8 describes a position requiring mastery of, and skill in applying, advanced HR principles, concepts, and practices, including position management and organizational design sufficient to:  serve as the agency’s focal point for technical guidance on implementing and administering position classification programs at assigned facilities; maintain and ensure headquarters-wide position classification accuracy and consistency in interpreting and applying position classification standards and in reviewing classification appeal packages for major program implications; and advise facilities on the accepted principles and rules of judgment in analyzing contentious and complex individual position and organization structure issues.  In addition to not serving as the agency’s technical focal point on classification, the appellants neither serve as advisors to facility-level counterparts on the accepted classification and position management principles and practices for contentious and complex issues nor do they ensure headquarters-wide position classification accuracy and consistency as described by the Level 1-8 illustration.

Factor 1-7 is credited for 1,250 points.

Factor 2, Supervisory Controls

This factor covers the nature and extent of direct or indirect controls exercised by the supervisor, the employee’s responsibility, and the review of completed work.

The agency’s evaluation proposed crediting the appellants’ position at Level 2-3.  We, however, found the supervisory controls of their position exceed Level 2-3.  As described by the JFS, the supervisor at Level 2-3 outlines or discusses possible problem areas and defines objectives, plans, priorities, and deadlines.  Assignments have clear precedents requiring successive steps in planning and execution.  The employee independently plans and carries out the assignments in conformance with accepted policies and practices; adheres to instructions, policies, and guidelines in exercising judgment to resolve commonly encountered work problems and deviations; and brings controversial information or findings to the supervisor’s attention for direction.  At Level 2-3, the supervisor provides assistance on controversial or unusual situations that do not have clear precedents; reviews completed work for conformity with policy, the effectiveness of the employee’s approach to the problem, technical soundness, and adherence to deadlines; and does not usually review in detail the methods used to complete the assignment.

As described in the JFS, the supervisor at Level 2-4 outlines overall objectives and available resources.  The employee and supervisor, in consultation, discuss timeframes, scope of the assignment including possible stages, and possible approaches.  The employee determines the most appropriate principles, practices, and methods to apply in all phases of assignments, including the approach to be taken, degree of intensity, and depth of research in management of advisories; frequently interprets regulations on his/her own initiative, applies new procedures to resolve complex and/or intricate, controversial, or unprecedented issues and problems, and resolves most of the conflicts that arise; and keeps the supervisor informed of progress and of potentially controversial matters.  At Level 2-4, the supervisor reviews completed work for soundness of overall approach, effectiveness in meeting requirements or producing expected results, the feasibility of recommendations, and adherence to requirements.  The supervisor does not usually review methods used.

The agency’s evaluation proposed crediting the appellants’ position at Level 2-3 instead of 2-4, stating:

Core to meeting Factor Level 2-4 is independently managing an assigned workload while accomplishing the work with little or no supervisory involvement.  Under the current servicing arrangement, the position does not manage an assigned workload since the position, while working actions on a “first in-out basis” does not service discrete organizations which would require the employee to manage the workload generated by serviced organizations, to include balancing the provision of classification servicing across the organizations serviced to ensure the needs of each organization are being met.

Since the GS-200 JFS is intended for application to operating, policy, and other positions in a wide variety of settings, Level 2-4 is not dependent on a particular type of servicing arrangement but instead on the type and level of supervision exercised in relation to individual work assignments.  We found the appellants’ position fully meets Level 2-4.  Work assignments are made by either their choosing the next case in queue for review, or by the team leader making specific assignments based on an individual classifier’s occupational or organizational knowledge.  Comparable to Level 2-4, the appellants consult with the team leader and/or Section Chief on timeframes and possible approaches to rebuttals received from organizations requesting reconsideration of classification findings and other work assignments.  According to the Section Chief, theirs is not a metric-driven organization and the Division, though having overall goals (e.g., one or two day turnaround on uncomplicated classification review requests), has no pre-established deadlines.  Complicated classification reviews often involve additional completion time, thus requiring the appellant to negotiate acceptable timeframes and deadlines with the team leader or others.  Since they are responsible for responding to rebuttals, the appellants fit it into their current workload while negotiating with the team leader or others on timeframes based on a review of the rebuttal, the specific disagreements raised, and the anticipated amount of time needed to draft their findings along with consideration of their current workload.

Like Level 2-4, the appellants independently determine the most appropriate classification and position management practices and approaches to follow in all aspects of the assignment including the depth of fact-finding and research required, the relevant PCSs and other guidelines applicable to the case, and the degree to which identical, similar, or related positions within an organization may be impacted.  Also at Level 2-4, the appellants independently interpret classification guidance and apply new procedures to resolve complex issues when, for example, a position is unique or newly established; the organization provides inadequate or questionable information requiring extensive research and verification; or the work, having been previously performed by a military position, has no directly applicable PCS available for comparison.  The appellants keep the team leader and/or supervisor apprised of barriers to progress and potentially controversial issues (e.g., organizational opposition).  Also similar to Level 2-4, the supervisors review their work for soundness of overall approach, general effectiveness in producing expected results, and adherence to requirements.  The team leaders and supervisors generally do not review the technical methods used or the findings of an individual assignment, but they may have more involvement if an organization files a rebuttal within fifteen days of receipt of classification findings.

The appellants’ position does not meet Level 2-5, where the supervisor provides only administrative and policy direction in terms of broadly defined missions or functions of the organization.  Their position, unlike Level 2-5, is also not responsible for a significant program or function; defining objectives; interpreting policies promulgated by authorities senior to the immediate supervisor and determining their effect on program needs; independently planning, designing, and carrying out the work to be done; and serving as a technical authority.  Supervisors of the appellants’ position also do not review work for potential impact on broad agency policy objectives and program goals as expected at Level 2-5 as the appellants are not responsible for a significant program or function that would potentially have such an effect.

Level 2-4 is credited for 450 points.

Factor 3, Guidelines

This factor covers the nature of guidelines and the judgment employees need to apply them.

At Level 3-3, the employee uses a wide variety of reference materials and manuals; however, they are not always directly applicable to issues and problems or have gaps in specificity.  Precedents are available outlining the preferred approach to more general problems or issues.  The employee uses judgment in researching, choosing, interpreting, modifying, and applying available guidelines for adaptation to specific problems or issues.

At Level 3-4, the employee uses guidelines and precedents that are very general regarding agency policy statements and objectives.  Guidelines specific to assignments are often scarce, inapplicable, or have gaps in specificity that require considerable interpretation and/or adaptation for application to issues and problems.  The employee uses judgment, initiative, and resourcefulness in deviating from established methods to:  modify, adapt, and/or refine broader guidelines to resolve specific complex and/or intricate issues and problems; treat specific issues or problems; research trends and patterns; develop new methods and criteria; and/or propose new policies and practices.

The guidelines applicable to the appellants’ position meet Level 3-3.  Similar to this level, their work requires applying a wide range of available reference materials, manuals, and handbooks.  In addition to applying applicable Federal laws and regulations, the appellants’ work requires applying classification and job grading standards and supplemental guidance issued by OPM (e.g., the Introduction, The Classifier’s Handbook, and Digest of Significant Classification Decisions and Opinions).  The guidelines are not always directly applicable to issues and problems at hand or have gaps in specificity when, for example, classifying positions when no directly applicable standards have been published.  The appellants select the PCS with the best fit and, as found at Level 3-3, use judgment, initiative, and resourcefulness to apply the grade-level criteria to the position under evaluation.  Precedents in the form of previous OPM and AF classification decisions may be available.  Regardless, the availability of such precedents does not undermine the judgment required by the appellants in researching, choosing, interpreting, and applying PCSs and other guidelines for specific work problems or issues as expected at Level 3-3.

The appellants seek to credit their position at Level 3-4, stating in their comments on the AAR that their work regularly requires classifying evolving or unusual positions, making PCSs and other guidelines difficult to choose and apply, as well as conducting extensive fact-finding to verify position information submitted for evaluation by organizations.  They also state:

When we provide position management advisory services, an [AF Instruction] may specify a particular function to be performed by a certain organizational segment, and the Unit Manpower Document will specify how many manpower authorizations are available, but these will not address how positions are to be structured and layered to achieve the most effective and efficient organizational design.  Our management advisory work requires us to adapt and refine broader guidelines to resolve complex and intricate issues that require the application of a range of HR disciplines.

To some degree, many positions like the appellants’ are expected to adhere to very general agency instructions, policy statements, and reference materials such as statements of work, memorandums of agreement, and support agreements which by their very nature are broad and contain gaps in specificity.  Level 3-4 positions are partly distinguished by the extent to which work relies on the appropriate interpretation and adaptation of the “very general” guidelines to successfully perform assignments (i.e., to use judgment, initiative, and resourcefulness to deviate from the recognized or accepted approach).  Level 3-4 guidelines are also often scarce, inapplicable, or have gaps in specificity.  The appellants’ work normally requires classifying positions where the requested grade is to a GS-12 or below grade level.  Regardless of the extent of fact-finding required and the new, evolving, or unusual nature of an evaluated position, their work is supported by a framework of PCSs, precedent decisions, and other supplemental classification guidelines which provide for more than a basic outline of the results desired.  Unlike Level 3-4, the guidelines applicable to the appellants’ position classification and management work are not of the “very general” variety; not characterized by their scarcity or inapplicability; or applied for the purpose of deviating from the established or accepted method to develop new methods and criteria, propose new policies and practices, or work of equivalent scale.

In addition, the appellants provide position management advice and recommendations relating to the impact of classification findings on identical, similar, or related positions; career paths for recruitment; and instances of job dilution, supervisory layering, and other poor position management indicators.  Regardless of their assertions concerning the scarcity and nebulous nature of guidelines applicable to position management work, the appellants’ work does not require the substantial interpretation and adaption of the manpower documents and other guidelines to fit the specific issue or situation at hand as expected at Level 3-4.  Instead, their work requires providing practical recommendations (based on sound classification and position management principles and practices, rather than on the considerable interpretation and adaptation of manpower and other guidelines) to organizational leaders on the arrangement of a more effective and efficient organization from the classification standpoint.

Level 3-3 is credited for 275 points.

Factor 4, Complexity

This factor covers the nature, number, variety, and intricacy of tasks, steps, processes, or methods in the work performed; the difficulty in identifying what needs to be done; and the difficulty and originality involved in performing the work.

The agency’s evaluation proposed crediting the appellants’ position at Level 4-3.  As described in the JFS, work at Level 4-3 consists of applying established analytical techniques to problems and issues more of a technical rather than an advisory nature, and issues and problems of the same type.  The employee determines the most effective technical approaches to the problem requiring the application of established analytical techniques and methods and standard regulations and procedures; verifies and assesses relevant facts from several sources, examines documentation, ensures compliance with applicable regulations and procedures, analyzes and reconciles discrepancies or inconsistencies, and researches precedent studies; and/or resolves a moderate range of problems or situations requiring the use of established analytical techniques to isolate and evaluate appropriate precedents, to examine and analyze documentation, to reconcile discrepancies or inconsistences, and to develop supportable conclusions based on standardized research.  At Level 4-3, the employee identifies a variety of issues and their factual relationships, analyzes relevant factors and conditions, and chooses a course of action from many alternatives; considers and integrates management’s request with the appropriateness and applicability of established HR policies, regulations, and procedures; recognizes the need to modify established procedures in response to persistent problems; and/or analyzes appropriate principles, laws, practices, and procedures to determine interrelationships between existing conditions and issues.

We find the complexity of the appellants’ position exceeds Level 4-3.  Their work requires performing both technical and advisory functions (as confirmed by our interviews and the official PD which states the primary purpose of the position is to “serve as a [HR] Specialist in Classification with responsibility for planning, developing, and carrying out the full range of position classification and position management advisory services associated with the day-to-day servicing”), rather than the mostly technical role anticipated at Level 4-3.  The appellants deal with a variety of issues and problems, and the research they conduct to develop supportable classification and position management findings is variable rather than standardized as described at Level 4-3.  Their position also exceeds the illustration at Level 4-3; for example, the illustration describes a position serving as a member of a position classification and position management office in a facility, performing limited management advisory services, working within established parameters, involving generally noncontroversial positions, and requiring the exercise of judgment in deciding which factor level is appropriate when classifying easy-to-understand positions.

As described by the JFS, work at Level 4-4 consists of resolving problems and issues that often involve conflicting or incomplete information; applying analytical techniques that frequently require modification to accommodate a wide range of variables; and/or addressing substantive technical issues or problems characterized by complex, controversial, and/or sensitive matters that contain several interrelated issues.  The employee conducts detailed planning to gather and interpret information and data for assessing complex problems, issues and unusual circumstances; determines the most effective and efficient approach to meet customer requirements; identifies ways to improve or enhance current HR services to ensure that services meet management’s business objectives; assesses situations that are complicated by ambiguous, disputed, conflicting, and/or incomplete data requiring significant reconstruction to isolate issues and/or problems; participates in analyzing the effects of changes in law and regulations; identifies and clarifies problems and issues to propose recommendations; reconciles conflicting or incomplete information; identifies and extracts additional information; defines the problem in terms compatible with appropriate laws, policies, or regulations; and/or weighs pertinent facts in formulating a legal and/or factually supportable position.  At Level 4-4, the employee exercises originality by analyzing and refining existing work methods and techniques; and/or analyzes specific legal issues and problems by refining existing analytical techniques.

Although the agency’s evaluation states their audit findings revealed none of the criteria for Level 4-4 were met, we found the complexity of the appellants’ position fully meets Level 4-4.  To determine the appropriate classification of a wide range of administrative, technical, professional, and clerical and assistance as well as wage positions, the appellants validate the information submitted by an organization.  Reviewing the information often requires determining whether the organization is structured as depicted by organizational charts and other documents, the employee accurately described or embellished the work being performed, and if duties and responsibilities are better aligned with another position or organization.  As at Level 4-4, resolving these and other issues require developing the often incomplete or conflicting information available to provide defensible classification and position management findings.  Also at this level, the appellants are responsible for addressing substantive technical issues or problems characterized by complex, controversial, and/or sensitive matters containing several interrelated issues.  For example, their position management work requires evaluating the classification of identical, similar, or related positions to ensure organization-wide consistency, which may include or lead to addressing HR related issues such as employee relations; staffing and recruitment; career development; and job dilution, supervisory layering, and other organizational design concerns.

The appellants apply analytical techniques frequently requiring modification to accommodate a wide range of variables as expected at Level 4-4.  The military environment of the AF exposes them to such variables when, for example, they assist organizations with identifying the classification implications of restructuring formerly military duties into civilian positions.  When an organization is restructured, downsized, or consolidated (as with the establishment of joint bases with other Service components), the appellants provide classification and position management advice by reviewing organizational charts, unit manning documents, business object reports, and other documents to understand the mission, identify appropriate positions for the organization, the lines of supervision, etc.  If necessary, they request additional organizational charts and the PDs or descriptions of military, nonappropriated fund, and foreign national positions also assigned to the organization to fully understand the mission.  Since their work requires applying and modifying the fundamental analytical techniques, practices, and principles of classification to also evaluate DCIPS-covered positions, their work is further complicated as at Level 4-4 by the necessity to fully understand and apply concepts, principles, and practices of non-title 5 classification systems.

Characteristic of Level 4-4, the appellants conduct detailed planning to gather and interpret information and data for assessing complex problems, issues, and unusual circumstances.  They complete necessary and extensive research, when classifying positions, to compensate for the often incomplete or conflicting information provided by the requesting organization.  They interview the employee if the position is encumbered, supervisor, manager, and/or others, identifying the appropriate questions to ask to ascertain relevant facts regarding the classification of the full range of GS and FWS positions in addition to those covered by non-title 5 classification systems.  Also at Level 4-4, the appellants are responsible for determining the most effective and efficient approach to meet customer requirements by applying appropriate HR management principles to resolve organizational problems such as supervisory layering, duplication of work, and job dilution.  They identify and clarify problems and issues to propose substantive recommendations, reconcile conflicting or incomplete information, identify and extract additional information, and define the problem in terms compatible with appropriate laws, policies, or regulations as expected at Level 4-4.  When making classification and position management recommendations for a joint-based organization, the appellants take into consideration, for example, if the work is duplicative and/or if it is properly aligned with the military, contractor, or other civilian organizations; an absence of or varying guidelines applicable to the position under review; and an organizational structure, in a state of flux from the joining of the bases, that is characteristically elaborate or unclear.  Like Level 4-4, their work requires exercising originality by analyzing and refining existing work methods and techniques and addressing specific legal issues when faced with classifying, in addition to the wide range of white- and blue-collar occupations, new, DCIPS, and joint-based positions.

Further, the appellants’ work is comparable to the illustration in the JFS at Level 4-4.  They similarly provide complete classification management advisory services to different organization components with a wide variety of position types.  The appellants advise managers on the classification impact of proposed reorganizations from the standpoint of position management and regularly provide technical input on classification principles and practices.  They conduct position classification audits, prepare evaluation statements, and advise managers on difficult position classification and position management cases and issues as they apply to the local organization.  Also like the Level 4-4 illustration, the appellants exercise ingenuity in handling difficult and controversial position classification cases, dealing with positions that may be of high level of interest to senior management, and expediting high-visibility and controversial position classification reviews.

The appellants’ position does not meet Level 4-5.  Unlike this level, their work does not involve addressing issues that significantly affect long-range implementation of substantive operational and/or policy programs throughout an agency, bureau, service, or major military command with numerous subordinate HR offices; or for developing new HR techniques and/or establishing new criteria or approaches and methods for program implementation as described at Level 4-5.  In contrast to the illustration at Level 4-5, the appellants do not develop, in the role of the agency’s chief of position classification and position management, agency-wide position classification/position management policy.

Level 4-4 is credited for 225 points.

Factor 5, Scope and Effect

This factor measures the relationship between the nature of the work, as measured by the purpose, breadth, and depth of the assignment, and the effect of work products or services both within and outside the organization.

At Level 5-3, work involves applying accepted criteria, principles, and standard methods to resolve a variety of conventional issues and problems; and/or portions of broader studies that require developing detailed procedures and guidelines to supplement existing guidance.  Work reports and recommendations influence the decisions made by managers and other employees, and affect customer perception of the overall quality and service of the HR program.

At Level 5-4, work involves resolving or advising on complex problems and issues that typically require analyzing and/or troubleshooting a wide range of unusual conditions.  Work ultimately affects the objectives and effectiveness of agency HR activities, missions, and programs.  The assessment, analysis, and ultimate resolution of problems promote the overall quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of program operations.

The appellants seek to credit their position at Level 5-4, stating they perform a range of classification and position management advisory services for “nearly all Air Force installations,” encompassing a “diverse spectrum of occupations, pay plans, series, and grades.”  They further state in AAR comments to OPM:

We resolve or advise on classification and position management issues and concerns that are complex due to the nature of either positions or organizations we service, or both.  Positions may be unusual due to their involvement with emerging or advanced technologies, or with top secret assignments that cannot be shared with the classifier, or because the position is a unique blend of duties that requires an extensive review and analysis before it can be assigned to a single, generally applicable, series.  Even a seemingly straightforward position can be complicated by its organizational location, whether as a result of joint basing or mergers, or by the organization’s unique function, or by management’s clout and ability to deviate from the set functional framework.

The appellants’ position fully meets Level 5-3.  As at Level 5-3, their classification and position management responsibilities influence the decision-making of supervisors, managers, and other employees of the serviced organizations, and affect customer perception of the overall quality and servicing of the classification services provided by the Division in particular and AFPC in general.  In some respects, the appellants’ position exceeds Level 5-3 in that their work involves the resolution of more than just a variety of “conventional” issues and problems described at this level.  Regardless, the appellants’ position does not meet Level 5-4.  In classifying positions, they encounter and resolve issues and problems relating to a lack of directly applicable PCSs, mixed series or mixed grade positions, determining relevant information required to render an appropriate classification decision, etc.  Their work, however, does not involve resolving or advising on complex problems that typically require analyzing and/or troubleshooting wide-ranging unusual conditions as described at Level 5-4.  To place Level 5-4 in the proper context, we note the JFS describes Level 5-5 work as analyzing, evaluating, and developing major aspects of agency-wide HR programs that require isolating and defining unknown conditions, resolving critical problems, or developing new concepts and methodologies.  For Level 5-5 to rise to work of defining the unknown and resolving critical problems with an agency-wide program development focus, we conclude Level 5-4, though not explicit, describes a position responsible for the full range of unusual conditions encountered by an organization.  In contrast, the appellants’ position, structured as it is to classify positions where the requested grade is to a GS-12 or below grade level, does not resolve the full range of unusual and complex problems encountered by the Division.

We understand the classification of lower-graded positions has its own complexities which we fully discussed and credited under Factor 4; however, restricting the appellants’ classification work does not typically allow for exposure to the full range of complex or unusual problems inherent when classifying higher-graded positions including, but not limited to:  locating related PCSs when evaluating positions above the highest level; conducting extensive fact-finding and research to fully understand the knowledge required of higher-graded and thus we assume more complex positions; and applying the more involved functional standards such as the Research Grade Evaluation, Policy Analysis Grade Evaluation, and other such Guides to more complex positions.

In their AAR comments, the appellants also assert their “assessment, analysis, and ultimate resolution of complex issues influences Agency leadership to change HR policies and procedures, and promotes the overall quality, effectiveness, consistency, and efficiency of program operations.”  In a large classification establishment like the Division with six sections, the regular and recurring work and resulting impact of each appellants’ position would immediately and directly affect the organization under review (and consequently, customer perceptions of the quality and servicing of the Division), but would not directly affect the overall objectives and effectiveness of agency HR activities, missions, and programs as expected at Level 5-4.

Level 5-3 is credited for 150 points.

Factors 6 and 7, Personal Contacts and Purpose of Contacts

Personal contacts include face-to-face and telephone contacts with persons not in the supervisory chain.  Levels described under this factor are based on what is required to make the initial contact, the difficulty of communicating with those contacted, and the setting in which the contact takes place.  These factors are interdependent.  The same contacts selected for crediting Factor 6 must be used to evaluate Factor 7.  The appropriate level for personal contacts and the corresponding level for purpose of contacts are determined by applying the point assignment chart for factors 6 and 7.

            Personal Contacts

The agency’s evaluation proposed crediting the appellants’ position at Level 2, describing their contact with “coworkers as well as employees and supervisors in the organizations serviced” and, as needed, with “higher level supervisors and managers, both internal and external to the organization, when explaining difficult and/or sensitive classification findings or addressing position management issues with an organization.”  As described by the JFS, contacts at Level 2 are with employees and managers in the agency, both inside and outside the immediate office or related units, as well as employees, representatives of private concerns, applicants, retirees, beneficiaries, and/or the general public, in moderately structured settings.  Employee and manager contacts at Level 2 may be from various levels in the agency such as headquarters, regions, districts, field offices, or other operating offices at the same location.  The appellants’ position requires regularly making contact with the AF organizations they service, including high-ranking civilian and military supervisors and managers.  Their work requires developing and cultivating relationships with employees, in addition to the supervisors and managers, at the serviced organization to foster cooperation in gathering occupational information, explaining classification findings, and communicating position management recommendations.  We conclude the contacts required of the appellants’ position fully meet Level 2 criteria.

As described by the JFS, contacts at Level 3 are with persons outside the agency, including consultants, contractors, or business executives, in moderately unstructured settings.  Level 3 may also include contacts with agency officials who are several managerial levels removed from the employee when such contacts occur on an ad hoc basis.  At Level 3, contacts must recognize or learn the role and authority of each party during the course of the meeting.  In contrast to Level 3, the appellants’ position does not require regular and recurring contact with consultants, contractors, or business executives in a moderately unstructured setting.  Their work also does not require regular contact with agency officials several managerial levels removed from the appellants’ position, within their own organizational hierarchy, on the ad hoc, non-routine basis described at Level 3.

            Purpose of Contacts

At Level c, the purpose of contacts is to influence and persuade employees and managers to accept and implement findings and recommendations where the employee may encounter resistance due to such issues as organizational conflict, competing objectives, or resource problems and must be skillful in approaching contacts to obtain the desired effect; e.g., gaining compliance with established policies and regulations by persuasion or negotiation.

At Level d, the purpose of contacts is to present, justify, defend, negotiate, or settle matters involving significant or controversial issues; e.g., recommendations affecting major programs, dealing with substantial expenditures, or significantly changing the nature and scope of organizations.

The appellants’ position meets Level c.  In order to gain compliance relating to findings on grade reductions, organizational changes, and other equally unpopular or contentious recommendations, they must be skilled at persuading and negotiating with all levels ranging from the employee encumbering the position under review to the organizational leaders.  Team leaders and supervisors are not normally involved in the appellants’ day-to-day communication of classification and position management findings and recommendations.  The appellants must deal with and overcome resistance resulting from competing objectives, resource problems, or other conflicts with an organization as described at Level c.

In the initial appeal request to OPM, the appellants sought to credit the purpose of their contacts at Level d.  In their AAR comments, they “concede that such purposes may not occur on a basis that is sufficiently regular and recurring to fully meet the intent of 7-D.”  Since their contacts deal primarily with the classification and position management issues of an individual position and, to a lesser extent, other organizational positions, the purpose of the appellants’ contacts do not normally require them to present, justify, defend, or settle matters on the same scale described at Level d, involving recommendations affecting major programs as a whole, dealing with substantial expenditures, significantly changing the nature and scope of the organization itself, or issues of equal significance or controversy.

Level 2-c is credited for 145 points.

Factor 8, Physical Demands

This factor covers the requirements and physical demands placed on the employee by the work assignment.

Similar to Level 8-1, the only level described by the JFS, the appellants’ work is sedentary.  Some work may require walking in offices and similar areas for meetings and to conduct HR work.  Employees may carry light items.  Work does not require any special physical effort.

Level 8-1 is credited for 5 points.

Factor 9, Work Environment

This factor considers the risks and discomforts in the employee’s physical surroundings or the nature of the work assigned and the safety regulations required.

Similar to Level 9-1, the only level described by the JFS, the appellants’ work area is adequately lighted, heated, and ventilated.  Their work environment involves everyday risks or discomforts requiring normal safety precautions.

Level 9-1 is credited for 5 points.

Summary
Factor Level Points
1.  Knowledge Required by the Position 1-7 1250
2.  Supervisory Controls 2-4 450
3.  Guidelines 3-3 275
4.  Complexity 4-4 225
5.  Scope and Effect 5-3 150
6. & 7.  Personal Contacts and Purpose of Contacts 2-c 145
8.  Physical Demands 8-1 5
9.  Work Environment 9-1 5
Total 2,505

 

The total of 2,505 points falls within the GS-11 range (2,355 to 2,750) on the grade conversion table in the JFS.

Decision

The appellants’ position is properly classified as HR Specialist (Classification), GS-201-11.

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