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Classification & Qualifications Appeal Decisions

Washington, DC

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

Raleeta J. Williams
Supervisory Force Development
Specialist
GS-301-12
Force Development Flight
100 Force Support Squadron
U.S. Air Forces Europe
Royal Air Force Mildenhall,
United Kingdom
GS-301-12
Title to be determined by agency with
“Supervisory” prefix
C-0301-12-12

Linda Kazinetz
Classification Appeals and FLSA Claims
Program Manager
Agency Compliance and Evaluation
Merit System Accountability and Compliance

07/12/2017


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

The appellant’s position is currently classified as Supervisory Force Development Specialist, GS-301-12, but she believes it should be classified at the GS-13 grade level.  The position is assigned to Force Development Flight (Flight), 100 Force Support Squadron (Squadron), U.S. Air Forces Europe, at Royal Air Force (RAF) Mildenhall, United Kingdom.  We have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112 of title 5, United States Code.

Background

The Air Force Personnel Center reviewed the classification of the appellant’s position at the request of her supervisor at the time.  The supervisor requested classification of the position to the GS-13 level based on an increase in the population supported at the RAF, specifically contesting the levels assigned to Factors 1, 5, and 6 of the General Schedule Supervisory Guide (GSSG).  The agency’s evaluation determined the position was appropriately classified as GS-301-12, but increased the levels assigned to Factors 5 and 6.

Position information

The appellant’s official position description (PD), number 9G935, and other material of record furnish information about her duties and responsibilities and how they are performed.  The appellant and supervisor certified to the accuracy of the duties described in her official PD.  We find the PD is adequate for classification purposes, and we incorporate it by reference into this decision.  To help decide this appeal, we conducted a telephone audit with the appellant and telephone interview with the immediate supervisor (i.e., the Squadron Commander, a Lieutenant Colonel).  In reaching our classification decision, we considered all information gained from these interviews, as well as the written information furnished by the appellant and her agency.

The appellant directs the Flight’s staff comprised of approximately 15 positions.  As Flight Chief, she exercises supervisory and managerial authorities over the Flight’s activities.  She plans, organizes, and oversees the RAF’s force development to include education and training, testing, library and information services, and professional military education matters.  She establishes, revises, and reviews the policies, procedures, and mission objectives of the Flight.  The appellant is responsible for the force development activities of the military and civilian personnel, dependents, and other authorized individuals associated with the RAF.

Series, title, and standard determination

The agency classified the appellant’s position to the Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series, GS-301, which includes positions that perform, supervise, or manage nonprofessional, two-grade interval work for which no other series is appropriate.

The appellant’s position supervises a GS-1101-7 Contract Monitor position, in addition to staff assigned to the Flight’s three sections, as follows:

  • The Education Center is supervised by an Education Services Officer, GS-1740-12, and staffed with two Education Services Specialists, GS-1740-9, and two Human Resources Assistants (Military/Office Automation), GS-203-5.  In addition, the education services officer supervises three local national positions performing duties determined by the agency to be equivalent to the GS-5, 7, and 9 levels, and a contractor serving as the “base training manager” performing duties determined by the agency to be equivalent to the GS-9 level.  Based on a review of the duties performed by the contractor and local national positions, we find the grade equivalencies determined by the agency to be reasonable.  The Education Center provides various services including training; testing management and administration; briefing, counseling, and degree planning services; and oversight of a tuition assistance budget of $2.4M.
  • The Library is supervised by a Librarian, GS-1410-11, and staffed with a Library Technician, GS-1411-7.  In addition, the librarian supervises two local national positions performing library technician duties determined by the agency to be equivalent to the GS-6 level, and we find this reasonable based on the duties performed.  The Library offers programs to improve the quality of life for military and civilian personnel and their families, provides services to children and youth including story hours and summer reading programs, and conducts adult and teen programs.  The Library provides unlimited access for Uniformed Service members, civilian employees, family members, retirees, military personnel of foreign nations and their families, and employees of firms under contract to the Department of Defense working outside the United States.
  • The Professional Development Center is staffed with a Career Assistance Advisor position occupied by a Master Sergeant.  The agency determined the work is equivalent to the GS-9 level, and we find this reasonable based on a review of the duties performed.  The Center advises airmen on career progression and planning; oversees the promotion testing, upgrade training, and testing of skill level courses for military personnel; and conducts advertising and publicity programs.  This section also includes the First Term Airmen’s Center, which requires attendance by enlisted military personnel assigned to their first duty station.

Since the GS-301 series should be considered only as the series of last resort, we considered classification of the appellant’s position to other series.  The appellant has a degree in education, and her position involves supervising and performing work similar to positions assigned to the Flight’s Education Center and classified to the GS-1700 Education Group.  For example, she developed, implemented, and provided customer service training at the request of agency management.  This work is typically classifiable to the GS-1712 Training Instruction Series, which covers positions concerned with administration, supervision, training program development, evaluation, or instruction in a program of training when the paramount requirement of the work is a combination of practical knowledge of the methods and techniques of instruction and practical knowledge of the subject-matter being taught.  Regardless, the official PD and our interviews confirm her GS-1700 work is neither the principal nor a regular and recurring responsibility of her position.  Additionally, as Flight Chief, the appellant supervises the staff and operations of the Library, for example, by ensuring the Library is adequately maintained, following appropriate hours of operations, offering monthly programs as required, allowing access to eligible customers and dependents, and meeting other provisions in accordance with Air Force requirements.  She resolves facility management, staffing, and resource issues with the librarian, for example, to decide if the Library should close or change its operating hours, ensure adequate staff is available if hours are extended, and take corrective steps if existing accommodations are inadequate based on agency requirements.  Both the appellant and supervisor stated that the duties and responsibilities of the position can be performed by an individual with either education or experience in the education, library, or professional military development fields found at the Flight.  Therefore, we conclude classification of her position to the GS-1700 Education Group fails to consider the three-sectioned organizational structure and duties of the Flight Chief position, which is responsible for the oversight of the military and civilian force development to include education and training, as well as testing, libraries and information services, and professional military education.

To determine appropriate series, we considered the duties and responsibilities of the position as described by the PD, which was certified as accurate by the appellant and supervisor, as follows:  (1) planning, organizing, and overseeing the Flight’s activities; (2) exercising supervisory personnel management responsibilities; (3) representing the Force Support Squadron with a variety of installation and functional area organizations; and (4) establishing, defining, and implementing requirements for force development programs to ensure services and operations are in line with educational goals and mission requirements.  In consideration of the qualifications required by the position, the organizational structure, and the duties and responsibilities assigned by management, we conclude the appellant’s position is not appropriately classified to a professional series, which is done only when the work requires education and training in the principles, concepts, and theories relating to a field of science or learning characteristically acquired through education or training equivalent to a bachelor’s or higher degree with major study in or pertinent to the specialized field.  While the appellant may possess professional qualifications, her position does not actually require professional qualifications; therefore, it is not appropriate to classify the position to a professional series.  Instead, the appellant’s position involves performing administrative work requiring knowledge of the principles, concepts, policies, and objectives applicable to a program or administrative area.  The essential criteria for classifying positions to the GS-301 series are (1) that the primary work of the position is of an administrative, two-grade interval nature, and (2) that the primary work of the position is not classifiable in any other series.  Since the duties and corresponding knowledge required of the appellant’s position do not favor a particular field, it is appropriately classified to the GS-301 series given the mix of occupations and work performed by the Flight.

The position meets the requirements for coverage and evaluation by the GSSG.  Since there are no titles specified for the GS-301 series, the agency may construct a title, which must include a supervisory designation consistent with guidance in the Introduction.  In addition to indicating she spends 25 percent of her time on supervisory and managerial responsibilities, the appellant’s PD shows she spends 40 percent of her time planning, organizing, and overseeing the Flight’s activities.  The PD describes such duties as establishing, revising, and reviewing policies, procedures, mission objectives, and organization design to eliminate work problems and barriers; planning work for accomplishment by the units; reviewing and structuring the organization to optimize resources; establishing metrics and analysis systems for units to assess efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance with regulatory procedures; evaluating requirements for additional resources; and establishing review systems for the organization.  This work is directly related to the supervision and overall program management of the Flight organization.  We thus evaluated this and the appellant’s other supervisory work by application of the GSSG.

Grade determination

The GSSG employs a factor-point evaluation method that assesses six factors common to all supervisory positions.  Each factor is evaluated by comparing the position to the factor-level description for that factor and crediting the points designated for the highest factor level which is fully met, in accordance with the instructions specific to the factor being evaluated.  The total points assessed under all factors are then converted to a grade by using the grade conversion table in the GSSG.

The appellant only disagrees with the agency’s evaluation of Factor 1.  We reviewed the agency’s determination for Factors 2, 3, 4, and 5, concur, and have credited the position accordingly.  Our evaluation will focus on Factors 1 and 6.

Factor 1, Program Scope and Effect

This factor assesses the general complexity, breadth, and impact of the program areas and work directed, including its organizational and geographic coverage.  It also assesses the impact of the work both within and outside the immediate organization.  To credit a particular factor level, the criteria for both scope and effect must be met.  Each successively higher factor-level description represents additional demands beyond those expressed at the next lower level.

The agency credited the scope and effect of the appellant’s position at Level 1-2, but she seeks to credit her position at Level 1-3.

            Scope

The scope of the appellant’s position exceeds Level 1-2, where the program segment or work directed is administrative, technical, complex clerical, or comparable in nature.  Functions, activities, or services provided at this level have limited geographic coverage and support most of the activities comprising a typical agency field office, an area office, a small to medium military installation, or comparable activities within agency program segments.

The scope of the appellant’s position meets but does not exceed Level 1-3, where the position directs a program segment that performs technical, administrative, protective, investigative, or professional work.  The program segment and work directed at Level 1-3 typically have coverage which encompasses a major metropolitan area, a State, or a small region of several States; or, when most of an area’s taxpayers or businesses are covered, coverage comparable to a small city.  Providing complex administrative or technical or professional services directly affecting a large or complex multimission military installation also falls at this level.

The appellant’s position directs the Flight’s force development activities involving performance of professional, administrative, and technical work, as described at Level 1-3.  Her position also meets Level 1-3 in terms of the scope of the program segment (total population serviced) and the services directed.  The Level 1-3 illustration for internally-focused work within a Department of Defense setting follows:

Directs administrative services (personnel, supply management, budget, facilities management, or similar) which support and directly affect the operations of a bureau or a major military command headquarters; a large or complex multimission military installation; an organization of similar magnitude, or a group of organizations which, as a whole, are comparable.

The appellant and supervisor report that an estimated 4,720 military and civilian personnel, as well as more than 3,000 dependents, are assigned to the RAF.  Also under support agreement with the 501st Combat Support Wing, her Flight provides testing services to an estimated 673 personnel assigned to geographically separated units.  Given the unlimited access to the Library from an expansive population, the wide-ranging services provided by the Education Center to a military and civilian population, and the considerable training and testing requirements associated with military members, we conclude the appellant’s situation equates to the large military installation described at Level 1-3 and defined by the GSSG as a total serviced or supported employee-equivalent population exceeding 4,000 personnel engaged in a variety of functions.

Scope is evaluated at Level 1-3.

            Effect

The appellant’s position meets Level 1-2.  At this level, the services or products support and significantly affect installation level, area office level, or field office operations and objectives, or comparable program segments; or provide services to a moderate, local, or limited population of clients or users comparable to a major portion of a small city or rural county.  Comparable to Level 1-2, the services provided by the appellant’s Flight significantly affect the force development needs of the RAF.

The appellant’s position does not meet Level 1-3.  At this level, activities, functions, or services accomplished directly and significantly impact a wide range of agency activities, the work of other agencies, or the operations of outside interests (e.g., a segment of a regulated industry), or the general public.  At the field activity level (involving large, complex, multimission organizations and/or very large serviced populations), the work directly involves or substantially impacts the provision of essential support operations to numerous, varied, and complex technical, professional, and administrative functions.  Organizations supported by the appellant’s Flight include, but are not limited to, the 100th Air Refueling Wing, 352nd Special Operations Wing, Force Support Squadron, Communications Squadron, Civil Engineering, Security Forces Squadron, Logistics Readiness Squadron, Maintenance Group, Air Maintenance Squadron, Operations Support Squadron, Reconnaissance Squadron, Intelligence Squadron, and the 501st Combat Support Wing.  We conclude the group of activities performed at the RAF encompasses the numerous, varied, and complex technical, professional, and administrative functions described at Level 1-3.

However, the depth and breadth of the Flight’s services are not equivalent to those envisioned at Level 1-3 and thus their impact is not comparable to the provision of essential support operations described at Level 1-3 (e.g., the impact of the full range of human resources management or budget and financial management services on a large, complex organization).  The Flight delivers force development services to the military, civilian, and other RAF populations.  Its library, career counseling, degree planning, and other volunteer education services, though we recognize as important to the morale and well-being of recipients, would only tangentially affect the functioning of the overall serviced organization and would, therefore, neither directly involve nor substantially impact the provision of essential support operations at the RAF as described at Level 1-3.  Further, we find the Flight’s training and testing services are not equivalent to the Level 1-3 illustration involving essential support operations equal to, for example, providing the full range of personnel, supply management, and budget services.  There is no evidence the Flight’s activities, involving the training and testing of staff, carry either the direct (in other words, immediate) or substantial impact on essential support operations similar to the Level 1-3 illustration involving the gaining and/or managing of people, supplies, and money vital to organizations.  Because the functions supervised by the appellant do not fully meet Level 1-3, they are evaluated at Level 1-2.  Further, her Flight’s services do not directly and significantly impact a wide range of agency activities, the work of other agencies, or the general public as described at Level 1-3.

Effect is evaluated at Level 1-2.

To assign a particular factor level, the intent of the criteria for both the scope and effect components must be fully met.  Since only scope is credited at Level 1-3, Level 1-2 is credited for 350 points.

Factor 6, Other Conditions

This factor measures the extent to which various conditions contribute to the difficulty and complexity of carrying out supervisory duties, authorities, and responsibilities.  If the level selected under this factor is 6-1, 6-2, or 6-3, and if three or more of the eight Special Situations described are met, the original level selected is increased by one level.  If the level selected is 6-4, 6-5, or 6-6, the Special Situations do not apply and the original level selected is credited.

The agency credited the appellant’s position at Level 6-4b, but we find her position meets Level 6-3b instead.  At Level 6-3b, the position directs subordinate supervisors over positions in grades GS-7 or 8 or the equivalent which requires consolidation or coordination similar to that described at Level 6-2a (i.e., ensure consistency of product, service, interpretation, or advice; conformance with output of other units, with formal standards, or agency policy) within or among subordinate units or with outside units.  Similar to Level 6-3b, the appellant directs the Education Center and Library supervisors, who in turn provide the consolidation or coordination characteristic of Level 6-2a for subordinate positions classifiable to at least the GS-7 or equivalent grade level.

The appellant’s position does not meet Level 6-4a, where supervision requires substantial coordination and integration of a number of major work assignments, projects, or program segments of professional, scientific, technical, or administrative work comparable in difficulty to the GS-11 level.  The Flight’s base level of work is GS-9,[1] not GS-11 as expected at Level 6-4a.  Unlike Level 6-4b, the appellant’s position does not direct subordinate supervisors and/or contractors who each direct substantial workloads comparable to the GS-9 or 10 level.  Such base work requires coordination similar to that described at Level 6-3a (i.e., the same as Level 6-2a but over a higher level of work).  In this case, only the Education Center supervisor directs subordinate employees comparable to the GS-9 level.  With only one supervisor (rather than each) directing a workload equivalent to at least the GS-9 level, the appellant’s position does not meet Level 6-4b.

Since Level 6-3 was selected, the Special Situations (i.e., Variety of Work, Shift Operations, Fluctuating Workforce or Constantly Changing Deadlines, Physical Dispersion, Special Staffing Situations, Impact of Specialized Programs, Changing Technology, and Special Hazard and Safety Conditions) were considered.  The Flight’s work involves performing more than one kind of work with each representing requirements for a distinctly different additional body of knowledge on the appellant’s part.  We thus credited the Variety of Work situation to her position since the Education Center, Library, and Professional Development Center each require full knowledge and understanding of rules, regulations, procedures, and subject matter of a distinctly separate area of work.  We also considered the Physical Dispersion situation, which is credited when a substantial portion of the workload is regularly carried out at one or more locations which are physically removed from the main unit, under conditions which make day-to-day supervision difficult to administer.  However, even though Flight staff occupy five different buildings, the appellant asserts she regularly communicates by phone, computer, or face-to-face when necessary should she need to interact with staff.  Since there is no evidence the physical separation of staff makes it difficult to provide day-to-day supervision, the Physical Dispersion situation is not creditable to the appellant’s position.  Further, there is no indication in our review that the other special situations apply.  Because the appellant’s position does not meet three of the eight special situations identified, no additional level is warranted.

Level 6-3b is credited for 975 points.

Summary

Factors

Level

          Points

 1.  Program Scope and Effect

1-2

             350

2.  Organizational Setting

2-1

             100

3.  Supervisory & Managerial Authority Exercised

3-3b

             775

4.  Personal Contacts

      A.  Nature of Contacts

4A-2

               50

      B.  Purpose of Contacts

4B-2

              75

5.  Difficulty of Typical Work Directed

5-5

             650

6.  Other Conditions

6-3b

             975

     Total

           2,975

 

 This point total falls within the GS-12 range (2,755-3,150) on the grade conversion table provided in the GSSG.

Decision

The appellant’s position is properly classified as GS-301-12.  The title is to be determined by the agency with a “Supervisory” prefix.



[1] We agree with the agency’s crediting of Level 5-5, which is appropriate when the highest level of base work, constituting 25 percent or more of the workload, is GS-9, 10, or the equivalent.  The appellant does not disagree.  We determined the Flight’s total nonsupervisory mission-oriented workload is 13.55 FTE.  We find the GS-9 work, at 48 percent, fully representative of the highest level of nonsupervisory work performed by the appellant’s Flight.  Positions determined representative of the GS-9 or higher work include the two Education Services Specialists, GS-1740-9; the Career Assistance Advisor; the Base Training Manager; a local national position assigned to the Education Center; and the personally performed work of the Education Services Officer, GS-1740-12, and Librarian, GS-1410-11.  Although some of these positions are in professional series, the appellant has overall responsibility for the adequacy of the work performed while closer technical supervision is provided by the respective first-line supervisors.  Therefore, given the lesser degree of technical knowledge required of a second-line supervisor and considering the relatively lower grade value of the subordinate work performed, inclusion of these positions in the base level determination is appropriate.

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