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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

Tammy Lyons
Program Support Assistant (OA)
GS-0303-5
Eligibility and Enrollment Office
Central Business Office
Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Veterans Health Administration
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Erie, Pennsylvania
Title at agency discretion without "OA"
GS-303-5
C-0303-05-28

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

10/14/2016


Date

As provided in section 511.612 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), this decision constitutes a classification certificate which 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 5 CFR 511.605, 511.613, and 511.614, as cited in the Introduction to the Position Classification Standards (Introduction), appendix 4, section G (address provided in appendix 4, section H).

Since this decision changes the title of the appealed position, it is to be effective no later than the beginning of the sixth pay period after the date of this decision, as permitted by 5 CFR 511.702.  The servicing human resources office must submit a compliance report containing the corrected position description (PD) and a Standard Form 50 showing the personnel action taken.  The report must be submitted within 30 days from the effective date of the personnel action to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) office that adjudicated this appeal.

Introduction

On April 11, 2016, OPM’s Agency Compliance and Evaluation (ACE)-Philadelphia accepted a group position classification appeal from Ms. Tammy Lyons and Ms. Stacy Pancoast.  We subsequently cancelled Ms. Pancoast’s appeal on August 24, 2016, at her request.  The appellant’s  position is currently classified as Program Support Assistant (OA), GS-303-5, in the Eligibility and Enrollment (E&E) Office, Central Business Office (CBA), Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in Erie, Pennsylvania.  The appellant believes her position should be classified as Healthcare Eligibility Specialist, GS-301-09/11.  We received the complete agency administrative report on June 21, 2016, and have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112(b) of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

General issues

The appellant raises concerns about the agency’s classification review process, (e.g., no desk audit performed, human resources “downplaying” duties, and disagreements about performance standards).  By law, we must classify positions solely by comparing their duties and responsibilities to OPM position classification standards (PCS) and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  Therefore, we have considered the appellant’s statements only insofar as they are relevant to making that comparison.  In adjudicating this appeal, our responsibility is to make our own independent decision on the proper classification of her position.  Because our decision sets aside all previous agency decisions, the agency’s classification review process is not germane to this decision.

Introduction

On April 11, 2016, OPM’s Agency Compliance and Evaluation (ACE)-Philadelphia accepted a group position classification appeal from Ms. Tammy Lyons and Ms. Stacy Pancoast.  We subsequently cancelled Ms. Pancoast’s appeal on August 24, 2016, at her request.  The appellant’s  position is currently classified as Program Support Assistant (OA), GS-303-5, in the Eligibility and Enrollment (E&E) Office, Central Business Office (CBA), Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in Erie, Pennsylvania.  The appellant believes her position should be classified as Healthcare Eligibility Specialist, GS-301-09/11.  We received the complete agency administrative report on June 21, 2016, and have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112(b) of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

General issues

The appellant raises concerns about the agency’s classification review process, (e.g., no desk audit performed, human resources “downplaying” duties, and disagreements about performance standards).  By law, we must classify positions solely by comparing their duties and responsibilities to OPM position classification standards (PCS) and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  Therefore, we have considered the appellant’s statements only insofar as they are relevant to making that comparison.  In adjudicating this appeal, our responsibility is to make our own independent decision on the proper classification of her position.  Because our decision sets aside all previous agency decisions, the agency’s classification review process is not germane to this decision.

Introduction

On April 11, 2016, OPM’s Agency Compliance and Evaluation (ACE)-Philadelphia accepted a group position classification appeal from Ms. Tammy Lyons and Ms. Stacy Pancoast.  We subsequently cancelled Ms. Pancoast’s appeal on August 24, 2016, at her request.  The appellant’s  position is currently classified as Program Support Assistant (OA), GS-303-5, in the Eligibility and Enrollment (E&E) Office, Central Business Office (CBA), Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in Erie, Pennsylvania.  The appellant believes her position should be classified as Healthcare Eligibility Specialist, GS-301-09/11.  We received the complete agency administrative report on June 21, 2016, and have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112(b) of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

General issues

The appellant raises concerns about the agency’s classification review process, (e.g., no desk audit performed, human resources “downplaying” duties, and disagreements about performance standards).  By law, we must classify positions solely by comparing their duties and responsibilities to OPM position classification standards (PCS) and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  Therefore, we have considered the appellant’s statements only insofar as they are relevant to making that comparison.  In adjudicating this appeal, our responsibility is to make our own independent decision on the proper classification of her position.  Because our decision sets aside all previous agency decisions, the agency’s classification review process is not germane to this decision.

The appellant compares her duties to select duties of other positions in the VAMC including a Human Resources Specialist, staff at the national Health Eligibility Center (HEC), and State welfare caseworkers.  In doing so, she states these positions do not “require the same skill set” as she must apply in determining eligibility for receiving Federal services, “with or without financial liability.”  The classification of a position is not based on the possession of specific “skill sets” as the appellant appears to believe.  Rather, as stated in 5 U.S.C. 5101(1)(B), grade level distinctions are made “in proportion to substantial differences in the difficulty, responsibility, and qualification requirements of the work performed,” without regard to the subject-matter of the work performed or the Federal program supported.  Further, not all duties in a position are necessarily classifiable at the same grade level.  For example, many technician positions perform clerical functions classifiable at grade levels below the technician work which controls the grade level of the position.  Thus, if other positions perform duties that are similar to some major duties of the appellant’s position, such as case eligibility determinations made by HEC employees, those duties may not be the grade controlling duties of those other positions.  Further, since comparison to the PCSs and guidelines is the exclusive method for classifying positions, we cannot compare the appellant’s duties to those of other positions, which may or may not be classified properly, as the basis for deciding this appeal.

By law, the VA must classify positions consistently with published classification standards and in accordance with the principle of equal pay for substantially equal work.  Under 5 CFR 511.612, agencies must review their own classification decisions for identical, similar, or related positions to ensure consistency with OPM certificates.  The VA has primary responsibility for ensuring classification consistency at its VAMCs.  If the appellant believes her position is classified inconsistently with another, she may pursue this matter by writing to the human resources office of her agency’s headquarters.  She should specify the precise organizational location, series, title, grade, and responsibilities of the positions in question.  The agency should explain to her the differences between her position and the others, or classify those positions in accordance with this appeal decision.

Position information

Veterans and beneficiaries contact the appellant by telephone, email, mail, and visiting the VAMC for a determination on their eligibility for health care services at the Erie VAMC and Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC).  The determination of eligibility is based on a review of the applicant’s completed Application for Healthcare Benefits, VA Form 10-10EZ, and evidence of military service.  The VA Form 10-10EZ includes the applicant’s name, address, marital status, family composition, health insurance, military history, and financial information and evidence of military service, including the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, Form DD-214, military service documentation from a military component, letters from the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) of awards for service-connected disability and pension, and military identification cards.

Regardless of how an applicant contacts the appellant, a VA Form 10-10EZ must be completed, and the appellant assists the applicant with completing the form as needed.  If the applicant did not submit any military service documentation or a DD-214, the appellant accesses the military and service connection verification database, Veterans Information Solution (VIS), which may contain the veteran’s military service record and, at the same time, she searches for military service information through the Department of Defense’s Defense Personnel Records Information Retrieval System (DPRIS).  If the required documentation cannot be found electronically, the appellant requests it from the applicant.  She also searches the HEC Enrollment System (ES) to see if the applicant is registered for treatment at another VAMC.  If an applicant already has an ES record, the appellant evaluates the information to verify the applicant is eligible to receive health care services and, if found eligible, she updates ES so the applicant can obtain treatment at the Erie VAMC. 

When the appellant receives all of the applicant’s documentation, she reviews it to determine if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for health care services.  For example, she looks for the time frame and length of military service; letters awarding service-connected disability; qualifying environmental factors, e.g., exposure to Agent Orange; and special treatment eligibility, e.g., Southwest Asia service or Purple Heart recipient.  She also looks to see if the applicant meets eligibility based on income by conducting means and co-pay testing.  If found eligible, the appellant enters the required information into the Veteran Information System and Technology Architecture (VistA) database, which determines the applicant’s priority group based on the information input by the appellant.  The information in VistA interfaces with the Computer Patient Record System (CPRS) and creates the applicant’s electronic medical record.  The appellant advises the applicant of his or her priority group determination and its corresponding health care services and any copay requirements, including medical care co-pay rates for inpatient and outpatient services, and prescription co-pay rates.  The appellant also processes Veterans Health Identification Cards for eligible applicants.  She can also schedule an initial appointment and register the applicant to receive health care services in HEC’s ES. 

When the appellant determines an applicant does not meet the eligibility criteria, she informs the applicant of her determination and that her supervisor will perform a second-level review.  If the  supervisor agrees with her determination, the appellant explains to the applicant the reasons why he or she was found ineligible and advises that if the applicant’s situation changes, e.g., service connection disability or financial, to notify the E&E Office for an eligibility re-determination.  She documents Vista and ES with the ineligibility date and the reason the applicant is ineligible to receive treatment.  The appellant prepares the standard denial notice which her supervisor signs, scans and places the notice in the applicant’s folder, and mails the notice to the applicant.

An applicant can also submit Form 10-10EZ to the HEC, which supports VA’s health care delivery system by providing centralized eligibility verification and enrollment processing services.  HEC determines veteran’s health eligibility and facilitates the process by providing guidance to the field through training, and collaborates with Chief Business Office Policy and other administrative offices on the implementation of policy.  HEC’s Enrollment Eligibility Division provides assistance to VAMC eligibility and enrollment staff with complex eligibility determinations, and provides support through educational activities, guidance, and correspondence, to include a monthly Eligibility and Patient Benefits Conference Call.  When the HEC receives a Form 10-10EZ from an applicant, the information is entered into ES and is sent through the system to the E&E Office nearest the applicant.  After the appellant receives notification of the application, she determines the applicant’s eligibility as discussed above.  If a registered veteran or beneficiary requests treatment at the Erie VAMC or a CBOC, e.g., on vacation, the appellant gathers his or her identifying information and verifies his or her eligibility through Vista and ES before treatment is provided and updates both systems to show eligibility for treatment.

The appellant states, and the official PD indicates, that she serves as a backup for the person who regularly performs beneficiary travel processing/support and death detail duties.  If the Benefit Travel Coordinator is not available, the Medical Administrative Assistant, i.e., Administrative Officer of the Day (AOD), is responsible for processing travel requests.  It is only in the AOD’s absence that the appellant assists the veteran or beneficiary.  In addition, the appellant’s responsibility for death detail is also limited.  If the AOD is not available, the appellant’s supervisor performs the death detail responsibilities.  The record shows the appellant may assist her supervisor, but she does not perform the full scope of death detail duties.  Only duties occupying at least 25 percent of an employee’s time on a regular and recurring basis can affect the grade of a position (Introduction, section III.J).  As stipulated in the Introduction, duties performed in the absence of another employee may not control the classification of a position.  Regardless, the assigning of more or different work does not necessarily mean that the additional work is more difficult and complex.  Each grade level represents a band of difficulty and responsibility.  Performing more difficult work than previously performed may still continue to fit within and support the grade level already credited to the position.

The appellant’s supervisor certified to the accuracy of the duties described in the appellant’s official PD, number 03041-A.  However, the appellant provided a modified PD, which she indicates properly reflects the duties she performs.  The modified PD includes redundant statements.  For example, one duty in the proposed PD states:  “Incumbent [sic] work requires independent evaluation, identification and application of factors or conditions to be considered, and any interrelations as appropriate to Healthcare benefit eligibilities.  Incumbent is responsible for independent extraction and analysis’s [sic] is of considerable volume of variable applicable information to arrive at an end product.”  Another duty in the modified PD states:  “Incumbent displays considerable extent of independent fact collection, review, and judgment application in accordance with federal guidelines is required in determination of entitlements with or without financial liabilities.”  These proposed duties, although stated differently, describe the applicant eligibility determination process.  We find the duties listed in the modified PD are already included in the appellant’s official PD.

Under the General Schedule position classification system, major duties are those occupying a significant portion of the employee’s time.  They should be only those duties currently assigned, observable, identified with the position’s purpose and organization, and expected to continue or recur on a regular basis over a period of time.  OPM considers a PD to be accurate for classification purposes when the major duties and responsibilities of the position are listed and proper classification can be made when the description is supplemented by otherwise accurate, available, and current information on the organization’s structure, mission, and procedures.

Regardless, classification appeal regulations permit OPM to investigate or audit a position and decide an appeal on the basis of the actual duties and responsibilities currently assigned by management and performed by the employee.  An OPM appeal decision classifies a real operating position and not simply the PD.  This decision is based on the work currently assigned to and performed by the appellant.

To help decide the appeal, we conducted telephone interviews with the appellant on July 20, 2016, and her immediate supervisor on July 25, 2016.  In reaching our decision, we have carefully considered all of the information obtained from the interviews, as well as all other information of record provided by the appellant and her agency.  After a careful review, we find the appellant’s PD meets the standards of PD adequacy for classification purposes as discussed in section III.E of the Introduction and we incorporate it by reference into our decision, as it contains the major duties and responsibilities assigned to and performed by the appellant.

Series, title, and standard determination

The agency has classified the appellant’s position in the Miscellaneous Clerk and Assistant series, GS-303, but the appellant believes it should be classified in the Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series, GS-301.  The GS-301 series covers non-professional two-grade interval administrative positions involved in supervising or performing work for which no other series is appropriate.  The work requires analytical ability, judgment, discretion, and knowledge of a substantial body of administrative or program principles, concepts, policies, and objectives.  The one-grade interval GS-303 series covers positions supervising or performing clerical, assistant, or technician work for which no other series is appropriate.  The work requires knowledge of the procedures and techniques involved in carrying out the work of an organization and involves application of procedures and practices within the framework of established guidelines.

To decide the proper series, we must first determine whether the work performed by the appellant is one-grade interval administrative support or two-grade interval administrative in nature.  Some tasks are common to both types of occupations.   Guidance on distinguishing between one-grade and two-grade interval work is available in The Classifier’s Handbook.

Administrative support work usually involves proficiency in one or more functional areas or in certain limited phases of a specific program.  Employees performing support work follow established methods and procedures.  They have specified boundaries narrowly restricting their work.  They use a limited variety of techniques, standards, or regulations.  Support work involves handling problems that are often recurring and have precedents, limiting the breadth and depth of knowledge required, complexity of problem solving, applicability of guidelines, and closeness of supervisory controls.

In contrast, administrative work primarily requires a high order of analytical ability combined with a comprehensive knowledge of (1) the functions, processes, theories, and principles of management, and (2) the methods used to gather, analyze, and evaluate information.  Administrative work also requires skill in applying problem-solving techniques and skill in communicating both orally and in writing.  Administrative positions do not require specialized education, but they do involve the types of skills (i.e., analysis, research, writing, and judgment) typically gained through college-level education or through progressively responsible experience.

The appellant’s duties cannot be construed as two-grade interval administrative work comparable to the work described above.  Instead consistent with one-grade interval support work, her duties involve carrying out established processes and procedures based on practical knowledge of the requirements associated with discrete functional assignments.  The appellant does this by looking for specific defined information required to make eligibility determinations.  Her work neither requires nor permits the exercise of a high order of analytical ability, comprehensive knowledge of management principles and processes, or skill in problem solving or written communication.  These responsibilities are vested in other offices within the VAMC, e.g., those that define the requirements for the eligibility systems and issue the policies and procedures used by the appellant in making eligibility determinations.  The appellant’s work does not involve analyzing cases to ascertain facts and determine the actions required, conducting research and identifying options, or preparing written products with findings and conclusions.  Instead, her work involves the application of a limited set of methods and procedures that do not vary significantly from assignment to assignment, consistent with one-grade interval support work. 

The appellant’s position is properly assigned to the one-grade interval GS-303 Miscellaneous Clerical and Assistance Series described above.  Correspondingly, her work involves making eligibility determinations for health care services based on applying well-established criteria, requesting missing documentation, and providing information about the health care services available under each priority group.  There are no titles specified for positions in the GS-303 series.  Agencies may construct titles for positions in this series following guidance provided in the Introduction.  Positions classified to the GS-303 series that involve the performance of clerical work are evaluated by use of the Grade Level Guide for Clerical and Assistance Work (Guide).

The parenthetical title Office Automation (OA) used by the agency in its classification of the position is added to the title when the position requires a fully qualified typist to perform word processing duties.  The record shows the appellant inputs data into existing databases, but does not perform duties requiring the skills of a fully qualified typist.  Therefore, the parenthetical (OA) may not be included in the title.

Grade determination

The Guide provides general criteria for use in determining the grade level of nonsupervisory clerical and assistance work.  Administrative support work of the kind described in the Guide is performed in the offices, hospitals, and numerous other settings in Federal agencies.  The Guide describes the general characteristics of each grade level from GS-1 through GS-7, and uses the following two criteria for grading purposes:  Nature of Assignment (which includes knowledge required and complexity of the work) and Level of Responsibility (which includes supervisory controls, guidelines, and contacts).

The Guide provides separate evaluation criteria for clerical and assistance work.  The term “clerical” is defined as performing work such as preparing, receiving, reviewing, and verifying documents; maintaining office records; locating and compiling data or information from files; compiling information for reports; keeping a calendar and informing others of deadlines and other important dates; and similar clerical support work within an organization.  This work requires knowledge of the clerical requirements and processes involved in maintaining the functional programs of the unit.  “Assistance” is defined as performing technical work to support the administration or operation of the programs of an organizational unit.  This work requires working knowledge of the work processes and procedures of an administrative field (e.g., office administration, communications, and security) and the missions and operational requirements of the unit.

For the purpose of applying the Guide, the appellant’s work is clerical in nature involving such work as making eligibility determinations, updating databases, requesting missing documentation from applicants, and registering applicants to receive health care services from a particular VAMC.  Her work does not involve performing the technical work of an administrative field to support the programs of the organization.  Thus, only the grade level criteria for clerical work is addressed below.  

Nature of Assignment

At the GS-5 level, work consists of performing a full range of standard and non-standard clerical assignments and resolving a variety of non-recurring problems.  Work includes a variety of assignments involving different and unrelated steps, processes, or methods.  The employee must identify and understand the issues involved in each assignment and determine what steps and procedures are necessary and the order of their performance.  Completion of each transaction typically involves selecting a course of action from a number of possibilities.  The work requires extensive knowledge of an organization’s rules, procedures, operations, or business practices to perform the more complex, interrelated, or one-of-a-kind clerical processing procedures.

GS-6 level work typically entails processing a wide variety of transactions for more than one type of assigned activity or functional specialization.  Assignments are subject to different sets of rules, regulations, and procedures, knowledge of which is usually attained through extensive, increasingly difficult, and practical experience and training in the subject matter field.  The work also requires ability to interpret and apply regulatory and procedural requirements to process unusually difficult and complicated transactions. 

The appellant’s work assignments are generally consistent with the GS-5 level criteria.  Similar to this level, she performs responsible standard and non-standard assignments, which require applying a broad working knowledge of the rules, procedures, and operations of the eligibility and enrollment process, e.g., reviewing military discharge documents, using databases previously discussed to review military history and/or documentation, inputting data from the Form 10-10EZ, and explaining health care services eligibility information to the applicant.  Like this level, each applicant’s situation is different and the appellant must be able to understand the applicant’s information to select the appropriate guidance to make an eligibility determination.  The appellant must apply knowledge of military service documentation as discussed previously to determine an applicant’s priority group placement, how such placement is affected by special treatment eligibility and environmental factors, and explain the effect on services to applicants.  Applying established criteria, the appellant can explain that applicants requiring care for a service connected disability will automatically be eligible to receive VA health care, applicants rated for service-connected conditions at 50 percent or greater will receive health care, and applicants without a disability rating must meet the criteria for basic eligibility set forth in VHA Handbook 1601A.02.  She also must be knowledgeable of the financial implications of the means and co-pay test so she can provide the correct guidance to applicants who do not have a service connected disability rating but may be entitled to receive health care services based on income, or to applicants who may be required to submit a co-pay for services. 

The appellant’s work assignments do not meet the GS-6 grade level, as they do not require the considerable evaluative judgment required at that level.  The appellant does not process a wide variety of unusually difficult and complicated transactions using different rules, regulations, and procedures.  Although some policies and handbooks do not provide step-by-step instructions, the appellant’s work involves carrying out the same or similar basic steps for each function, comparing information provided by the applicant, e.g., DD-214, VA disability rating, Form 10-10EZ, and information accessible from various databases, against established VA directives and policies.  The narrow range of the appellant’s work does not require or permit her to interpret rules, regulations, and procedures for the purpose of seeking alternative solutions to issues as required at this grade level.  For example, the purpose of VHA Handbook 1601A.02, Eligibility Determinations, is to provide standard information on determining eligibility for health care benefits.  Unlike the GS-6 level where deciding on a course of action has substantive impact on the outcome of the work, the appellant’s assignments consist of applying clearly defined criteria to make eligibility determinations or advise on what documentation must be provided by an applicant to do so.  In contrast to the GS-6 level, precedents and operating procedures are available, and the appellant’s assignments usually involve problems or situations with established precedents or operating procedures where there is only one correct solution.

This factor is properly evaluated at the GS-5 level.

Level of Responsibility

At the GS-5 level, the supervisor assigns work by defining objectives, priorities, and deadlines and provides guidance on assignments that do not have clear precedents.  The employee works in accordance with accepted practices and completed work is evaluated for technical soundness, appropriateness, and effectiveness in meeting goals.  Extensive guides in the form of instructions, manuals, regulations, and precedents apply to the work.  The number and similarity of guidelines and work situations require the employee to use judgment in locating and selecting the most appropriate guidelines for application and adapting them according to circumstances of the specific case or transaction.  A number of procedural problems may arise which also require interpretation and adaptation of established guides.  Contacts are with a variety of persons within and outside the agency for the purpose of receiving or providing information relating to the work or resolving operating problems in connection with recurring responsibilities. 

At the GS-6 level, the supervisor reviews completed work for conformance with policy and requirements.  The employee is recognized as an authority on processing transactions or completing assignments within a complicated framework of established procedures and guidelines, often where there are no clear precedents, usually extending beyond the immediate office to outside the organization.  The employee is regarded as an expert source of information on regulatory requirements for the various transactions and is frequently called upon to provide accurate information on short notice.  The employee must adapt guidelines as needed to cover new and unusual work situations and deviate from established procedures to process transactions, which cannot be completed through regular channels.  Contacts with employees in the agency or with the users of agency services are to provide information, explain the application of regulations, or resolve problems.

At the GS-6 level, work typically entails processing a wide variety of transactions for more than one type of assignment activity or functional specialization.  Assignments are subject to different sets of rules, regulations, and procedures.  Such issues must be examined that a course of action has substantive impact on the outcome of the assignment.  Work requires comprehensive knowledge of rules, regulations, and other guidelines relating to completing assignments in the program area assigned.  This knowledge is usually attained through extensive, increasingly difficult, and practical experience and training in the subject matter field.  The work also requires ability to interpret and apply regulatory and procedural requirements to process unusually difficult and complicated transactions. 

The appellant’s level of responsibility is characteristic of the GS-5 level in that the objectives, priorities, and deadlines of her work are established.  The appellant works in accordance with established procedures for recurring work, such as determining eligibility for health care services and registration using the databases previously discussed.  Like this level, the number and similarity of VA, VHA, and VAMC policies, guidelines, memorandums, and work situations, etc., require the appellant to use judgment in locating and selecting the most appropriate guidelines for application and adapting them according to the specific circumstances of the applicant’s case.  That the HEC does not verify her eligibility determinations for accuracy does not affect the classification of the appellant’s position.  As discussed in the Introduction, Appendix 3, only the effect of properly performed work is considered in the classification of a position.  The appellant also stated her supervisor does not review her eligibility determinations for accuracy and only checks demographic and financial information.  However, our fact-finding revealed her supervisor spot checks eligibility determinations on a weekly basis by reviewing all of the hard copy registrations that have DD-214s attached from the previous week in VistA and confirms the accuracy of the demographic information, eligibility determination, priority group, financial entries, and appointment scheduling.  She also ensures all environmental factors are identified, the period of service entry and separation is correct, and active military service is properly entered.  The supervisor also serves as the second level quality review for all ineligible determinations.  Such review is typical of the GS-5 grade level.  Also typical of the GS-5 grade level, the appellant has direct contact with veterans and beneficiaries, Erie VAMC staff and staff at other VAMC facilities, HEC staff, veteran service organization representatives, VA county service officers, and civilian companies that provide medical care to veterans and beneficiaries to exchange information and resolve case issues.

While the appellant is considered an authority in her activity for eligibility determinations, unlike the GS-6 level her assignments do not routinely require or permit her to deal with complicated transactions that are often without precedent, and HEC personnel are available to provide assistance as needed.  While she communicates with applicants and VAMC personnel, it is to exchange information rather than to provide advice on regulatory requirements as discussed at the GS-6 grade level.  Unlike the GS-6 level, her work is repetitive and issues can be resolved by locating and applying the most appropriate guideline to the circumstances of the specific case.  Her work does not permit her to deviate from established procedures or deal with actions where guidelines are conflicting or unusable.  Problems of this nature would be referred to her supervisor for resolution.

This factor is properly evaluated at the GS-5 level.

Summary

Since both factors are evaluated at the GS-5 level, the position is properly evaluated at the GS-5 level.

Decision

The appellant’s position is properly classified as GS-303-5, with the title at agency discretion.

 

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