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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

Ruby Hannel, Terry Roberts, Deanna Pleasant
Information Technology Specialist
(Network/CustSpt)
GS-2210-11
Information Technology Customer
Service Desk Operations Team
Information Technology Customer
Service Desk Group
Information Technology Field Services
Center
Information Technology Customer
Service Organization
Information Technology Directorate
Defense Contract Management Agency
U. S. Department of Defense
Columbus, Ohio
Computer Assistant
GS-335-9
C-0335-09-07

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

01/14/2014


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 lowers the grade 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 applicable provisions of parts 351, 432, 536, and 752 of title 5, CFR, must be followed in implementing this decision.  If the appellants are entitled to grade retention, the two-year retention period begins on the date this decision is implemented.  The servicing human resources office must submit a compliance report containing the corrected position description and a Standard Form 50 showing the personnel action taken for each appellant.  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 January 30, 2013, OPM’s Chicago Oversight, now Agency Compliance and Evaluation (ACE) Chicago, accepted a classification appeal from Messrs. Robert Logan, and Terry Roberts and Mses. Ruby Hannel, Peggy Payne, Deanna Pleasant, and Dorrine Reed.  On June 20, 2013, it was transferred to ACE Philadelphia for adjudication.  We subsequently cancelled Ms. Reed’s appeal on September 5, 2013, because she no longer wanted to appeal the classification of her position.  We also cancelled Mr. Logan’s appeal because he was promoted September 8, 2013, and under controlling law and regulation, he no longer has standing to continue this appeal since he no longer occupies the position in question.  The appellants occupy identical additional positions hereinafter referred to as position, currently classified as Information Technology (IT) Specialist (Network/CustSpt) GS-2210-11, in the Information Technology Directorate, Information Technology Customer Service Organization (ITCSO), Information Technology Field Services Center, Information Technology Customer Service Desk Group, Information Technology Customer Service Desk Operations Team, Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), Department of Defense (DoD) located at the Defense Construction Supply Center in Columbus, OH.  While we initially accepted the appeal as a group appeal because the appellants were all assigned to the same position description (PD), we subsequently learned some of them perform different duties.  Therefore, we are issuing separate decisions to account for these differences.  This decision addresses the appeal for Ruby Hannel, Deanna Pleasant, and Terry Roberts.  The appellants believe their position should be upgraded to the GS-12 grade level.  We received the complete agency administrative report (AAR) on March 15, 2013, and have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112 of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

The appellants selected Mr. Robert Logan as their appellant representative.  As he no longer occupies the position in question as of September 8, 2013, the appellants selected Mr. Terry Roberts to represent them as of that date in this appeal.

General issues

As a result of a position classification review, in an undated memorandum, DCMA-level IT reclassified and downgraded the appellants’ position from IT Specialist (SysAnalysis/CustSpt) GS-2210-12 to IT Specialist (Network/CustSpt) GS-2210-11 due to an erosion of duties.  The appellants’ classification appeal request compares their past duties to their current duties.  By law, we must make our decision solely by comparing the appellants’ current duties and responsibilities to OPM position classification standards (PCS) and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  In adjudicating this appeal, our responsibility is to make our own independent decision on the proper classification of their position. 

The appellants did not certify nor are they willing to sign a statement indicating the accuracy of the duties and responsibilities outlined in position description (PD) number H8372963 in their classification appeal to DoD.  The appellants believe that their signatures could be used against them; i.e., used to their disadvantage, by the agency in any decision DoD rendered.  However, the supervisor certified the PD was accurate and reflects the appellants’ current duties and responsibilities.  DoD declined to accept their appeal due to their refusal to certify PD accuracy and so they appealed to OPM.

A PD is the official record of the major duties and responsibilities assigned to a position or job by an official with the authority to assign work.  A position consists of the duties and responsibilities that make up the work performed by the employee.  Classification appeal regulations permit OPM to investigate or audit a position and decide an appeal based on 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 appellants.

The representative’s appeal rationale states:

Major modifications and updates of designs, along with integrating those new designs into existing ones, comprise a significant portion of the job.  In addition to changing and troubleshooting existing designs, the work involves development of new programs, databases and designs that are sometimes significant departures from established practices.

As discussed in the Position information section of this decision, the appellants do not perform these functions.  Thus, we will not address further the representative’s grade level analysis of these or the other duties in his appeal rationale that concern duties and responsibilities neither assigned to nor performed by the appellants.    

Position information

The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) is the Department of Defense (DoD) component that works directly with Defense suppliers to help ensure that DoD, Federal, and allied government supplies and services are delivered on time, at projected cost, and meet all performance requirements.

The appellants serve as team members of the IT Service Center in support of DCMA field services.  The appellants perform a variety of duties to support approximately 19,000 customers in the daily use of information systems by resolving problems encountered in the use of computer hardware and software including Commercial and Government-off- the-shelf (COTS and GOTS).  They support a wide variety of customers including DCMA employees, military service members, and contractors.

They are responsible for providing first-level support to customers in multiple areas of IT, to include personal computers (PC), Blackberries, virtual private network, office automation software, general office automation equipment, email, telecommunications, and specialized applications.  The appellants install software, help maintain network operations, and ensure that inquires and problems concerning networks, computers, peripherals, and services are resolved.  The record shows the appellants provide user support to those DCMA employees provided government-issued Blackberries.  They perform Blackberry administration by creating and deleting accounts on the Blackberry enterprise server as well as activating accounts and resetting passwords. 

The appellants work on assigned shifts with responsibility for responding to customer requests.  These requests can be made through telephone, email, or self-service web requests and the majority of them are of a routine nature, i.e. password resets and account lockouts.  The appellants operate an automated trouble ticket system which collects information from customers. They document the diagnosis and resolution of customer assistance requests into the ticketing system. 

All DCMA computers, including desktops and laptops, have the same baseline image or common operating environment.  However, each organization may have unique applications about which the appellants must be aware in order to assist the users during first call resolution.  The appellants ask users to describe the problem and determine its nature based on the user’s description of the problem.  At this point, the appellants determine if the issue can be resolved by them or if it needs elevation to the appropriate work area within ITCSO.  The appellants use enterprise management tools such as remote control, software distribution, and access management to assist users.  They apply IT solutions compliant with DCMA and DoD's IT security management and procedures, e.g., the appellants may grant access to different computer programs, shared drives, and/or shared mailboxes based on the user's permission level.

They escalate tickets with complex and difficult user problems to higher-level support organizations for resolution.  For example, if multiple users report Microsoft Outlook connection problems, the appellants contact DCMA's network operations center to report there are potential issues with the Outlook exchange servers.  For problems requiring hands on resolution, they route and elevate the ticket to a member of the tier-two staff who are local IT Staff and Local Area Network (LAN) administrators.  For example, in the case of a hard drive failure, the appellants would escalate and create a ticket for the local IT staff to diagnose and prepare a warranty request from the vendor.  The tier-two staff would close out the ticket once all issues have been resolved.

The appellants troubleshoot new software and hardware releases approved by higher-level IT officials and recommend modifications, as required, to maintain system compatibility.  Due to the nature of the ITSCO and the appellants taking incoming calls from users, the appellants are the first to be aware of any “glitches” with any new software releases and may need to provide resolutions to users in order to minimize downtime.  For example, when new software is released, the appellants may need to test various configurations to find out system compatibility within the common operating environment in order to troubleshoot future incidents.  

DCMA allows internal users to gain remote access to its network and applications through a Common Access Card (CAC).  The appellants troubleshoot user connectivity issues for remote access that may be due to CAC card certificate errors or the compatibility of the user’s personally owned computer.  For example, if the appellants can connect using a remote terminal server at their location but the remote user is unable to connect, the appellants will attempt to resolve possible conflicts on the user’s computer.  Also, DCMA permits external users, outside contractors and non-DCMA federal employees, to gain remote access to its eTOOLS applications through a web based portal.  Appellants also provide troubleshooting for external users to the eTOOLS portal.   

They use an online knowledge base containing relevant articles to assist the appellants in applying the correct solution to user problems.  The appellants also engage in chats through an instant messaging client to pose and respond to questions to and from teammates on situations that have not been encountered before and to provide solutions.  They also use email to document and distribute to teammates new situations with solutions until an article can be added to the knowledge base. 

The appellants perform limited tier- three work by serving as administrators to various applications to perform account management duties and as senior-level users they assist other help desk technicians with some of the following DCMA applications:  Reveal, Shared Data Warehouse, Internal Web Access Management, Electronic Document Access, and Mechanization of Contract Administration Services.  The appellants create, edit, and delete accounts in the various applications based on a user or management initiated request. These requests cannot be resolved when initially received, but are routed to the tier-three queue in order for the appellants to resolve them after their assigned hours working the help desk.  The appellants build accounts for new employees to provide access to the applications that are required for the particular position or they modify application access based on the permissions the supervisor or security officer determines are required.  In the case of an external user, the appellants work with the appropriate point of contact, e.g. Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative to approve the request for access and then the appellants will create or modify the user accounts. 

To help decide this appeal, we conducted telephone interviews with the original appellant representative on July 16, 2013 and July 24, 2013 and Ms. Hannel on July 25, 2013 and Mr. Roberts on August 9, 2013.  Ms. Pleasant chose not to speak with us.  We also spoke with their former, immediate, and second level supervisors on September 3, 2013.  In reaching our classification decision, we have carefully considered all of the information obtained from the interviews, as well as all other information of record provided by the appellants and their agency.  After a careful review, we find the appellants' PD meets the standards of PD accuracy 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 appellants.

Series, title, and standard determination

The Job Family Standard (JFS) for Administrative Work in the Information Technology Group, 2200 covers two-grade interval administrative positions which manage, supervise, lead, administer, develop, deliver, and support information technology systems and services.  This series covers only those positions which the paramount requirement is knowledge of IT principles, concepts, and methods; e.g., data storage, software applications, networking.  This knowledge is used to perform such functions as planning, designing, analyzing, developing and implementing systems for the organization.  Information technology refers to systems and services used in the automated acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, assurance, or reception of information.  Information technology includes computers, network components, peripheral equipment, software, firmware, services, and related resources. 

The 2200 JFS excludes work which involves IT support or services functions.  Such work requires a practical knowledge of IT systems, workflow, and controls rather than the broad and in depth knowledge of IT principles, concepts, and methods characteristic of positions covered by the 2200 JFS.  The JFS discusses distinguishing between specialist work and assistant work and provides examples of positions whose functions should be excluded from the GS-2210 series because they do not require the regular and recurring application of knowledge of IT principles, concepts, and measures.  Those functions described include monitoring the operations of small networked systems, adding network users, updating passwords, installing or assisting users in installing COTS software programs, configuring hardware and software according to instructions, running scheduled backups, troubleshooting minor problems, and responding to less complex user questions. 

The Computer Clerk and Assistance Series, GS-335 PCS covers positions involving performance or supervision of data processing support and services functions for users of digital computer systems.  This work requires knowledge of external data processing sequences, controls, procedures, or user and programming languages, rather than in-depth knowledge of computer requirements or techniques associated with development and design of data processing systems. 

The 335 PCS states that employees in this occupation support or assist other employees who design, operate, or use automatic data processing systems applications and products by performing work in one or a mix of functional areas.  One of the functional areas identified by the PCS is providing direct support to computer specialists.  In this capacity, some computer assistants at full performance levels perform duties similar to those assigned to entry and trainee level computer specialist positions.  Such support work typically requires knowledge of the scope, contents, and purposes of program documentation.  The duties may also require a working knowledge of programming languages.  Some work may require knowledge of system hardware such as the number and kind of devices, operating speeds, amount of core and other equipment characteristics.  This knowledge may also be supplemented by knowledge of internal software routines. 

We find the appellants’ work is covered by the previously discussed exclusion from the GS-2210 series and is properly assigned to the GS-335 series.  While the DCMA network is large and the work does involve administering the operation of computer system(s), the duties do not require the in-depth knowledge of IT principles, concepts, and methods sufficient to plan, analyze, design, develop, test, configure, implement, and maintain the network systems as addressed in the 2210 JFS.  DCMA uses a three tier level technical support model to organize its technical support groups.  This model allows DCMA to efficiently serve its users and for the IT Directorate to manage work tasks.  However, placement of a task in a tier has no direct correlation to the grade level worth of that task.  The appellants perform limited tier-three work, e.g., user account maintenance. We find, however, that this work does not require the regular and recurring application of knowledge of IT principles, concepts, and methods which is fundamental to the GS-2210 occupation. 

The appellants work within the parameters of the common operating environment (COE) and their position is limited in scope by the fact that higher echelons within DCMA and DoD have responsibility for establishing service-wide systems, hardware and software requirements, and making decisions on the need for system upgrades and/or software migrations.  The work performed by the appellants is characteristic of that described in the GS-335 Computer Clerk and Assistant Series and is properly classified using that PCS.  The appropriate title for non-supervisory positions at grade GS-5 and above is Computer Assistant.

Grade determination

The 335 PCS uses the Factor Evaluation System (FES) under which factor levels and accompanying point values are assigned for each of the nine factors, with the total then being converted to a grade level by use of the grade-conversion table provided in the PCS.  Under the FES, each factor-level description in a PCS describes the minimum characteristics needed to receive credit for the described level.  Therefore, if a position fails to meet the criteria in a factor-level description in any significant aspect, it must be credited at a lower level unless the deficiency is balanced by an equally important aspect that meets a higher level.  Conversely, the position may exceed those criteria in some aspects and still not be credited at a higher level.  Our evaluation with respect to the nine FES factors follows. 

Factor 1, Knowledge required by the position

This factor measures the nature and extent of information or facts a worker must understand in order to do acceptable work and the nature and extent of the skills needed to apply that knowledge.

At Level 1-6, the highest level described in the PCS, in addition to the knowledge described at Level 1-5, employees use extensive knowledge of at least one multi, and typically several single, processor computer systems.  They monitor processing work flow and diagnose and resolve error and problem conditions involving many program interrelationships and interlocking computer systems.  This work requires extensive knowledge of computer equipment, internal computer processes, applications and utility programs, and magnetic media.  It also requires knowledge of a wide range of analytical and diagnostic methods, procedures, and principles.  Additionally, knowledge is required of some elements of programming, systems analysis, and equipment operations.  This knowledge is used to identify the nature and source of problems occurring during processing and to plan and implement solutions.  Employees at this level commonly use this knowledge to advise specialists in setting up run instructions and developing effective operating methods.  Work at this level commonly involves taking action to order and interpret system dumps, order and implement back-up recovery procedures to replace faulty tapes or disks, reallocating equipment usage to work around equipment malfunctions, etc. 

Level 1-6 is met but not exceeded.  Like this level, the appellants’ work requires knowledge of a wide range of computer techniques, requirements, sources, and procedures, which includes an extensive knowledge of the current system software, operating systems and application software packages supported by the COE.  Their work also requires extensive knowledge of and troubleshooting skills necessary to monitor, operate, and maintain the organization's information systems equipment.  The equipment supported includes desktop and laptop workstation PCs, Blackberry, and system file servers.  The appellants possess knowledge and skills related to telecommunications, LAN and Wide Area Network connections, ports and switches in order to maintain and troubleshoot systems interfacing and communicating with remotely located systems.  As at Level 1-6, they use this knowledge to identify the source of operational failures in the system and to take actions to resolve problems and restore operations and use knowledge of the equipment and system requirements to coordinate the installation of new systems or the upgrading of system components or infrastructure. 

Level 1-6 is credited for 950 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. 

At Level 2-3, the highest level described in the PCS, the supervisor provides directions on objectives and priorities for new work, deadlines, and deadline changes for new and established work.  The employee identifies the work to be done, plans and carries out the steps required, and submits completed work to users (programmers, operators, functional users) without supervisory review.  The employee independently deviates from instructions to provide for situations such as lower and higher priorities and other changes based on past experience and flexibility within processing specifications.  The employee commonly adapts or develops new work procedures and instructions for application by self and others.  The employee will seek supervisory assistance and discuss problems related to the work such as when processing requests appear to exceed system capacity or could have adverse effect on other processing requirements.  Completed work is reviewed for conformity to deadlines and accepted practices.  Work methods are not normally reviewed unless a recurring common pattern of problems develops.

Level 2-3 is met but not exceeded.  As at Level 2-3, the appellants, based on their expertise in their line of work, have significant latitude to independently plan and carry out their assignments without supervisory review.  However, the supervisor monitors the work to ensure conformity to deadlines and ensures customers are satisfied.  The appellants deviate in the work assignments in accordance with instructions, policies, previous training, or accepted practices in the occupation.  When the appellants gain remote access to a user’s machine they may find the user did not accurately describe their problem, requiring the appellants to locate the actual cause of the failure and implement the correct solution.  Depending on the nature of the problem, the appellants have the ability to implement a fix that remove the problem that is causing the error, but it must be within prescribed IT security policies.  DCMA IT Security runs thorough scans of the network to ensure the network is running within established policy.  Any modification the appellants may make must meet the parameters of the IT Security policy and would be removed if not appropriate.  Similar to this level, the appellants may seek technical advice from higher echelon staff on difficult or unusual problems and their supervisor provides directions on objectives and priorities for new work, deadlines, and deadline changes for new and established work. 

Level 2-3 is credited for 275 points

Factor 3, Guidelines

This factor covers the nature of guidelines and the judgment needed to apply them.  Guides used in GS occupations include, for example, desk manuals, established procedures, policies, and traditional practices, and general reference materials such as dictionaries, style manuals, engineering handbooks, and the pharmacopeia.

At Level 3-3, the highest level described in the PCS, the employee works with new requirements or new applications for which only general guidelines are available.  The employee uses judgment in adjusting the most appropriate guidelines to fit new processing requirements or develops new methods for accomplishing the work.  Guidelines may require modification to provide for adding new forms of input, allowing for flexible scheduling, adjusting to new or conflicting requirements, or to adapt to new hardware/software capacity.

Level 3-3 is met but not exceeded.  Like this level, the appellants have numerous guides available including agency standards and policies that detail DCMA’s standard IT architecture, operating manuals for operating systems and software applications, and internet technical support services.  In addition, technical specialists such as those responsible for agency developed software are available to assist when problems encountered by the appellants involve unusually complex features or when guidelines have significant gaps.  Because the appellants’ guidelines do not always provide direct guidance in resolving a specific user or system problem, they must use seasoned judgment to interpret, select, and adjust program criteria to meet the specifics of the situation.  For example, when new software is released and an error is discovered, the appellants must implement solutions for which there may not yet be guidelines in addition to consulting with the agency or local-level software point of contact.  Also, as technology is ever evolving, previously approved solutions to problems may no longer apply therefore the appellants are required to interpret past guidance to determine whether it remains applicable. 

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.

At Level 4-3 of the PCS, the employee performs a variety of tasks involving discrete methods and procedures or a variety of related tasks requiring a sequence of actions involving differing methods and procedures.  Decisions on what is to be done results from study of each assignment or problem situation.  Actions to be taken differ according to the equipment or program system appropriate to satisfy the request.  For example, work directly supporting specialists includes participation in all phases of a project from problem definition through implementation of a program. 

Level 4-4 is distinguished from 4-3 by the variety and complexity of operating systems monitored, nature and variety of problems encountered and resolved, and the nature of independent decisions made by the employee.  At this level, the employee typically monitors the operations of several major computer systems.  Programs run on these systems are a mix of independent and interdependent applications.  Specifically, employees at this level perform problem solving duties involving a wide range of problem or error conditions in equipment, program data and processing methods and procedures.  This diagnosis and resolution of error and problem conditions involves equipment configurations having different operating characteristics, a wide variety of data and programs and many different processes and methods to arrive at solutions or develop new procedures.  Also at this level, the employee makes decisions and devises solutions based on program, equipment and systems knowledge.  This involves interpreting considerable data to identify the problems, planning and implementing solutions, and refining or designing operating methods or techniques. 

Level 4-3 is met.  As at Level 4-3, the appellants perform a variety of tasks involving varying methods and procedures.  The appellants provide technical support to DCMA computer users, while minimizing downtime.  They resolve operating problems involving network hardware and software issues, limited hardware support, and install software and parameters according to systems specifications.  The DCMA computers are Windows based and primarily use the Microsoft Office package and a variety of COTS, GOTS, and agency-developed programs.  Actions to be taken differ according to the equipment, program or system affected.  However, if confronted with incomplete or conflicting data, the appellants will notify and refer questions/problems to the local LAN administrator or higher echelons within the DCMA ITCSO. 

The record shows the appellants are scheduled to operate the customer service desk for 5 hours of the day but the appellants decide what needs to be done for each call.  The supervisor(s) stated 80 percent of the calls are of a routine nature, e.g., password resets for various applications, and account lockouts.  The supervisor(s) also stated the call center tracks the average time of telephone calls.  Routine requests take approximately 7-10 minutes to complete, depending on the password being reset and non-routine requests, e.g., new CAC and the need to publish certificates, assisting teleworkers, or application specific access (e.g. eTOOLS), take approximately 15-30 minutes to complete.  The appellants stated that the most complex task they have is re-adding a computer to the domain with remote tools.  This is a multi-step process with intricate steps and may take more than 30 minutes to complete if all steps are not followed in the proper sequence.  The appellants spend the remainder of the day working on their assigned tier three tickets to grant approved access to employees, contractors, and external customers to the various applications.

Level 4-4 is not met.  Unlike at Level 4-4, where substantial analysis is used to resolve issues and recommend solutions to meet system network requirements supporting multiple organizational levels, the appellants focus on monitoring and improving the component pieces of a network system.  They are not hampered by conflicting or insufficient data.  In most instances information is available through running diagnostic tests or by researching commercially available product guides.  When unusually complex situations are encountered, the appellants have several sources of technical assistance including their Team Lead, supervisor, as well as specialists with primary responsibility for agency-developed software.  The appellants’ duties do not rise to the level of resolving problems or making recommendations that would fundamentally change major system configurations.  Rather, they make modifications to the system within its current design.  Further, the duties do not involve the wide variety of data and programs or the independent decisions including development of new procedures or designing operating methods or techniques as typical of the Level 4-4.  These responsibilities are typically delegated to the IT staff responsible for the entire DCMA network. 

Level 4-3 is credited for 150 points.

Factor 5, Scope and effect

This factor covers the relationship between the nature of the work and the effect of the work products or services both within and outside the organization. 

Level 5-3, the highest level described in the PCS, is distinguished from Level 5-2 by the addition of requirements for solving problems and answering technical questions about control, scheduling, and/or direct support functions.  The problems encountered are conventional to data processing although solutions are not always covered by established or standardized procedures.  Results of the work affect the efficiency of processing services and adequacy of products used in subsequent activities and processing procedures and methods. 

Level 5-3 is met but not exceeded.  The appellants are responsible for supporting DCMA’s networked computers, printers, and servers that interface with the DCMA LAN.  As at Level 5-3, the appellants assist DCMA system users in the event of a system problem.  The appellants provide advice and assistance to users on operating problems and ensure systems access and connectivity.  However, higher echelons within the agency have responsibility for establishing service-wide systems, hardware and software requirements, and making decisions on the need for systems upgrades and/or software migrations.  Like Level 5-3, the appellants work typically affects the efficiency of IT services for DCMA employees, associated contractors, and external users.

Level 5-3 is credited for 150 points.

Factor 6, Personal contacts

This factor includes face-to-face contacts with people 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 contacts take place.

At Level 6-2, the highest level described in the PCS, contacts are with specialists and other recipients of services who are employees of the same agency, but outside the data processing organization; or, contact with employees of other agencies or non-governmental organizations who contract with DCMA; or, contacts with contractors’ representatives such as vendor repair technicians or customer engineers.  The contacts are structured and routine and the role of each participant is readily determined.

Level 6-2 is met but not exceeded.  The appellants’ primary contacts are comparable to those discussed at Level 6-2.  They support a wide variety of customers including DCMA employees, military service members, and contractors. The appellants may contact technical specialists such as those responsible for agency-developed software when they encounter problems involving unusually complex features or when guidelines have significant gaps.   

Level 6-2 is credited for 25 points.

Factor 7, Purpose of personal contacts

The purpose of personal contacts ranges from factual exchanges of information to situations involving significant or controversial issues and differing viewpoints, goals, or objectives.  The purpose of the contacts should relate directly to the level of contacts selected under Factor 6.

At Level 7-2, the highest level described in the PCS, the purpose of contacts is to plan or coordinate changes in scheduling requirements or priorities due to data or equipment related problems; to participate with users in planning and coordinating new or modified requirements when the work fits generally within system options, schedules, etc., or to plan user participation, methodology, and deadlines for new projects.

Level 7-2 is met but not exceeded.  Similar to Level 7-2, the purpose of the appellants’ contacts is to exchange and provide factual information, coordinate work, explain options, clarify instructions, resolve hardware and software problems, and provide technical advice, guidance, and training to new and existing users on a range of hardware- and software-related issues.

Level 7-2 is credited for 50 points.

Factor 8, Physical demands

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

Like Level 8-1, the appellants work is generally sedentary although there may be some walking or standing for short periods of time and carrying light loads that require only moderate physical ability and physical stress.  Their work does not regularly require the physical exertion described at Level 8-2 for prolonged standing, stooping, or crouching or for carrying supplies and equipment that may weigh as much as 45 pounds.

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.

Like Level 9-1, the appellants work environment is comparable to that found in a typical office setting.  They perform work in an office with adequate light, heat, and ventilation.  In contrast to Level 9-2, the appellants work environment does not involve the level of risk or require special safety precautions, special clothing, or protective equipment as expected at this level.

Level 9-1 is credited for 5 points.

Summary

 

Factor Level Points
1.  Knowledge required by the position 1-6 950
2.  Supervisory controls 2-3 275
3.  Guidelines 3-3 275
4.  Complexity 4-3 150
5.  Scope and effect 5-3 150
6.  Personal contacts 6-2 25
7.  Purpose of personal contacts 7-2 50
8.  Physical demands 8-1 5
9.  Physical environment 9-1 5
Total 1885

 

 A total of 1,885 points falls within the GS-9 range (1,855 to 2,100) on the grade conversion table in the standard.

Decision

The position is properly classified as Computer Assistant, GS-335-9.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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