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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

Randall Brown and David Frederick
Telecommunications Technician
Public Address and Cellular Section
Wireless Unit
G-6, Telecommunications Support Division
Marine Crops Installation East
Marine Corps Base
U.S. Marine Corps
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Title at agency discretion

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



As provided in section 511.612 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, 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).

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, Code of Federal Regulations, must be followed in implementing the decision.  If the appellant is 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.  The report must be submitted within 30 days from the effective date of the personnel action to the OPM Agency Compliance and Evaluation (ACE) Atlanta Office.


On June 30, 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Agency Compliance and Evaluation (ACE) Atlanta accepted a classification appeal from Messrs. Randall Brown and David Frederick.  On August 5, 2015, we received a complete agency administrative report (AAR).  The appellants occupy identical additional positions, hereinafter referred to as position,  currently classified as Telecommunications Technician, GS-0392-7, in the Public Address (PA) and Cellular Section, Wireless Unit, G6, Telecommunications Support Division (TSD), Marine Corps Installations East (MCIE), Marine Corps Base (MCB) in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  The appellants believe their position should be classified as Telecommunications Specialist, GS-391-9.  We have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112 of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

Background information

The appellants’ position was previously classified as Telecommunications Specialist, GS-391-7.  In February 2015, they received the results of the classification review they requested seeking a higher grade from their servicing human resources (HR) office, which resulted in a change in classification to Telecommunications Technician, GS-392-7.  They subsequently filed this appeal with OPM.

General Issues

The appellants make various statements about their agency's evaluation of their position and compare their position to higher-graded Telecommunications Specialist, GS-391, positions in their organization.  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 the position.  Because our decision sets aside any previous agency decisions, the appellants’ statements regarding the classification practices used by their agency to classify their position are not germane to the classification appeal process. 

Like OPM, the appellants' agency must classify positions based on comparison to OPM standards and guidelines.  However, the agency also has primary responsibility for ensuring that its positions are classified consistently with OPM appeal decisions.  If the appellants consider their position so similar to others that they all warrant the same classification, they may pursue the matter by writing to their agency's HR headquarters.  In doing so, they should specify the precise organizational location, classification, duties, and responsibilities of the positions in question.  If the positions are found to be the same as theirs, the agency must correct their classification to be consistent with this appeal decision.  Otherwise, the agency should explain to them the differences between their position and the others. 

The appellants indicate that as a result of the implementation of the Remedy Ticket System, there was an increase in the number of accounts managed (i.e., from one to three major accounts), resulting in an increase from 235 to 904 wireless devices requiring support.  However, volume of work cannot be considered in determining the grade of a position (The Classifier's Handbook, Chapter 5). 

 A position is 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 a position description (PD).  This decision is based on the work currently assigned and performed by the appellants.

The appellants and their supervisor certified to the accuracy of the appellants’ PD of record, number 0578A.  However, our review disclosed the appellants’ PD is not accurate in that it overstates the level of expertise required and exercised by them, as will be discussed later in this decision.  Therefore, the appellants' PD of record does not meet the standard of adequacy as addressed on pages 10-11 of the Introduction, and the agency must revise the PD to reflect our findings.

Position Information

The mission of the MCIE-MCB Camp Lejeune G6 is to provide the means for effective command and control of both unclassified and classified garrison networks operating on the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN).  G6 TSD provides access to a full range of telecommunication services for the USMC, tenant commands, and Joint mission requirements.  Services include official and unofficial telephone services; Blackberry, air card, and cellular telephone support; PA system support for special events and ceremonies; Regional Enterprise Land Mobile Radio Support with emphasis on first responders; and support to other paths of voice and data communications.  G6 TSD is composed of five units, the Outside Plant, Draftsman, Inside Plant, HQ Supply and Administration, and Wireless units.  The Wireless unit is comprised of three sections:  Land Mobile Radio, Spectrum, and PA and Cellular.  The appellants’ position is located in the PA and Cellular section.  They work under the general supervision of the Supervisory Telecommunications Specialist, GS-0391-13 (i.e., MCIE Wireless Networked Systems Manager), who is responsible for overall management of the Wireless unit. 

As part of the Wireless Unit, the appellants are responsible for storing, transporting, setting up, operating, troubleshooting, maintaining, and keeping inventory of PA systems and components.  A PA system is an electronic sound amplification and distribution system with a microphone, amplifier and loudspeakers, used to allow a person to address a large public during events and ceremonies.  In the appellants’ case, this includes manned PA systems (operated by the appellants) and temporary loan systems (portable systems checked out by users).  The appellants use a van to transport the PA systems and other equipment to the designated event location.  The van also contains backup power sources and other supplies (e.g., electrical hookups, generator, and waterproof cables).  Maintenance of PA systems includes removing, disassembling, and performing routine testing of PA systems, subsystems, components, and assemblies.  The appellants track the operational status of PA equipment, review user requests for PA support, and develop PA support solutions that best meet user requirements to support events or ceremonies needing sound and/or video output.  They make minor repairs such as replacing parts (i.e., fuses, knobs) on PA equipment.  Major repairs are sent to the maintenance repair center and if unable to be fixed, the appellants will request that a replacement be purchased. 

The appellants are also responsible for issuing, setting-up, troubleshooting, and maintaining wireless devices and accessories.  They configure BES e-mailboxes and set up wireless air cards.  Work orders are routed through the Remedy Ticket System by the G6 Help Desk, which is the initial point of contact for cellular and wireless device problem reporting and PA system service requests.  The Help Desk then forwards a remedy ticket to the appellants for completion.  Additionally, the appellants receive troubleshooting requests directly from employees and “very important people” (VIPs) through emails, phone calls, or walk-ins and for which they open a ticket as necessary.  Typically, they call or email the customer and provide brief instructions on how to operate the device and what features the device has to offer.  Generally, they complete and close the remedy work order within 72 hours of pulling the remedy ticket or within 24 hours for requests received from VIP customers.

The appellants maintain accountability of cellular and wireless devices by keeping custody records of assigned devices and master inventory lists of all wireless devices and accessories.  They coordinate with the cellular and wireless provider ( i.e., Verizon) to resolve service disruption issues in order to either activate and/or restore services on the requested device (e.g., cell phone, blackberry, wireless modems).  The appellants create and delete accounts, activate and reset passwords, and set up voice mail boxes for BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) accounts that have not yet migrated to the current 4G network from the former 3G network.  The appellants also coordinate with the service provider for hardware issues and device replacement requests.  Problems which do not entail account support (through Verizon) are referred to the appropriate departments.  For example, VPN approvals are referred to networking, security related issues to cyber support, and software application and programming issues to desktop support.  

The appellants also draft and submit purchase requests for additional PA and audio/visual assets to the Deputy Director for approval.  Upon request, they pull reports relating to the Verizon accounts, for instance, user reports and amount of data used by users.

In reaching our classification decision, we have carefully reviewed all of the information provided by the appellants and their agency including their official PD, which we have incorporated by reference into this decision.  Also, to help decide the appeal, we conducted separate telephone interviews with the appellants and their supervisor including follow-up requests for additional information.   

Series, title, and standard determination

The agency has classified the appellants’ position in the General Telecommunications Series, GS-392, but the appellants believe it should be classified in the Telecommunications Series, GS-391. 

The GS-392 series includes one-grade interval positions that involve performing or supervising miscellaneous telecommunication duties not provided for in other series.  Positions in this series do not typically involve substantial operation of telecommunications equipment to send and receive messages, but do require knowledge of telecommunications techniques to facilitate the flow of messages.

The GS-391 series includes positions that involve (1) technical and analytical work pertaining to the planning, development, acquisition, testing, integration, installation, utilization, or modification of telecommunications systems, facilities, services, and procedures; (2) managerial and staff work in the planning, implementation, or program management of telecommunications programs, systems, and services; or (3) line supervision over communications operations, when such work includes responsibility for management functions such as planning, recommending changes, and determining organizational structure, staffing, training, and budgetary requirements.  This work is concerned with the movement of information between locations and thus requires an understanding of basic electronics theory and operating principles, application of existing technology to communication requirements, and equipment interoperability and compatibility.  To perform this work, employees must possess the ability to understand, evaluate, and translate the needs of communications users into requirements; relate user requirements to existing technology, policies and priorities, systems capabilities, available technology and services, operating practices and procedures, terms/conditions of systems and service contracts, equipment and staffing requirements, costs and funding, and other supporting services required; and identify and direct, or coordinate the actions required to provide needed services.

Classification guidance in the Introduction and The Classifier's Handbook describes distinctions between positions properly classified in two-grade interval administrative series and positions classified in one-grade interval support series.  Administrative positions (two-grade interval) are involved in work primarily requiring a high order of analytical ability.  This ability is 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 positions are involved with analyzing, evaluating, modifying, and developing the basic programs, policies, and procedures that facilitate the work of Federal agencies and programs.  In contrast, support positions (one-grade interval) perform work that follows established methods, procedures, and guidelines and may require a high degree of technical skill, care, and precision.  The work can be performed based on a practical knowledge of the purpose, operation, procedures, techniques, and guidelines of the specific program area or functional assignments.  Support personnel typically learn to do the work on-the-job and also may attend specific training courses related to their work. 

We find the appellants’ position does not involve two-grade interval administrative work and thus does not meet the series definition and nature of work for positions classified in the Telecommunications Series, GS-391.  The purpose of the appellants’ position is to keep inventory, set up, activate, and maintain telecommunications equipment, devices, and related items (i.e., PA systems, Blackberries, cellular telephones, wireless air cards, and modems) for supported customers.  They are not required to have an in-depth knowledge of telecommunications technology in order to independently plan, develop, select, and install telecommunications systems.  Rather, they apply knowledge of the operating characteristics of certain items of equipment sufficient to perform minor maintenance and ensure compatibility among components.  This falls short of the broad technical knowledge required by the GS-391 series.  Also, GS-391 specialists use this knowledge as a springboard to prepare recommendations and decisions concerning the quality, acceptance, and improvement of telecommunications systems.  In contrast, the appellants’ work is reactive by design and limited to resolving specific telecommunications problems.  Their work is driven primarily by pre-approved work order requests, performance checks, and help desk calls with the end product taking shape immediately and concretely; i.e., when the problem is resolved or the work order is completed.  They are not responsible for developing short- and long-term telecommunications plans, policies, and procedures and their work is covered extensively by well-documented and defined guidelines.

Consequently, the GS-392 series best represents the position’s purpose of carrying out the overall work of the unit, which includes the operation of telecommunications equipment requiring knowledge of telecommunications techniques to facilitate the flow of messages.  In the appellants’ case, this occurs during events and ceremonies and for those employees who use wireless devices (e.g., cell phones, smartphones, Blackberries) as a tool to communicate when performing their work.  Since there are no prescribed titles for positions in the GS-392 series, the agency may construct its own title for this position, in accordance with guidance in the Introduction.

The GS-392 PCS does not include grade-level criteria.  When no directly applicable grade-level criteria have been published, other occupational series standards covering work as similar as possible are used for evaluation purposes based on cross-series comparison.  The agency used the grade level criteria in the Telecommunications Processing Series, GS-390 PCS for grading the appellants’ position.  As described in the GS-390 PCS, positions in this series include one-grade interval work that involves performing or supervising the operation of equipment in transmitting, receiving, and relaying messages.  However, employees in the GS-390 series also perform other work analogous to the appellant's duties such as operating various types of telecommunications equipment and identifying and correcting systems problems.  In the absence of a more directly-applicable occupational series standard, we concur with the agency’s determination and find the grade level criteria in the GS-390 PCS is appropriate for use in cross-series comparison for grading the appellants’ position. 

Grade determination

The GS-390 PCS uses the Factor Evaluation System (FES), which employs nine factors.  Under the FES, each factor level 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 an equally important aspect that meets a higher level balances the deficiency.  Conversely, the position may exceed those criteria in some aspects and still not be credited at a higher level.  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 an employee must understand in order to do the work, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge.

At Level 1-4, the work requires knowledge of an extensive body of telecommunications and computer operating procedures to isolate and solve a wide range of recurring problems that affect prompt and accurate delivery of messages.  Employees use this knowledge to correct problems in messages that prevent transmission or proper routing, or to request corrections of messages received from other telecommunications centers.  Employees use knowledge of computer hardware and program capabilities to prevent loss of messages when the equipment malfunctions, there are errors in the programs, or there are unusual message traffic loads. 

At Level 1-5, the work requires in-depth knowledge of computer operating systems, procedures, and diagnostic or troubleshooting techniques, and knowledge of precedent situations to isolate and solve unusual and difficult problems.  Employees use skill in computer operation to maintain the flow of messages through a computerized telecommunications relay system, find alternative solutions when common solutions fail, and use nonstandard controls when standardized operator controls and procedures do not isolate and solve problems.

The appellants’ level of knowledge is equivalent to Level 1-4.  Like this level, the appellants must apply a thorough knowledge of PA system equipment and wireless device operations and procedures to isolate and solve a wide range of recurring problems that affect prompt and accurate delivery of voice and data messages.  They use this knowledge to activate service on wireless devices, diagnose device malfunctions, resolve operating problems affecting the quality and timeliness of the service, and explain the basic functional features of wireless devices to users.  For instance, when resolving wireless device connectivity problems or network issues in coordinating with the wireless cellular carrier, they provide end user technical support to restore interrupted services.  In their work with PA systems and equipment, they employ a comprehensive body of operational knowledge and skills to set up, operate, monitor, and adjust different types of PA systems and audio, video, and other equipment (e.g., flat screen TVs, CD players, large focus projectors) to facilitate optimal voice, audio, and/or video outputs for those delivering messages.  They must also use knowledge and skill to prioritize and schedule numerous set-ups and make productive and optimal use of equipment, meeting with event coordinators to review PA system requests to determine the precise equipment and type and amount of cables to be used to transmit information by users.  Similar to this level, the appellants also use knowledge of PA system hardware and operating capabilities to prevent the loss of messages when equipment malfunctions occur or to quickly determine the proper course of action to resolve problems encountered.  For instance, in the case of power shutdown during an event, they activate a power generator, or in case of unexpected rain during an event, they replace traditional with waterproof cables.  Moreover, to ensure the equipment is available when needed, they assess the complexity of the PA system to calculate set up and or tear down times to ensure prompt delivery of service. 

The appellants’ position does not meet Level 1-5.  While the appellants are required to be competent and knowledgeable in basic and routine maintenance and operations of communications equipment, their duties do not require in-depth knowledge comparable to that of computer operating systems, procedures and diagnostic or troubleshooting techniques, and knowledge of precedent situations to isolate and solve unusual and complex problems.  Rather, the appellants are limited to performing device activations and troubleshooting device malfunction relating to connectivity or operational problems.  The appellants are not required to use diagnostic techniques to solve unusual or complex problems, such as those requiring in-depth knowledge of cellular and network system operations to be able to diagnose a network crash or massive outages and restore services.  For example, they do not troubleshoot to locate the source of the outage or extract data (e.g. cellular site data) to trace cell tower problems. 

This factor is evaluated at Level 1-4 and 550 points are assigned.

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 2-2, the supervisor provides general instructions concerning established practices and policies, and provides instructions on special circumstances and changes in priorities.  The supervisor provides training classes on new procedures.  At this level, employees work independently within the established procedures and make minor deviations based on experience.  They consult the supervisor when normal approaches and procedures do not solve problems.  The supervisor occasionally spot-checks work for quality and checks logs for quantity of messages processed. 

At Level 2-3, the supervisor provides general instructions to cover anticipated problems.  The supervisor assists employees with high priority, unusually complex problems, such as system outages that do not respond to standard or other precedented combinations of computer commands.  At this level, employees identify problems, make decisions under pressure to restore system operation promptly, and take corrective action.  This sometimes requires adapting and modifying operating procedures.  The supervisor reviews completed work for adequacy of technical decisions and timeliness of actions taken. 

The appellants’ position meets but does not exceed Level 2-3, which is the highest level descried in the PCS.  Comparable to this level, the supervisor provides general instructions that guide the work in the appellants’ unit. The appellants perform their work independently and handle most situations that arise.  They determine the scheduling and priority of incoming work orders to complete the unit’s work on a timely basis.  Similar to this level, the appellants identify problems, make decisions under pressure to restore operations promptly, and take corrective action when they encounter unexpected situations during events by adapting and modifying operating procedures.  For example, in the case of a power outage during a major event, the appellants will use backup power sources to continue operations or, in case of rain during an outdoor event, they will swap cables with waterproof cables and take other precautionary measures.  Work is primarily assigned via the Remedy Ticket System but may also come directly from the Director and Deputy Director.  The supervisor reviews completed work for timeliness (i.e., whether the work orders were completed within the established timeframes). The supervisor gets this information from the Remedy Ticket System and also uses feedback from service users to assess the adequacy of technical decisions made.  

This factor is evaluated at Level 2-3 and 275 points are assigned.

Factor 3, Guidelines

This factor covers the nature of the guidelines used and the judgment needed to apply them.

At Level 3-2, employees use established procedures, manuals for the operation of the telecommunications system, and routing guides that show the proper address codes for the organizations.  The guidelines are numerous but are specific and detailed on how to solve common problems.  Employees choose the appropriate manual and may make minor adaptations to established procedures.  Employees recognize and refer to the supervisor unusual problems not covered specifically by the guidelines, such as conflicting computer error messages that do not respond to corrective actions. 

At Level 3-3, manuals, guidelines, and procedures are available and cover recurring work.  For example, the guides cover normal equipment problems and provide corrective operator commands and procedures.  They list the usual error codes that appear on the screen or on printouts and show the appropriate remedial actions to keep messages flowing smoothly through the switching or relay center.  The guidelines do not apply completely to unusual circumstances.  They provide only general guidance for situations not previously encountered.  Employees use judgment in adapting or deviating from operating manuals and established procedures and in finding related precedents to solve unusual problems, such as conflicting error messages or program deficiencies.

The appellants’ position meets Level 3-2.  The guides available to the appellants include equipment references, operating manuals, and established practices and procedures, as well as written PA system requests received providing event details and a general description of the equipment needed.  The guidelines are applicable to the work and cover most of the work and situations that arise.  The appellants use judgment in selecting the appropriate guide and applying the information in the correct manner as discussed previously with regard to planning and accomplishing PA and wireless device support.  Unlike Level 3-3, the guidelines used by the appellants are specific and detailed, and although they may on occasion make minor deviations as needed based on their experience, their work assignments do not involve routinely modifying or deviating from established policies and guidelines to solve unusual problems.  Instead, they refer non-routine problems to the service provider, equipment manufacturer, or to a repair center employees.

This factor is evaluated at Level 3-2 and 125 points are assigned. 

Factor 4, Complexity

This factor covers the nature, number, variety, and intricacy of the tasks or processes 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 4-2, the employee operates a computer system dedicated to telecommunications in a telecommunications center or in an intermediate relay center connecting several telecommunications centers to a worldwide system.  Employees examine, correct, and transmit messages or relay messages of various precedence and security levels using related sets of procedures.  This includes identifying and correcting a variety of software and hardware problems that respond to standard or precedented alternative approaches.  Employees must choose a proper routing for messages in accordance with manuals and directories that provide address, codes, and with precedence and security levels that may require special procedures.  They implement the proper solutions to computer system error messages in accordance with operating manuals and precedents.  Decisions depend on such things as the destination and priority levels of messages, security levels, and system or program capabilities. 

At Level 4-3, the employee operates a computer system dedicated to relaying messages.  The work involves solving operating problems that do not respond to standard computer console command combinations and procedures.  These may include problems referred by subscribing telecommunications centers.  Employees at this level use diagnostic test programs to isolate the causes of problems, choose a course of action likely to succeed from among several alternatives, and adapt it as necessary to the specific conditions.  Decisions at this level require assessment of conflicting problem indicators; consideration of any alternative routes or equipment configurations that have already been employed to solve previous problems; and adjustment for message load, precedence, and security levels. 

The complexity of the appellants’ position meets Level 4-2.  Comparable to this level, the appellants follow detailed operational guidelines and use related sets of procedures to determine how to set up a specific type of PA system and the resources required to support specific events.  The appellants operate different types of PA systems such as portable Anchor Liberty PA Systems which consist of a main speaker, companion speaker, two wireless microphones, one wired microphone, 50 feet cable reel, 50 feet microphone reel and two stands, as well as the Technomad Military PA (MILPA) System consisting of four speakers, a Technomad mixer, 16 channel rolls mixer, four built in wireless microphones and receivers and able to support up to 20 microphones.  Similar to Level 4-2, the appellants determine the appropriate equipment after consideration of the type of event and number of speakers or presentations requiring support.  For instance, a memorial dedication service with media coverage would require a more complex system using additional port mixers to support stage participants and chorus performances.  This type of event would also require having a backup power generator and electrical hookups available in case of a power outage or similar interruption.  Also, comparable to this level, the appellants work with a variety of equipment including small portable and larger outdoor and/or indoor PA systems, projectors, flat screen TVs, and wireless devices, for which the necessary equipment or service set up and adjustments are easily recognized.

In contrast to Level 4-3, the appellants do not use diagnostic test programs to isolate the causes of problems, and the decisions they make do not require that they assess conflicting problem indicators.  Instead, the problems they encounter respond to standard or precedented alternative approaches.  For instance, when troubleshooting a cell phone, the appellants check for service or connection problems using standard procedures provided by the phone provider.  This does not require the appellants to use diagnostic programs to assess the problem. 

This factor is evaluated at Level 4-2 and 75 points are assigned.

Factor 5, Scope and Effect

This factor covers the relationship between the nature of the work; i.e., the purpose, breadth, and depth of the assignments, and the effect of work products or services both within and outside the organization.

At Level 5-2, the purpose of the work is to operate a computerized telecommunications system to send or receive messages in accordance with established procedures.  The work affects the accurate and reliable transmission of national defense, medical, or other important messages.

At Level 5-3, the purpose of the work is to keep message traffic flowing to a worldwide system by promptly diagnosing, solving, or circumventing hardware and software problems in accordance with established policies and tight deadlines.  The work affects the flow of message traffic worldwide and can affect the timely delivery of a large volume of national defense, medical, or other vital information to and from several telecommunications centers.

The scope and effect of the appellants’ work meets Level 5-2.  Comparable to this level, the purpose of the work is to set up and operate PA systems and related equipment and issue and maintain wireless devices operable to enable customers to send and receive messages in accordance with established procedures.  The appellants’ customers rely on the provision of wireless devices and PA systems and equipment to transmit accurate and reliable transmission of important messages (e.g. emergency information).

In contrast to Level 5-3, where the purpose of the work requires message traffic to a worldwide system, the appellants’ work is limited to facilitating the flow of communication for users throughout the MCIEAST, and their work affects the transmission of information limited to events such as the MCIEAST 75th Anniversary Ceremony or the Montford Point Marines Association Memorial Dedication.  Unlike this level, their work does not affect the timely delivery of a large volume of vital information to and from locations comparable to telecommunications centers.

Level 5-2 is credited for 75 points.

Factors 6 and 7, Personal Contacts and Purpose of Contacts

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

      Personal Contacts

At Level 1, contacts are with other employees in the telecommunications center and with messengers who deliver and pick up messages.

At Level 2, contacts are with users of the telecommunications system, with programmers, and with employees in other telecommunications centers, switching centers, and relay centers.  Some of the contacts occur regularly and others only as problems occur, such as failure of messages to go through the system.

The position meets but does not exceed Level 2, which is the highest level described in the PCS.  Similar to this level, contacts are with users in the organization and outside their immediate unit such as civilian and military employees, Verizon customer service representatives, and employees from equipment manufacturer companies. 

      Purpose of Contacts

At Level a, the purpose of the contacts is to provide and obtain information necessary to complete

message transactions.

At Level b, the purpose of the contacts is to work with others in solving problems, such as outages that employees in connected telecommunications centers cannot solve for themselves or software problems that require interaction with programmers.

The position meets Level a.  Similar to this level, the purpose of the appellants’ contacts is to obtain necessary information (e.g., number of attendees, size of venue) to provide the appropriate PA system to support communications during events.  They also respond to customer requests to troubleshoot wireless devices to ensure uninterrupted service by activating and/or restoring wireless connections.  

The position does not meet Level b.  Unlike this level, the appellants do not work with others comparable to programmers or employees in connected telecommunication centers to resolve problems.  Their duties are limited to referring problems outside their scope to the appropriate individual or office for resolution.

This factor is evaluated at 2a and 45 points are assigned.

Factor 8, Physical demands

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

The GS-390 PCS only provides grade level criteria for Level 9-1 under this factor.  The Introduction instructs that he Primary Standard may be used in evaluating an individual FES factor which falls below the lowest or above the highest factor level described in the applicable FES PCS.  The Primary Standard serves as a “standard-for-standards” for the FES.  Factor-level descriptions for PCSs are point rated against the Primary Standard.  Thus, it serves as a basic tool for maintaining alignment across occupations.

At Level 8-1, the work is usually sedentary but may involve some standing and walking.  Some employees may occasionally lift heavy items, such as boxes of paper weighing about thirty pounds, when performing minor maintenance of peripheral equipment. 

At level 8-2, as described in the Primary Standard, the work requires some physical exertion, such as long periods of standing; walking over rough, uneven, or rocky surfaces; recurring bending, crouching, stooping, stretching, reaching, or similar activities; or recurring lifting of moderately heavy items, such as typewriters and record boxes. The work may require specific, but common, physical characteristics and abilities, such as above average agility and dexterity.

The physical demands of the appellants’ position exceed Level 8-1 and fully meet Level 8-2.  When transporting and setting up PA systems and other related components such as various types of cables, speakers and microphones, their work requires them to stand and walk around different venues and mobile locations for long periods of time.  Also, like this level, the set-up of equipment requires bending, crouching, stooping, or similar activities.  Further, they also lift equipment that weighs over 50 pounds. 

This factor is evaluated at Level 8-2 and 20 points are assigned.

Factor 9, Work Environment

At Level 9-1, the work is normally performed in a well-lighted and temperature controlled room.  There is a fairly high noise level, but normal safety precautions are sufficient.

The appellants' work environment meets Level 9-1. They work around noise and operate equipment sometimes in a mobile van supporting outdoor PA events, requiring them to use normal safety precautions.  For instance, they use gloves when handling equipment parts that may be hot from exposure to the sun during outdoor events.   

This factor is evaluated at Level 9-1 and 5 points are assigned.


Factor Level Points
1.  Knowledge Required by the Position 1-4    550
2.  Supervisory Controls 2-3    275
3.  Guidelines 3-2    125
4.  Complextiy 4-2     75
5.  Scope and Effect 5-2     75
6. & 7. Personal Contacts and Purpose of Contacts 2a     45
8.  Physical Demands 8-2     20
9.  Work Environment 9-1       5
Total 1170


The total of 1170 points falls within the GS-6 range (1105-1350) on the grade conversion table of provided in the GS-390 PCS.   


The position is properly classified as GS-392-6.  The title of the position is at the discretion of the agency. 


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