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In This Section

Classification & Qualifications Appeal Decisions

Washington, DC

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

[appellant's name]
Budget Analyst
GS-560-9
Administrative Services Division
[name] Construction Office
[name] Region
Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Department of the Interior
[city and state]

Budget Analyst
GS-560-9
C-0560-09-06

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

12/03/2013


Date

As provided in section 511.612 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), this decision constitutes a 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 the Introduction to the Position Classification Standards (Introduction), appendix 4, Section G (address provided in appendix 4, section H).

Decision sent to:

[appellant’s name and address]

[Agency HR addresses]

Introduction

On May 14, 2013, OPM’s Dallas Agency Compliance and Evaluation accepted a classification appeal from [appellant’s name].  The appellant’s position is currently classified as Budget Analyst, GS-560-9, but she believes it should be classified at the GS-11 grade level.  The position is assigned to the Administrative Services Division (ASD), [name] Construction Office (CO), [name] Region, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior, in [city, state].  We received the complete agency’s administrative report on June 24, 2013, and the appellant’s comments on the report on July 8, 2013.  We have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112 of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

Background and general issues

On August 2, 2011, the servicing human resources (HR) office reviewed the work performed under the appellant’s official position description (PD), number [number], at the appellant’s request.  The HR office determined the position was appropriately classified as Budget Analyst, GS-560-9.  The appellant subsequently filed a classification appeal with OPM, stating the agency’s evaluation failed to consider the “organization, management, and staff changes which resulted in additional responsibility” to her position.  In adjudicating this appeal, our responsibility is to make our own independent decision on the proper classification of the appellant’s position.  Because our decision sets aside all previous agency decisions, any concerns regarding the agency’s evaluation of her position are not germane to this decision.

The ASD employs three GS-560 budget analysts including the appellant and two GS-11 employees.  The appellant believes her position is appropriately classified at the GS-11 level, in part, because she is performing duties and responsibilities described in the PD of a budget analyst position which has been vacant since May 2012.  However, by law, we must classify positions solely by comparing their current duties and responsibilities to OPM standards and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  Since comparison to standards is the exclusive method for classifying positions, we cannot compare the appellant’s position to other positions, which may or may not be classified correctly.

The appellant provided the GS-11 PD, which describes a position providing budget advice, analysis, and coordination for the [project name] which, at this point in time, has a relatively small remaining budget.  The PD describes duties and responsibilities, like the appellant’s (as described under the position information section of this decision), including analyzing and evaluating budget impact based on program changes; compiling, analyzing, and summarizing budget information; analyzing, assembling, and developing financial data for preparation of recurring and special reports; providing advice on the use of cost structures and object classifications; monitoring and tracking obligations and expenditures; and gathering information for and compiling project work plans.  Since the GS-11 position is vacant and the scope of the budget work is materially different from when the position was established, and several of the factor level descriptions in the GS-11 PD differ materially from what is described in the appellant’s PD, we decline to task the agency with taking any specific action on the PD.  However, like OPM, the appellant’s agency must classify positions based on comparison to OPM’s position classification standards and guidelines.  In accordance with 5 CFR 511.612, agencies are required to review their own classification decisions for identical, similar, or related positions to ensure consistency with OPM certificates.  Consequently, the appellant’s agency has primary responsibility for ensuring its positions are classified consistently with OPM appeal decisions and must ensure proper review of the vacant position as required in 5 CFR 511.612.

Position information

The CO is responsible for overseeing the design, construction, and other program accomplishments related to specific projects and activities.  The ASD is responsible for the budget and finance, HR, information resources, property and procurement, mail and file, clerical assistance and support, and safety functions.  The appellant’s first-level supervisor is the manager of the ASD (an Administrative Officer, GS-341-12, position) and her second-level supervisor is the Deputy Construction Office Manager (a Supervisory Civil Engineer, GS-810-14, position).

The primary purpose of the appellant’s position is to provide current year program budget and accounting analysis, advice, support, and coordination for the following construction projects:

The appellant estimates spending 90 percent of her time on work relating to the [name] Water Supply Project (WSP).  [project description].  The WSP involves the execution of cost-share agreements with the state of [name] and repayment contracts with other project beneficiaries.

She estimates spending 10 percent of her time on work relating to the [name] Project.  [project description].  The project’s budget is currently at $1 million and involves completing punch list items.

A summary of the appellant’s major duties and responsibilities, as described by her official PD, follows:

The appellant analyzes, summarizes, and gathers current year budget information, determining if funding need estimates are consistent with program plans and work.  She researches and collects data from the project schedule, construction cost estimate (CCE), historical and contract records, and staffing projections to prepare activity plans for various project activities.  She determines whether projected obligations are within funding limitations established by the approved budget.

She monitors the use and rate of obligation and expenditure of funds, verifying timeliness of financial actions, ensuring correct funding and authorities, updating and reconciling the forecast of funds report, and recommending or directing corrections (e.g., the de-obligation of funds) when appropriate.  She also prepares justifications and requests for transfers among project funds.

The appellant provides cost structure development, coordination, administration, and maintenance.  The work entails maintaining and distributing cost structure lists to appropriate staff, determining when new cost structures are necessary, and advising staff on the appropriate use of cost structures, object codes identifying the type of expenditure, and organization codes.

She updates CCEs using established indices and accounting records.  She researches contract modifications and expenditure reports, determining the correct property identification, account, and pay item for each cost.  She calculates the feature allocation/distribution percentages annually based on CCE indexing, updates, or as needed.

In addition, she develops financial data and prepares reports in narrative, spreadsheet, or graph format.  She researches and calculates data to meet monthly, quarterly, and annual reporting requirements.

The first-level supervisor certified to the accuracy of the duties described in the appellant’s official PD.  The appellant states her PD is inaccurate, explaining in the appeal request to OPM:

Position description is written to describe a “support” role to higher-graded budget analysts which is not accurate.  I do not assist any higher-graded analysts.  It does not describe sufficiently the lead responsibility I have as current year budget analyst for major construction projects administered by ASD.  It does not describe the responsibilities of tracking costs in several funds, or the constant changes relative to construction.  It does not describe the development and maintenance of a very complex system of cost authorities and structures needed to track project costs with respect to cost allocations and repayment involving State, Federal, and Tribal entities.  It does not reflect the importance of the preparation of the CCE indexing which is utilized in cost allocations, budget estimates, and other Washington-level data submittals.  Overall, the position description is poorly written, redundant and repetitive; reflecting the fact the author is not completely knowledgeable of the position duties, requirements, and correlation of such.

We agree with the appellant’s statement regarding the repetitiveness of the official PD, e.g., updating the CCE is described twice.  Regardless, 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.  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.  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.

The appellant states the PD describes a position supporting higher-graded budget analysts.  The second to the last duty under the major duties section states:  “[p]rovides support for other Budget Analysts at CO as needed and performs other duties as assigned.”  The PD’s other major duties, as well as the introduction and evaluation sections, describe an analyst position performing budget and other finance related analysis, advice, coordination, and support work independently or in coordination with CO managers and project activity leaders.  The PD mentions occasions when the appellant will, when needed, work in concert with other ASD budget analysts.  We conclude the PD neither describes a position subordinate to the GS-11 budget analysts nor portrays the support work, described as occurring only on an as needed basis, as a significant duty.

The appellant also said her PD does not fully describe lead responsibility for current year budget analysis, the tracking of costs in several funds and constant construction-related changes, the complexity of cost authorities and structures required to track project costs, and the importance of CCE indexing.  However, a PD does not have to be a comprehensive and detailed narrative of the characteristics, complexity, and importance of a position’s duties and responsibilities.  We find the appellant’s work relating to current year budget analysis, tracking of costs, cost structure and authority, and CCE indexing adequately covered in the PD.  This and other work will be further considered under the grade determination section of this decision.

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.  Based on these criteria, we find the appellant’s PD is adequate for classification purposes, and we incorporate it by reference into this decision.

To help decide this appeal, we conducted telephone audits with the appellant on July 19 and 24, 2013, and a follow-up discussion on October 30, 2013.  We also conducted telephone interviews with the first-level supervisor on August 5, 2013, and the second-level supervisor, who is also the Project Manager (PM) for the WSP, on October 30, 2013.  In reaching our decision, we carefully considered all of the information gained from these interviews, as well as the written information furnished by the appellant and her agency.

Series, title, and standard determination

The agency assigned the appellant’s position to the GS-560 Budget Analysis Series, titled it Budget Analyst, and applied the grading criteria in the job family standard (JFS) for Professional and Administrative Work in the Accounting and Budget Group, GS-0500.  The appellant does not disagree and, after careful review of the record, we concur.

Grade determination

The GS-500 JFS is written in the Factor Evaluation System (FES) format, under which factor levels and accompanying point values are assigned for each of the nine factors.  The total is converted to a grade level by use of the grade conversion table provided in the JFS.  Under the FES, each factor-level description demonstrates the minimum characteristics needed to receive credit for the described level.  If a position fails to meet the criteria in a factor-level description in any significant aspect, it must be credited 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.

The appellant only disagrees with the agency’s evaluation of Factors 1, 2, 4, and 5.  We reviewed the agency’s determination for Factors 3, 6, 7, 8, and 9, concur, and have credited the position accordingly.  Our evaluation will focus on the remaining factors contested by the appellant.

Factor 1, Knowledge Required by the Position

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

At Level 1-6, work requires knowledge of, and skill in applying, the organization’s missions, functions, goals, objectives, work processes, and sources of funding; and commonly used budget and/or finance practices, procedures, regulations, precedents, policies, and guides that pertain to the assigned work.  As needed, the work also requires knowledge of, and skill in applying, sources of factual data about budgeting and/or finance matters relevant to assigned tasks.  The knowledge level must be sufficient to relate needs and accomplishments of the organization to anticipated and/or actual dollar figures in the budget; relate this knowledge to the needs of the serviced organizations; and work independently on routine or continuing assignments.  Typically, the locations of full performance positions that require this level of knowledge are in organizational components below which there are no subordinate functional offices.

At Level 1-7, work requires detailed, intensive knowledge of, and skill in applying policies, precedents, goals, objectives, regulations, and guidelines in such areas as financial oversight, budget formulation, and/or budget execution.  The knowledge level must be sufficient to analyze and evaluate continual changes in program plans and funding and their effect on financial and budget milestones, and develop recommendations for financial or budgetary actions under these types of conditions and time pressures:  uncertainty due to short and rapidly changing program and financial/budgetary deadlines and objectives; gaps and conflicts in program and financial/budgetary information; lack of predictive data; conflicting program and financial/budgetary objectives; and/or changing guidelines for the work.

The knowledge required by the appellant’s position meets Level 1-6.  Similar to this level, she applies commonly used budget practices, procedures, policies, and guidelines pertaining to the work performed.  She is aware of ongoing activity of assigned construction projects and their funding mechanisms, knowing when and where to obtain additional information as needed.  For example, the appellant reviews the weekly project updates and identifies pending activity on a reach (i.e., an area) requiring that she develop a cost structure, the 18-digit code used on source documents to identify the appropriate fund, project, authority, etc.  She submits the cost structure to regional office (RO) staff for input to the financial system and notifies the PM and other staff of the development.  She also reviews requisitions to ensure correct cost authorities are used, verifying payments are drawn out of correct funds and monies are sufficient to cover charges.  As at Level 1-6, the appellant’s position requires sufficient knowledge to relate needs and accomplishments of her assigned construction projects to anticipated and/or actual dollar figures in the budget.

The appellant’s position requires knowledge of the procedures and requirements for submission of budget documents associated with the normal budget cycle when preparing a wide variety of budget documents for Reclamation headquarters, RO, and the CO’s project management specialist and other staff.  Although adhering to the established document format associated with requisite data calls, the appellant created numerous spreadsheets to serve as her working copies, e.g., of the CCE to track costs, closeout estimates, full time equivalent (FTE) counts and pay rates, and crosswalks to other budget documents.  Her work compares closely to an illustration at Level 1-6 in the JFS, in which the budget analyst position requires knowledge of, and skill in applying commonly used budget and finance principles, practices, and methods of budget execution and the organizational structure, programs, and work methods of serviced components sufficient to function effectively in determining whether obligations, expenditures, and requested allotments are within funding limitations in the approved budget.

The appellant’s position does not meet Level 1-7.  An illustration at Level 1-7 describes a budget analyst position applying detailed, intensive knowledge of the policies, precedents, goals, objectives, regulations, and guidelines of a functional area (e.g., financial oversight, budget formulation, and/or budget execution).  The knowledge is sufficient to analyze and evaluate continual changes in program plans and funding and their effect on financial and budget program milestones; and analyze financial and budgetary relationships to develop recommendations for financial and/or budgetary actions.

The appellant’s position requires knowledge of the Reclamation’s and the projects’ mission, goals, work processes, and funding sources.  The construction costs for assigned projects are from appropriations and repayment accounts, and her position requires knowledge of the rules governing the funding sources such as the types of expenses for which these different monies are to be applied.  However, unlike the factor-level description and illustration at Level 1-7, the appellant’s position does not require analyzing and evaluating financial and/or budgetary relationships for the purpose of developing recommendations for actions under conditions such as gaps and conflicts in program and financial/budgetary information, lack of predictive data, conflicting program and financial/budgetary objectives, and/or changing guidelines for the work.  She makes recommendations stemming from transfer requests, budget availability and cost structure queries, and other operational problems and issues.  She also conducts midyear budget and expenditure reviews, forwarding her findings to RO staff for identification of region-wide shortages and surpluses.  Although she makes adjustments to estimates due to frequently changing construction project requirements, the appellant does not make recommendations requiring an in-depth, rigorous analysis of requests in an environment characterized by rapidly changing program and financial deadlines and objectives as described at Level 1-7.

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 supervisor outlines or discusses possible problem areas and defines objectives, plans, priorities, and deadlines.  The employee independently plans and carries out the assignment in conformance with accepted accounting, auditing, tax examination, budget, or finance practices.  The employee adheres to instructions, policies, and guidelines in exercising judgment to resolve commonly encountered work problems and deviations.  The employee brings controversial information or findings to the supervisor’s attention for direction.  The supervisor evaluates and reviews these characteristics of completed work:  technical soundness; adequacy of the investigation and analysis; validity of conclusions drawn; conformity with applicable policies, regulations, and procedures, and adherence to requirements; and feasibility and utility of any proposals.  The supervisor does not usually review methods used in detail.

At Level 2-4, the supervisor outlines overall objectives and available resources.  The employee and supervisor, in consultation, discuss timeframes, scope of the assignment including possible stages, and possible approaches.  The employee is fully experienced in applying concepts and methodologies and is knowledgeable in functional program characteristics and requirements.  The employee also is a technical authority with responsibility for these types of actions:  planning and carrying out the assignment; directing other functional specialists; resolving most conflicts that arise; coordinating the work with others as necessary; interpreting policy and regulatory requirements; developing changes to plans and/or methodology; and/or providing recommendations for improvements in order to meet program objectives.  The employee keeps the supervisor informed of progress and of potentially controversial matters.  Such matters may include these types of issues:  major problems in completing accounting systems development or installation; the possibility of fraud or items of major impact on other audit or examination efforts or agency program areas; the need for supplemental appropriations; and/or inability to meet key budget and program deadlines.  The supervisor reviews completed work for soundness of overall approach, effectiveness in meeting requirements or expected results, the feasibility of recommendations and adherence to requirements.  The supervisor does not usually review methods used.

The appellant’s supervisory controls meet Level 2-3.  Her position is responsible for providing current year program budget and accounting support, advice, analysis, and coordination for assigned CO projects.  The work entails monitoring obligations/expenditures, compiling and tracking annual work plans and service agreements, updating the CCE, and determining when new cost structures are necessary for tracking purposes.  The appellant prepares spreadsheets, status reports, and planning documents.  Similar to Level 2-3, she independently plans and carries out analysis and information gathering work involving the application of standardized policies and regulations and currently used methods and practices of budgeting and accounting to monitor the use and rate of obligations/expenditures, update and reconcile funds reports, etc.  As at Level 2-3, the appellant notifies her supervisor, PM, and others of situations involving potentially problematic or controversial findings (e.g., relating to budget availability), assignments with competing priorities, and other workload management issues.  Deadlines for her work, coinciding with submission of monthly, quarterly, and yearly budget forms, schedules, and reports, are completed in accordance with established precedents and procedures.

In some ways the appellant’s position exceeds Level 2-3 and meets part of Level 2-4 in that her work is reviewed only for meeting deadlines and overall adherence to requirements.  In her appeal request, she states:  “I do not receive any direction or advice from any higher graded analyst or the administrative supervisor, so there is very little to no supervisory control with respect to current year budget development or execution.”  The appellant has a significant degree of independence in the performance of her assigned duties, and she is responsible for actions described at Level 2-4 including planning and carrying out assignments, resolving most conflicts that arise, coordinating work with others, and interpreting policy and regulatory requirements.  However, in determining the proper level to be credited, it is not just the degree of independence but also the degree to which the nature of the work allows the employee to make decisions and commitments and to exercise judgment that is evaluated.  The appellant’s work is performed in accordance with established guidance and typically involves the use of established formats for analyzing, reporting, and compiling requisite budgetary information.  She does not routinely deal with problems or potentially controversial matters entailing the application of Level 2-4 judgment (required in situations equivalent to dealing with major problems in completing accounting systems development or installation, the possibility of fraud or items of major impact on other audit or examination efforts, etc.), nor does her work regularly require the extensive policy and regulatory interpretation or changes in plans and methodology indicative of that level.  Although the first-level supervisor does not have subject-matter financial related knowledge, the appellant is able to seek assistance relating to CCE guidance, clarification on data requests, and other controversial issues or difficult to resolve problems from the PM (who, along with the CO’s Construction Manager, retains responsibility for the management and oversight of project budgets), as well as the budget officer, accountants, and other staff at the RO.  Because this factor does not fully meet Level 2-4, Level 2-3 must be credited.

Level 2-3 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, work consists of performing varied duties by applying a series of different and unrelated but established methods, practices, and techniques.  At that level, programs and services may involve such items as salaries and wages of employees, office supplies, equipment, travel and the timing of financial actions such as acquisition, distribution, or transfer of funds.  The employee compiles, analyzes, and summarizes financial and/or budgetary information related to assigned areas of the organization’s financial program.  The employee translates organizational needs and objectives, by line item and object class, into budget dollars and the funding actions required to accomplish them.  The budget analyst considers program goals, provisions of applicable policies, regulations, and procedures, and alternative methods of obtaining and distributing funds.  The employee may recommend the approval or disapproval of requests for allotments of funds or actions involving the commitment of funds.  Accounts budgeted for are relatively stable and funding is from readily identifiable sources.  Decisions are based on the amount of funds in an account, deadlines integral to the budget cycle, and local controls and regulations pertaining to spending.

At Level 4-4, work consists of performing a variety of analytical, technical, and administrative work for substantive programs and support activities.  These programs and activities are funded through a number of sources such as appropriations, allotments, reimbursable accounts, and transfers of funds between organizations.  Programs and funding are unstable and subject to change throughout the fiscal year.  These changes necessitate making frequent adjustments to budget estimates or conducting partial re-budgeting during the fiscal year.  Program funding may extend for several years or more, as in the case of no-year appropriation.  The budget typically includes a wide range of object classes and line items for one or a few substantive programs and organizations.  Alternatively, the budget may include fewer object classes and accounts, but through which a wide range of programs is funded.  The budget analyst identifies and analyzes changes in budgetary and/or financial policies, regulations, constraints, objectives, and available funds that affect the accomplishment of program objectives.  The employee analyzes budget and/or financial program data to develop annual and multi-year budget estimates for assigned programs and activities; conducts research, identifies, and analyzes trends in the use of funds; and recommends adjustments in program spending that require the rescheduling of program workloads.  The employee assists program managers and staff officials in interpreting the impact of and planning for multi-year financial/budgetary and program changes.  To do the work, the budget analyst must choose the analytical technique that is appropriate for the task such as cost-benefit analysis, depreciation, and pro-ration of revenues and costs.  The presence of conflicting program and financial data make it difficult to identify reliable data.  Unpredictable short-term deadlines that vary according to financial/budgetary objectives, available funding, program goals, and workload make it difficult for the employee to:  identify trends in the use of funds; recommend program spending adjustments that require rescheduling of program workloads; and assist program managers and staff officials in interpreting the impact of, and planning for, multi-year financial/budgetary and program changes.

The complexity of the appellant’s position meets Level 4-3.  Her duties entail comparing projected costs with previous estimates and resolving differences; advising CO management, project activity leaders, and others on adjustments needed to comply with requirements; and monitoring current year obligations and expenditures.  As at Level 4-3, the appellant analyzes, compiles, and summarizes a wide variety of financial and budgetary information relating to assigned construction projects including data on project history and status, cost estimates and breakdowns, and accomplishments.  For example, she completes the quarterly construction in progress report, reporting on the recalculation of balances, completion of tasks, owner of features, estimated cost of completion, etc.  Some situations involve short deadlines, including meetings with cost-share partners requiring her to provide financial reports on project status.  However, many time constraints generally coincide with the regular budgetary cycle and are thus relatively predictable with monthly, quarterly, and annual data submission requirements.

The JFS’s illustration for Level 4-3 is consistent with the appellant’s duties and responsibilities.  The illustration describes work comparing and contrasting current and historical budget and workload data for supply and maintenance programs.  The employee uses findings to discern trends in spending and to anticipate needs for funds or reprogramming actions.  Like the appellant’s work, the illustration describes analysts reviewing, verifying, and analyzing data for consistency with financial program objectives and for adherence to instructions; considering information on current and past costs in financial statements and reports; recommending to operating offices the options for adjusting estimates of funding needs; and providing program directors and their representatives with procedural and regulatory guidance on the availability of or limitations on use of funds.  Similar to the factor-level description and illustration at Level 4-3, the appellant provides recommendations concerning the approval or disapproval of actions involving the commitment of funds.  She reviews fund transfer requests, comparing available funds against contract and noncontract obligations.  The appellant makes a determination on the availability of funds, notifying CO management for concurrence.  This and other decisions are based on the amount of funds in an account, deadlines integral to the budget cycle, and local controls and guidelines as described at Level 4-3.

The appellant seeks to credit her position at Level 4-4, stating her work deals with conflicting data and program considerations without benefit of predefined reports or schedules to follow despite continually changing construction project requirements.  We found her position involves performing budget and other finance work for projects with overall construction costs estimated at [number] million for the [name] Project and [number] million for the WSP (actual costs increase when indexed for inflation).  While the [name] Project continues at $1 million, the WSP is currently budgeted at [number] million but is being funded at the previous year’s rate of [number] million under a continuing resolution.  The appellant’s work also involves administering and developing up to 3,000 cost structures, and a number of the complicating funding characteristics described at Level 4-4.  For example, her projects are funded through appropriations and repayment accounts; work requires making frequent adjustments to budget estimates; and the budget includes a wide range of personnel, travel, utilities, supplies, and other object classes.

Regardless, the appellant’s position is not responsible for performing Level 4-4 equivalent work within the context of a vast project budget and other complicating funding characteristics.  For example, she is currently updating the existing FY 14 WSP budget, which entails reviewing information from project activity leaders regarding anticipated FTE counts and pay rates based on the status of assigned project components.  She identifies and resolves discrepancies between reported and projected FY 2014 budget estimates.  Unlike Level 4-4, the appellant does not analyze budget and/or financial data to develop annual and multi-year budget estimates for assigned programs and activities.  She provides the PM with current year trends identifying the project funds being spent and obligated.  The appellant recommends program spending adjustments (e.g., when overspending occurs), coordinating with RO staff to move funds after receiving concurrence from the PM or other higher-level officials.  She drafted indexing agreements explaining how indexing would be calculated for WSP cost-share partners.  The appellant is also responsible for tracking and verifying appropriate cost authorities are charged to ensure proper payment for the portion of a cost-share partner’s allocated costs.  She also updates the CCE using standard Reclamation indexing guidelines to establish the project value ceiling each FY.  However, this and other work do not involve assisting program managers in interpreting the impact of and planning for multi-year financial/budgetary and program changes as described at Level 4-4.  In addition, the work does not require utilizing the full range of depreciation, amortization, cost-benefit analysis, and other higher-level analytical techniques expected at Level 4-4.  Instead, the appellant’s work can generally be accomplished through comparison of the current and historical cost data and charts or plotting of data to arrive at conclusions regarding current and projected status of funds.

A Level 4-4 illustration describes a position providing analytical services to support the formulation, justification, presentation, enactment, and execution stages of the budget process for a substantial segment of the agency’s budget for personnel salaries and expenses.  The employee performs the following duties:  works with data, forms, procedures, and guidelines for both appropriated and revolving fund budgets; analyzes a wide range of past and present program and employment statistics and financial data; and reviews requests for funding and proposed staffing levels in relation to current obligations and expenditures.  The budget analyst determines the need to vary sources and methods of obtaining information; and assesses the impact of changes in programs and regulations on salaries, travel, benefits, overtime, and related expenses on the agency’s budget.  The employee encounters difficulty in interpreting and reconciling program performance owing to conflicting program and budget data; and in identifying and recommending alternatives to accomplish management objectives within funding constraints.  The budget analyst uses sound judgment to forecast the effects of revised levels of obligations and expenditures on current and future budget estimates.  In contrast, the appellant’s position does not involve the full range of responsibilities described in the Level 4-4 illustration nor is her work performed within the context of providing analytical services equivalent to a substantial segment of the Reclamation’s budget.

Level 4-3 is credited for 150 points.

Factor 5, Scope and Effect

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

At Level 5-3, the scope of work involves independently conducting a variety of tasks in limited functional areas.  The employee uses standard methods to resolve conventional problems and issues.  For example, employees working in budget analysis apply specific budgetary rules, regulations, principles, and procedures associated with all phases of budget formulation and execution related to segments of the budget for assigned support activities.  Work affects these types of matters:  the operation of systems or programs; the adequacy of investigations; the economic well-being of people; information on the amount, timeliness, and availability of funds; the availability of accounting data; or a requirement for taxpayer corrective action.  Work outcomes include information on the amount, timeliness, and availability of funds for items such as personnel salaries and expenses, routine maintenance, and similar administrative support activities in appropriated or industrially funded organizations.

At Level 5-4, the scope of the work involves executing modifications to systems, programs, and/or operations, and/or establishing criteria and other means to assess, investigate, or analyze a variety of unusual problems and conditions.  Work involves a wide range of agency activities or the operations of other agencies, or the activities of private sector entities with which the agency conducts business or provides services.  For example, employees working in budget analysis formulate and/or monitor the execution of long-range (i.e., 3 to 5 years or longer) detailed budget forecasts and plans to fund the implementation of substantive agency programs and projects.  The work includes establishing financial and budgetary goals, timetables, milestones, and other criteria against which the relative costs and benefits of program achievements can be measured.  Programs supported involve such matters as the production and distribution of goods, construction, or the delivery of services to the public.  Budget analysis at Level 5-4 may include planning the timely acquisition and use of funds through time-phased allotments and transfers of funds; adjusting long-range budget forecasts and monitoring their execution for assigned substantive programs; and analyzing costs, benefits, and trends in rates of obligation and expenditure of funds.  The effect of the work involves outcomes such as the amount and availability of funds for major substantive or administrative programs and services; or the budgets, programs, and interests of other Federal agencies, public organizations, and/or private industrial firms.

The appellant’s position meets Level 5-3.  Like this level, the appellant’s work involves independently conducting a variety of budgetary tasks covering various budget execution phases.  In accordance with budgetary rules and regulations, she uses standard budget methods and techniques to resolve a range of conventional problems and issues including, e.g., preparing project status reports and budget submissions, monitoring the use and rate of obligation and expenditure of funds, updating CCEs, and administering and developing when necessary cost structures for assigned construction projects.  Similar to Level 5-3, the appellant’s work affects the accuracy of project funding requests and the timely availability of money for different phases of the construction projects.  Her duties and responsibilities are also consistent with the specialty-specific illustration described at Level 5-3, where an employee prepares budgets for the annual operation of the organization’s relatively stable supply maintenance and data processing functions.  Advice and recommendations may affect increases or decreases in funds available for operation of the organization’s supply, maintenance, and data processing functions.  The appellant reviews budget availability based on various scenarios.  For example, to determine the available funding for cost-share agreements, she identified a potential negative shortfall in discretionary funds if all monies for contracts are obligated.  She recommended adjusting fund obligations to permit the obligation of CO discretionary funds to cost-share partners.  Consistent with the Level 5-3 illustration, her advice and recommendations directly affect the level of services provided by the CO.

The appellant’s position does not meet Level 5-4.  Unlike this level, her position is not involved in formulating and executing budget activities of multi-year budget forecasts and plans related to the implementation of substantive agency programs.  The majority of the appellant’s work involves the current year budget for assigned construction projects.  Her work requires constant monitoring and vigilance when researching contract modifications for electrical, fencing, and other items to ensure consistency with the CCE; reviewing obligations for incorrect charges, directing the responsible office to take cost structure correction action when necessary; and providing guidance to staff on budget object class and other cost structure issues.  The appellant reviews, updates, and reconciles the forecast of funds report.  However, this and other work do not involve assessing, investigating, or analyzing a variety of unusual problems and conditions as expected at Level 5-4.  Thus, the impact of her work does not extend to the degree envisioned for crediting Level 5-4.  Although the program supported involves construction matters as described at this level, the appellant’s work does not require establishing financial and budgetary goals, timetables, milestones, and other criteria against which the relative costs and benefits of program achievements are measured as expected at Level 5-4.  Instead, the goals, timetables, milestones, and other criteria driving her financial and budgetary work are established by Reclamation headquarters, RO, the PM, and others.  A Level 5-4 illustration describes a position, unlike the appellant’s, that formulates, justifies, and monitors the execution of long-range (5 year) budget plans to fund the implementation of major substantive programs and services.  Formulation involves developing detailed estimates and narrative justifications.  Execution involves planning for and monitoring the use of funds for meeting program goals effectively.  Work controls the obligation and expenditure of funds in approved budgets.  Work also assists in the internal planning and evaluation of organizational budgets and programs.  This is not descriptive of the appellant’s work.

Level 5-3 is credited for 150 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. & 7.  Personal Contacts and Purpose of Contacts 2-b 75
8.  Physical Demands 8-1 5
9.  Work Environment 9-1 5
Total 1,885

 

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

Decision

The position is properly classified as Budget Analyst, GS-560-9.

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