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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

[appellant's name]
Supervisory Contract Specialist
Regional Contracting Office
Marine Corps Recruiting Command
U.S. Marine Corps
Marine Corps Recruit Depot,
[city, state]
Supervisory Contract Specialist

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



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).

As discussed in the decision, the appellant’s position description (PD) of record must be revised to meet the PD standard of adequacy in the Introduction.  The revised PD must be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) office that adjudicated this appeal within 30 calendar days of the date of this decision.

Decision sent to:

[Appellant and HR office addresses]


On August 1, 2012, the OPM’s Atlanta Oversight office accepted a classification appeal from [appellant’s name].  The appellant’s position is currently classified as Supervisory Contract Specialist, GS-1102-14, but he believes it should be classified at the GS-15 grade level.  The position is located in the [office], Regional Contracting Office (RCO), Marine Corps Recruiting Command (Command), U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in [city, state] (Depot).  We received the complete agency’s administrative report, dated August 7, 2012.  On October 9, 2012, the appeal was transferred to the Dallas Oversight office for adjudication due to program workload considerations.  We have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112 of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

Background information

In March 2012, the appellant requested a classification review of his position from the Department of the Navy’s [area] Human Resources Servicing Center (HRSC).  Their findings sustained his position’s GS-1102-14 classification by application of both the General Schedule Supervisory Guide (GSSG) and the position classification standard (PCS) for the GS-1102 Contracting Series.  Due to the HRSC review, the appellant’s position was reassigned to PD, number [number], to reflect the additional duties performed as a result of the RCO’s reorganization.

General issues

The appellant believes the complexity of his position is equal to higher-graded positions, e.g., the Depot’s Comptroller and RCO directors and/or deputy directors at USMC bases in [location], [location], and [location].  By law, we must classify a position solely by comparing its current duties and responsibilities to OPM PCSs and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  Other methods or factors of evaluation are not authorized for use in determining the classification of a position, such as comparison to positions which may or may not have been properly classified.  The appellant did not provide PDs for the higher-graded positions or any documentation supporting his assertions.  Thus, the limited information provided by him is insufficient to warrant our tasking USMC with an intra-agency classification consistency report based on the positions cited by the appellant.

Like OPM, the appellant’s agency must classify positions based on comparison to OPM’s PCSs and guidelines.  Under 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, USMC has primary responsibility for ensuring its positions are classified consistently with OPM appeal decisions.  If the appellant believes his position is classified inconsistently with another, then he may pursue this matter by writing to the human resources office of his agency’s headquarters.  He should specify the precise organizational location, series, title, grade, and responsibility of the positions in question.  The agency should explain to him the differences between his position and the others, or classify those positions in accordance with this appeal decision.

The appellant based his appeal, in part, on an “accretion of duties” and other changes to his position as a result of the RCO’s reorganization, which involved an expansion of the organization’s service population.  Although we considered the reorganization’s impact on the position’s complexity, scope, and other classification-related factors, we do not consider volume of work in determining the grade of a position (The Classifier’s Handbook, Chapter 5).

The record shows the appellant’s position reports directly to the Chief of Staff (an O-6 colonel), who reports to the Depot’s Commanding General (CG).  The appellant supports crediting his position at the GS-15 grade level, asserting the Chief of Staff position is equivalent to a “full deputy of a General Officer.”  In a June 29, 2012, memorandum to OPM, his supervisor disagrees, stating:  “…there is no full deputy billet at MCRD/[specific region] [specific depot] that reports to a General Officer.  The employee’s position reports to the Chief of Staff of MCRD/[specific region] [specific depot].  The billet is held by a Colonel in the USMC….”

The appellant also prepared and submitted two organizational charts to OPM, showing his position with a direct reporting relationship to the Command’s CG and to the USMC Headquarters (HQMC).  The HQMC staff confirms no direct reporting relationship exists between the appellant’s position and the Command’s CG or HQMC staff.  Again, OPM must classify a position solely by comparing current duties and responsibilities to OPM PCSs and guidelines; therefore, we cannot use proposed organizational charts or the appellant’s other assertions not supported by the record in deciding his appeal.

Position information

The Command’s mission is to recruit qualified individuals to serve as enlisted Marines or commissioned officers for the USMC or USMC Reserve.  The Command is divided into two recruiting regions:  the Eastern Recruiting Region (ERR) and the Western Recruiting Region (WRR).  Each region is divided into three districts composed of several States; in turn, each district contains recruiting stations located in large metropolitan areas and recruiting substations in smaller cities and rural areas.  The Command accomplishes its mission with approximately 5,000 recruiters operating out of 48 recruiting stations, 574 recruiting substations, and 71 officer selection office sites across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Guam.  The Command’s two basic training facilities are located at the Depot and the Depot in [city, state].

The appellant serves as the RCO’s Chief of Contracts Office (CCO).  The RCO is responsible for the acquisition of supplies and services from commercial sources.  The Depot’s RCO previously provided contracting services for the Command’s recruitment-related functions at the Depot and [specific region].  In October 2010, the RCO consolidated and expanded its serviced population to provide the same type contracting support to the Depot, ERR, and WRR (includes all six districts with accompanying recruiting stations and substations) throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Guam.  The RCO provides the same contracting support to the [specific] Depot.

The appellant estimates spending up to 30 percent of his time on personally performed contracting work.  As RCO’s contracting officer, he has unlimited signatory authority.  His contracting work entails planning, developing, and establishing the Command’s contractual strategies.  He determines the contract type and negotiation authority to be used, prepares justifications, and negotiates many of the RCO’s contracts.  The appellant administers or directs the full range of contract actions required including the issuance of contract modifications, negotiation of changes, investigation and resolution of contractor delays, exercise of options, investigation and resolution of contractor delays, contractor performance review, and similar matters.  He provides contracting advice to CGs throughout the Command.  The appellant provides technical guidance and oversight to staff making recruitment-related acquisitions at Command headquarters and at Limited Contracting Offices (LCO) located at USMC’s six recruiting districts; however, the Command headquarters and LCO staff officially report to a chain-of-command separate from the RCO.  The RCO also manages LCO contracts above a $25,000 threshold.

The appellant spends the remainder of his time on work related to supervising the RCO staff and reviewing their work products.  As CCO, he serves as the first-level supervisor for the Supervisory Contract Specialist (GS-1102-13), a position organizationally designated as the deputy CCO.  The deputy serves as the first-level supervisor for two Supervisory Contract Specialist (GS-1102-13), one Supervisory Contract Surveillance Representative (GS-1101-11), and one Agency Program Coordinator (GS-1101-11) positions.  Each of the deputy’s subordinate positions serves as first-line supervisors to various civilian and military personnel.  In total, the RCO is staffed with 28 civilian and military positions.

The appellant and supervisor certified to the accuracy of the appellant’s PD.  We find the PD of record covers the major duties assigned to and performed by the appellant.  However, the PD and evaluation include statements not supportable either by the duties described in the record or information obtained during telephone interviews.  The PD includes statements that are overstated; e.g., the PD describes the appellant’s contracts as highly specialized and extensive and involving new or innovative equipment and facilities construction.  In contrast, the record confirms the majority of the RCO’s contracts are for non-complex, simplified acquisitions of commercial supplies and services.  The PD also makes unsubstantiated statements regarding the position’s personal contacts and scope and effect, e.g., stating the position impacts whole industries in terms of production capacity, financial commitment, and availability of suppliers and also impacts the well-being of multiple commands, develops or approves national level regulations and guidance, and advises on operational planning with top management and key operating officials.

Because PDs must meet the minimum standard of adequacy as described in the Introduction, the appellant’s PD must be updated so that there is a clear understanding of the duties and responsibilities representing the approved classification.  Regardless, an OPM decision classifies a real operating position and not simply a PD.  We have decided this appeal based on an assessment of the actual work assigned to and performed by the appellant.

To help decide this appeal, we conducted telephone audits with the appellant on October 17, November 5, and November 14, 2012, in addition to follow-up conversations.  We also conducted a telephone interview with his first-level supervisor on October 25, 2012.  In reaching our classification decision, we carefully considered all of the information gained from these interviews, as well as the written information furnished by the appellant and his agency.

Series, title, and standard determination

The appellant’s position is properly assigned to the GS-1102 Contracting Series.  The position meets the requirements for coverage and evaluation by the GSSG.  The authorized title for supervisory positions in this series is Supervisory Contract Specialist.  Neither the appellant nor agency disagrees.  We evaluated the appellant’s supervisory work by application of the GSSG and his personally performed nonsupervisory work by application of the GS-1102 PCS.

Grade determination

Evaluation using the GSSG

The GSSG is used to determine the grade of supervisory positions in grade GS-5 through GS-15.  The GSSG employs a factor-point evaluation method that assesses six factors common to all supervisory positions.  To grade a position, each factor is evaluated by comparing the position to the factor-level description for that factor and crediting the points designated for the highest factor level which is fully met, in accordance with the instructions specific to the factor being evaluated.  The total points assessed under all factors are then converted to a grade by using the grade conversion table in the GSSG.

The agency evaluated the appellant’s supervisory work at the GS-14 level by application of the grade-level criteria in the GSSG.  The appellant’s appeal request includes an evaluation of his position based on application of the GSSG, asserting his work supports crediting at least one level higher than the agency’s evaluation for all GSSG factors.  Our evaluation of his supervisory work follows.

Factor 1, Program Scope and Effect

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

In evaluating the population affected under this factor, we may only consider the total population serviced directly and significantly by a program.  We cannot count the total population in the geographic area potentially covered by a program.


At Level 1-2, the program segment or work directed is administrative, technical, complex clerical, or comparable in nature.  The functions, activities, or services provided have limited geographic coverage and support most of the activities comprising a typical agency field office, an area office, a small to medium military installation, or comparable activities within agency program segments.

At Level 1-3, the position directs a program segment that performs technical, administrative, protective, investigative, or professional work.  The program segment and work directed typically have coverage which encompasses a major metropolitan area, a State, or a small region of several States; or, when most of an area’s taxpayers or businesses are covered, coverage comparable to a small city.  Providing complex administrative or technical or professional services directly affecting a large or complex multimission military installation also falls at this level.

The agency credited the scope of the appellant’s position at Level 1-2.  However, we find the scope of his supervisory work matches Level 1-3 since the RCO provides contracting support for the Command’s activities.  The appellant directs work that involves providing complex administrative (contracting) services directly affecting approximately 5,000 recruiters performing a wide range of the Command’s recruiting mission functions, which equates to a large military installation as defined in the GSSG (i.e., a total serviced employee-equivalent population exceeding 4,000 personnel and engaged in a variety of serviced functions).  Within this context, the appellant’s Command-wide support also meets the intent of Level 1-3 given the total population serviced.  Further, the appellant’s position is comparable to the illustration at Level 1-3 where the supervisor directs administrative services (personnel, supply management, budget, facilities management, or similar) which support and directly affect the operations of a bureau or a major military command headquarters; a large or complex multimission military installation; an organization of similar magnitude, or a group of organizations which, as a whole, are comparable.  For the appellant’s position, the Command population serviced meets but does not exceed that of a large installation and, thus, is comparable to the “organization of similar magnitude” at Level 1-3.

The appellant believes his position should be credited at Level 1-4, stating in his appeal request the work involves directing professional work affecting multiple installations and commands throughout the United States.  He further states the following:

My position is the primary contracting authority within the Marine Corps for contract policy involving recruiting contracts.  Previously, this authority rested with three separate RCOs.  The span of control more than doubled, providing oversight of six limited contracting offices vice three and [his Command] headquarters.  Higher level command interaction became necessary, providing guidance to a Major Command vice a Major Subordinate Command and guidance to one Major General and two Brigadier General commands vice one Brigadier General command as well as guidance to six Colonel level commands vice three.

At Level 1-4, the supervisor directs a segment of a professional, highly technical, or complex administrative program which involves the development of major aspects of key agency scientific, medical, legal, administrative, regulatory, policy development or comparable, highly technical programs; or that includes major, highly technical operations at the Government’s largest, most complex industrial installations.  An illustration of work at this level is that which directs administrative activities (such as budget, management analysis, or personnel) conducted throughout, or covering the operations of, the agency's headquarters or most of its field establishment.  Further, the program segments directed materially shape or improve the structure, effectiveness, efficiency, or productivity of major portions of the agency's primary missions, multiregion programs, headquarterswide operations, or projects of national interest.

The program the appellant directs falls materially short of the complex staff support functions described at Level 1-4.  While the appellant’s work directly affects Command policies and regulations, the work does not involve the development of USMC-level administrative policies, e.g., USMC-wide contracting policies.  The focus of the appellant’s Command is on recruiting, a support function to the overall USMC military operations function.  Thus, by its very nature, the appellant’s program does not have the opportunity to materially shape or improve the structure, effectiveness, efficiency or productivity of major portions of the agency; i.e., Navy’s primary military operations mission or comparable functions anticipated at Level 1-4.

Scope is evaluated at Level 1-3.


At Level 1-2, the services or products support and significantly affect installation level, area office level, or field office operations and objectives, or comparable program segments; or provide services to a moderate, local or limited population of clients or users comparable to a major portion of a small city or rural county.

At Level 1-3, activities, functions, or services accomplished directly and significantly impact a wide range of agency activities, the work of other agencies, or the operations of outside interests (e.g., a segment of a regulated industry), or the general public.  At the field activity level (involving large, complex, multimission organizations and/or very large serviced populations) the work directly involves or substantially impacts the provision of essential support operations to numerous, varied, and complex technical, professional, and administrative functions.

The appellant’s position fully meets Level 1-2.  His work significantly affects the recruiting functions and activities of the Command organizations.  The RCO provides contracting and purchasing services for 5,000 recruiters, in addition to the civilian and military staff, assigned to recruiting stations, substations, basic training facilities, and other Command organizations engaged in the recruiting function throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

The appellant’s work involves providing essential support operations, but his work falls short of the Level 1-3 requirement that it also involve or substantially impact operations to numerous, varied, and complex technical, professional, and administrative functions.  The RCO’s work affects multiple Command organizations throughout the United States, and the staff is engaged in the single recruiting mission involving a mix of technical recruiting, office, and clerical type work.  The RCO’s contracting and purchasing work, tied as it is to the recruiting function, involves the acquisition of branding services, office supplies, laundry services, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, etc.  The impact of this type engagement falls short of Level 1-3, where work involves operations characterized as “numerous, varied, and complex” technical, professional, and administrative functions, such as that carried out at a large military installation with large-scale and diverse technical functions (e.g., contracting for depot-level repair and overhaul of complex weapons systems).  The RCO, in performing an ancillary acquisition function for its single-focused recruitment organization, does not involve the diversity or scale of functions expected at Level 1-3.  Also unlike Level 1-3, the RCO work does not significantly impact a wide range of agency activities, the work of other agencies, or the actual operations of outside interests such as segments of an entire industry.  Instead, the effects are limited to local businesses or small segments of a particular industry.

The appellant seeks to credit his position at Level 1-4, although the explanation he provided matches the description for Level 1-3 (e.g., he states his work directly and substantially affects essential support operations to numerous, varied, and complex technical, professional, and administrative functions where procurements affect industries, local labor markets, etc.).  As previously discussed, we find his position falls short of Level 1-3.  Consequently, we will not address Level 1-4.

Effect is evaluated at Level 1-2.

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

Factor 2, Organizational Setting

This factor considers the organizational situation of the supervisory position in relation to higher levels of management.

At Level 2-2, the position is accountable to a position that is one reporting level below the first SES, flag or general officer, or equivalent or higher level position in the direct supervisory chain.

At Level 2-3, the position is accountable to a position that is SES level, flag or general officer military rank, or equivalent or higher level; or to a position which directs a substantial GS/GM-15 or equivalent level workload; or to a position which directs work through GS/GM-15 or equivalent level subordinate supervisors, officers, contractors, or others.

The appellant’s position meets Level 2-2.  Like this level, he is directly accountable to the Chief of Staff, who is one level below the general officer position (i.e., the Depot’s CG, an O-7 brigadier general).

The appellant seeks to credit his position at Level 2-3, stating his position is accountable operationally to the Chief of Staff who he claims serves as full deputy to the Depot’s CG and functionally to an HQMC-level SES position (we address his statements under the general issues section).  The GSSG states that if a position reports to two positions, select the factor level associated with the position that has responsibility for performance appraisals.  The Chief of Staff has performance appraisal responsibilities for the appellant’s position.

Level 2-2 is credited for 250 points.

Factor 3, Supervisory and Managerial Authority Exercised

This factor considers the delegated supervisory and managerial authorities that are exercised on a recurring basis.  To be credited with a level under this factor, a position must meet the authorities and responsibilities to the extent described for the specific level.

The agency credited the appellant’s position at Level 3-3b, but he believes Level 3-4 is more appropriate.  The appellant does not specify whether his position should be credited at Level 3-4a or 3-4b.  Level 3-4 is creditable, either a or b, when the position involves responsibilities that are equivalent to or exceed those described in both paragraphs a and b of Level 3-3, i.e., both the managerial and supervisory responsibilities depicted at Level 3-3.

Level 3-3a describes managerial positions with the authority to devise long-range staffing needs, and are closely involved with high-level program officials (or comparable agency-level staff personnel) in developing overall goals and objectives related to high levels of program management and development or formulation.  In contrast to Level 3-3a, the appellant’s work primarily involves managing the RCO’s delivery of contracting and purchasing services to Command-wide organizations.  Level 3-3a describes the program management type work delegated to HQMC- and higher-level contracting personnel involved in making decisions related to broad staffing, budgetary, policy, and regulatory matters affecting the overall program on a national level.  For example, the HQMC is considering further consolidating contracting functions.  Since the RCO may be impacted by the consolidation, the appellant occasionally provides input or comments when requested.  He provides input to higher levels of management on basic program execution issues, e.g., by commenting on proposed policy or changes, but he does not have independent authority to make the types of managerial decisions described at Level 3-3a. 

To meet Level 3-3b, a position must exercise all or nearly all of the delegated authorities and responsibilities described at Level 3-2c (the record shows the appellant exercises nearly all the supervisory responsibilities described at Level 3-2c; as this is contested by neither appellant nor agency, we will not address the responsibilities further but incorporate them by reference into this decision) and, in addition, at least 8 of the 15 responsibilities listed in the GSSG.  Based on our review of the record, we agree the position fully meets Level 3-3b.

Responsibilities 1, 3, 5, 6, and 9 are intended to credit supervisors who direct two or more subordinate supervisors, team leaders, or comparable personnel.  To support these designations, the subordinate personnel must spend 25 percent or more of their time on supervisory, lead, or comparable functions.  The volume and type of work managed by the RCO requires using subordinates in a supervisory capacity to meet minimum requirements.  The appellant’s position may, therefore, be credited with responsibilities 1, 3, 5, 6, and 9.

One of the appellant’s major functions is to advise the Depot’s CG and other management officials of higher rank on the RCO’s program matters affecting the Command’s mission and functions.  Responsibility 2 is met.

Responsibility 4 is credited to positions exercising direction of a program or major program segment with significant resources (e.g., one at a multimillion dollar level of annual resources, in 1998 dollars when the GSSG was adopted).  This element does not consider the authority RCO has to enter into, administer, or terminate contracts and make determinations and findings related to the approximately $20 million in contracting actions completed annually by the office.  The appellant lacks direct control over the millions of dollars issued to commercial vendors; these amounts are paid off by funds outside the RCO’s budget.  He does control his office’s operating budget estimated at $2,081,857 annually, which accounts for the salary of the RCO staff and travel, training, and other discretionary funds.  This figure shows the RCO’s funding only minimally exceeds $2 million dollars, which is not multimillion within the meaning of the GSSG nor does it compare favorably when calculating for the significant increase in the nearly 15-year growth from inflation.  Since the appellant lacks direct control over a multimillion dollar level of annual resources, responsibility 4 cannot be credited.

Responsibility 7 involves making or approving selections for subordinate nonsupervisory positions, and responsibility 8 for recommending selections for subordinate supervisory positions.  The appellant has authority to make or approve selections for all civilian supervisory and nonsupervisory positions within the RCO.  Responsibilities 7 and 8 are met.

Responsibility 10 involves reviewing and approving serious disciplinary actions, e.g., suspensions, involving nonsupervisory subordinates.  The appellant has authority to approve suspensions, hear and resolve grievances, and issue letters of reprimand, performance improvement plans, and other performance- or conduct-based actions.  Responsibility 10 is met.

Responsibility 11 involves making decisions on nonroutine, costly, or controversial training needs and training requests related to employees of the unit.  The Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act establishes continuous learning requirements for all Department of Defense acquisition professionals, requiring the workforce to participate in at least 80 hours of continuous learning activities biannually with the goal of participating in at least 40 hours annually.  The Department of Defense provides acquisitions training through the Defense Acquisitions University.  The appellant makes decisions regarding who and when the RCO contract specialist and purchasing agent staff attend training.  Since his decision-making does not normally involve nonroutine, costly, or controversial training needs, responsibility 11 is not met.

Responsibility 12 is intended to credit supervisors who regularly oversee the work of contract employees in a manner somewhat comparable to the way in which other supervisors direct the work of subordinate employees.  As part of that regular oversight, such supervisors determine whether contractor-performed work meets standards of adequacy.  The appellant’s contracting officer work entails evaluating the performance of contractors and their adherence to contractual terms, but the work of the RCO is performed by civilian and military employees only.  Since he does not oversee the work of contractors in the manner intended for credit under this element, responsibility 12 cannot be credited.

The appellant regularly approves expenses comparable to within-grade increases, extensive overtime, and employee travel.  Responsibility 13 is met.

The appellant recommends awards and bonuses for nonsupervisory personnel and changes in position classification, subject to approval by higher-level officials or others (e.g., after the RCO reorganized, he worked with the human resources staff to successfully support classification of RCO positions at higher grade levels).  Responsibility 14 is met.

Responsibility 15 applies to supervisory and managerial positions overseeing organizations with considerable workloads so large and complex as to require attention to team building, or comparable methodological or structural improvements.  The appellant devises and implements process improvement strategies for the RCO and LCOs, but he does not oversee a workload of such magnitude and complexity as to require continual attention to team building or comparable improvements.  RCO, with fewer than 25 staff members performing primarily GS-1102 Contract Specialist and GS-1105 Purchasing Agent work in a contracting-driven organization, does not allow for significant changes relating to either structural or methodological improvements.  Responsibility 15 is not met.

Level 3-3a is not met and, by extension, Level 3-4 cannot be considered.  Therefore, our review of the appellant’s position against the criteria of either Level 3-4a or 3-4b is neither necessary nor appropriate.

Level 3-3 is credited for 775 points.

Factor 4, Personal Contacts

This is a two-part factor that assesses the nature and purpose of personal contacts related to supervisory and managerial responsibilities.  The nature of contacts, credited under subfactor 4A, and the purpose of those contacts, credited under subfactor 4B, must be based on the same contacts.

Subfactor 4A:  Nature of Contacts

This subfactor covers the organizational relationships, authority or influence level, setting, and difficulty of preparation associated with the personal contacts.  To be credited, the level of contacts must contribute to the successful performance of the work, be a recurring requirement, have a demonstrable impact on the difficulty and responsibility of the position, and require direct contact.

At Level 4A-3, frequent contacts are comparable to any of the following:  (1) high ranking military or civilian managers, supervisors, and technical staff at bureau and major organization levels of the agency; with agency headquarters administrative support staff; or with comparable personnel in other Federal agencies; (2) key staff of public interest groups (usually in formal briefings) with significant political influence or media coverage; (3) journalists representing influential city or county newspapers or comparable radio or television coverage; (4) Congressional committee and subcommittee staff assistants below staff director or chief counsel levels; (5) contracting officials and high-level technical staff of large industrial firms; and (6) local officers of regional or national trade associations, public action groups, or professional organizations; and/or State and local government managers doing business with the agency.  Contacts include those which take place in meetings and conferences and unplanned contacts for which the employee is designated as a contact point by higher management.  They often require extensive preparation of briefing materials or up-to-date technical familiarity with complex subject matter.

At Level 4A-4, frequent contacts are comparable to any of the following:  (1) influential individuals or organized groups from outside the employing agency, such as executive level contracting and other officials of major defense contractors or national officers of employee organizations; (2) regional or national officers or comparable representatives of trade associations, public action groups, or professional organizations of national stature; (3) key staff of Congressional committees, and principal assistants to senators and representatives; e.g., majority and minority staff directors, chief counsels, and directors of field operations; (4) elected or appointed representatives of State and local governments; (5) journalists of major metropolitan, regional, or national newspapers, magazines, television, or radio media; and (6) SES, flag or general officer, or Executive Level heads of bureaus and higher level organizations in other Federal agencies.  Contacts may take place in meetings, conferences, briefings, speeches, presentations, or oversight hearings and may require extemporaneous response to unexpected or hostile questioning.  Preparation typically includes briefing packages or similar presentation materials, requires extensive analytical input by the employee and subordinates, and/or involves the assistance of a support staff.

The appellant’s contacts meet Level 4A-3.  Similar to this level, he frequently contacts high-level USMC officials; contracting officers and other technical staff outside the agency, e.g., Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Energy; business owners; business representatives such as the local chamber of commerce; and similar personnel.  His regular and recurring contacts with high-level officials and technical staff concerning program issues require substantial preparation and up-to-date familiarity with complex technical issues (e.g., current agency initiatives affecting the contract program priorities and processes).

The appellant seeks to credit his position at Level 4A-4, stating his contacts are with high-ranking officials from in and out of the USMC, key officers and technical experts from commercial vendors, military and civilian managers, key officials from State and local governments, and judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.  However, we find his position does not meet Level 4A-4.  Most of the identified contacts are creditable at no higher than Level 4A-3; the record also shows he has minimal contact with key officials from State and local Governments or with judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.  Unlike Level 4A-4, the appellant does not have regular contact with executive level contracting officials of major defense contractors or the equivalent (i.e., presidents and chief executive officers of multibillion dollar weapons manufacturers).  He attends meetings and symposia where high-ranking officials are present, but he is not responsible for presenting briefings or responding to unexpected or hostile questions from Congressional staff; major metropolitan, regional, or national media; or a situation comparable to the extent described at Level 4A-4.  The appellant responds to Congressional inquiries regarding specific contracting actions, but the queries do not originate from Congressional committee chief counsels or principal assistants, require response during an oversight hearing, or other characteristics of Level 4A-4.  The nature of contacts with Congressional staff and other high-ranking external parties typically are informational in nature and indicative of Level 4A-3.

Level 4A-3 is credited for 75 points.

Subfactor 4B:  Purpose of Contacts

This sufactor includes the advisory, representational, negotiating, and commitment responsibilities related to the supervisor’s contacts.

At Level 4B-3, the purpose of contacts is to justify, defend, or negotiate in representing the project, program segment(s), or organization unit(s) directed, in obtaining or committing resources, and in gaining compliance with established policies, regulations, or contracts.  Contacts at this level usually involve active participation in conferences, meetings, hearings, or presentations involving problems or issues of considerable consequence or importance to the program or program segment(s) managed.

At Level 4B-4, the purpose is to influence, motivate, or persuade persons or groups to accept opinions or take actions related to advancing the fundamental goals and objectives of the program or segments directed, or involving the commitment or distribution of major resources, when intense opposition or resistance is encountered due to significant organizational or philosophical conflict, competing objectives, major resource limitations or reductions, or comparable issues.  At this level, the persons contacted are sufficiently fearful, skeptical, or uncooperative that highly developed communication, negotiation, conflict resolution, leadership, and similar skills must be used to obtain the desired results.

The purpose of the appellant’s contacts meets Level 4B-3.  As at this level, he justifies, defends, and negotiates with small business owners, Federal contracting officials, and others to gain compliance with the RCO’s established policies and regulations and persuade them to take desired actions.  The appellant also motivates or persuades persons or groups to accept actions or opinions where opposition may exist; commits Command resources through negotiation and formal contracting actions; and, as RCO’s representative at local chamber of commerce meetings, responds to questions and provides information as described at Level 4B-3.

The appellant seeks to credit his position at Level 4B-4.  He states:  “Contacts with military and civilian managers, both local, regional and national, are to advise on contracting issues, to recommend alternative courses of action and to interpret, explain and gain compliance with procurement laws, regulations and directives.  Incumbent must justify and defend the RCO’s needs for financial, manpower and other resources.”  Unlike Level 4B-4, his actions do not involve the advancement of his program’s fundamental goals or objectives, or comparable issues as described at Level 4B-4.  His work also does not involve committing major agency resources, where intense opposition or resistance is encountered due to significant organizational or philosophical conflict.  HQMC contracting staff handles actions relating to the commitment of the agency’s major resources, significant resource limitations or reductions, and other issues of such magnitude.  For example, HQMC is currently discussing the potential for further consolidating agency-wide contracting functions; and although the appellant provides input or comments when requested, he is not a principal participant in such discussions involving significant organizational conflict, competing objectives, or other Level 4B-4 characteristics.

Level 4B-3 is credited for 100 points.

Factor 5, Difficulty of Typical Work Directed

This factor measures the difficulty and complexity of the basic work most typical of the organization directed, as well as other line, staff, or contracted work for which the supervisor has technical or oversight responsibility.

In applying this factor, separate instructions are provided for evaluating first-level supervisors and second (and higher) level supervisors.  In this case, the RCO workforce includes 28 authorized positions organized into four different sections (i.e., recruiting acquisition, acquisition, contract surveillance, and agency program coordinator sections).  The appellant directly supervises the deputy CCO, who in turn serves as the first-level supervisor for each of the section supervisors.  Thus, the appellant is a third-level supervisor.

In evaluating second (and higher) level supervisors under this factor, the GSSG instructs to first use the method described for first-level supervisors.  This involves determining the highest grade of basic (mission-oriented) nonsupervisory work performed that constitutes 25 percent or more of the workload of the organization.  The following types of work are specifically excluded from this workload calculation:

  • work graded on the basis of supervisory or leader duties;
  • work for which the supervisor does not have the minimum supervisory and managerial authorities defined under Factor 3 (including such basic administrative supervisory functions as approving leave and      evaluating performing); and
  • lower-level support work primarily facilitating the basic work of the unit.

The agency credits Level 5-7 under this factor, identifying GS-12 as the base level work of the organization.  The appellant seeks to credit his position at Level 5-8, stating the base level work of the RCO is GS-13.

The RCO workforce includes a mix of civilian and military positions.  The appellant makes various assertions regarding the military employees, i.e., they perform work significantly higher than the GS equivalent grade reported by the agency.  We, however, cannot credit a position for performing work beyond its purported grade level without any substantiating documentation or other information verifying the appellant’s assertions.  In summary, no credit was given for any of the military positions beyond the GS equivalent grades reported by the agency.

The RCO changed its structure after its 2010 reorganization, e.g., reclassifying RCO supervisor positions and creating the GS-13 deputy position.  Establishing an intervening level detaches the CCO’s placement within the RCO structure and serves to dilute the appellant’s supervisory and managerial work.  As explained later in this section, the GS-13 supervisory positions were credited only for that portion of time spent on nonsupervisory work as documented in their PDs.  Some of the percentages for time spent on supervision do not withstand close examination and appear artificially high given the size of the organization and the full-performance grade levels occupied by the RCO staff.  This overestimation of time spent on supervisory work serves only to pull down the base level and results in a disadvantage for any consideration of the appellant’s managerial work.

For example, the deputy CCO’s GS-13 PD suggests 50 percent of the time is spent supervising two GS-13 and two GS-11 supervisory positions.  We carefully considered the PDs and evaluation statements for the deputy CCO’s subordinate GS-13 supervisors.  We noted the agency applied the PCS for GS-1102 work performed by the acquisition section supervisor.  The agency credited the position at Level 2-4 (Supervisory Controls), stating the deputy CCO sets only overall objectives and resources available.  In consultation, the supervisor and subordinate develop deadlines, projects, and work to be done.  The work of the GS-13 position is otherwise carried out independently.  In reviewing the GS-13 PD for the recruiting acquisition section supervisor, we also noted that the supervisory position spends 40 percent of the time supervising only three GS-12 and one GS-11 (currently vacant) contract specialists, as well as a military employee.  We conclude the GS-13 PDs report artificially high percentages of time spent on supervising minimal staff.

Furthermore, later in this decision we evaluate the appellant’s personally performed GS-1102 work, finding it supportable at the GS-13 grade level based mainly on his programmatic work (see Factor 1 of the grade determination using the GS-1102 PCS).  The size and mission of the RCO involves performing sufficient nonsupervisory programmatic work to credit the appellant’s CCO position at Level 1-8 of the GS-1102 PCS.  In considering the PDs for the RCO’s three GS-1102-13 positions (i.e., the deputy CCO and two section supervisor positions), it is highly unlikely that sufficient nonsupervisory programmatic work exists in an organization the size, structure, and depth of the RCO to permit crediting Level 1-8 to the RCO’s GS-13 positions.  Of the three GS-13 positions, the recruiting acquisition section supervisor position is classified at the GS-13 grade level based on the agency’s evaluation using the GSSG (the agency provided no evaluation of the position’s GS-1102 work).  However, the agency evaluated the deputy CCO and the acquisition section supervisor positions using only the GS-1102 PCS.  In both instances, the agency credited the positions’ contracting work at Level 1-8.  The GS-13 positions perform minimal administrative and technical supervision and oversight; considering this, along with the extent and amount of programmatic authority and work required of the RCO, we do not find it credible that sufficient nonsupervisory programmatic work exists to support crediting Level 1-8 to an RCO position other than the appellant’s.  Therefore, for the purpose of our discussion of this factor, we will treat the nonsupervisory work of the RCO supervisory positions as GS-12 or higher.

The following listing shows the positions we included in the appellant’s basic (mission-oriented) nonsupervisory workload and the grade levels at which they were credited.  We excluded a GS-2210-11 Information Technology Specialist position and an E-8 master sergeant (GS-7 equivalent) position from the calculation.  Since both positions report to the Chief of Staff, the appellant does not exercise minimum supervisory and managerial authorities over the positions as defined under Factor 3.  The workload the appellant supervises is broken down as follows:

GS-12 or higher

.5         Supervisory Contract Specialist, GS-1102

.6         Supervisory Contract Specialist, GS-1102

.67       Supervisory Contract Specialist, GS-1102



5          Contract Specialist, GS-1102


.75       Supervisory Contract Surveillance Representative, GS-1101

1          Agency Program Coordinator, GS-1101

2          Contract Specialist, GS-1102



6          Contract Surveillance Representative, GS-1101

1          Government Commercial Purchase Card Coordinator, GS-1101

1          Contract Specialist, GS-1102



1          Purchasing Agent, GS-1105


1          Purchasing Agent, GS-1105

1          E-7 gunnery sergeant (GS-7 equivalent)



2          E-5 sergeant (GS-5 equivalent)

Total nonsupervisory mission-oriented workload is 23.52.  The percentage of nonsupervisory mission-oriented workload at each grade level, rounded up, is as follows:

GS-12 or higher:                     8%

GS-12:                                     22%

GS-11:                                     16%

GS-9:                                       35%

GS-8:                                       5%

GS-7:                                       9%

GS-5:                                       9%

At 22 percent, the GS-12 grade level work constitutes less than 25 percent of the nonsupervisory workload.  However, when combined with the 8 percent expended on the GS-12 or higher workload performed by the RCO’s supervisory positions, we find the GS-12 work fully representative of the highest level of nonsupervisory work performed by the RCO.

The GSSG recognizes that for second (and higher) level supervisors, sometimes heavy supervisory or managerial workload related to work above the base level may be present.  In those cases, the GSSG permits using the highest level of nonsupervisory work directed which requires at least 50 percent of the duty time of the supervisory position under evaluation for this factor.  However, this alternative method is not appropriate for the appellant’s position.  First, the appellant does not supervise a heavy nonsupervisory workload above the GS-12 base level (only 8 percent of the total work unit workload).  Second, the relative freedom from supervision inherent in the GS-13 level positions undermines the likelihood that the appellant would devote 50 percent of his time overseeing this small workload.

Level 5-7 is credited for 930 points.

Factor 6, Other Conditions

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

The appellant’s position meets Level 6-5a, where supervision requires significant and extensive coordination and integration of a number of important projects or program segments of professional, scientific, technical, managerial, or administrative work comparable in difficulty to the GS-12 level.  His contract oversight work requires extensive coordination between the RCO and LCOs, which involves the supervision of work comparable in difficulty to the GS-12 grade level.  He distributes work assignments to various contracting officers and determines the work hours allocated to specific contracting actions.  Similar to Level 6-5a, the appellant’s work involves making major recommendations with a direct and substantial effect on the RCO and projects managed.  His recommendations involve determining projects or program segments to be initiated, dropped, or curtailed; changes to the organizational structure, including particular changes to be effected; optimum mix of reduced operating costs and assurance of program effectiveness; and resources to devote to particular programs.  For example, the appellant rearranged the RCO’s workflow and processes after the Command consolidated the contracting function.  He organized the contracting specialist work so that each specialist supports a particular customer, allowing for better communication between the RCO and its customers.  The appellant also combined many of the LCOs’ small contracts into a single contract centrally administered by the RCO.  This and other work examples are characteristic of Level 6-5a actions and recommendations.

The appellant believes his position meets both Level 6-6a and 6-6b.  We disagree.  Unlike 6-6a, his position does not involve supervising and overseeing work requiring exceptional coordination and integration of a number of very important and complex program segments or programs of professional, scientific, managerial, or administrative work equal in difficulty to the GS-13 or higher grade level.  The RCO’s base level of work is GS-12, not GS-13 as expected at Level 6-6a.

The appellant’s position does not meet Level 6-6b, where employees managed through subordinate supervisors and/or contractors who each direct a substantial workload comparable to the GS-12 or higher level.  Such base work requires similar coordination as that described at Level 6-5a for first-line supervisors.  Apart from whether the positions are deemed a “substantial” workload, only two of the RCO’s four sections are staffed with GS-12 employees.  Further, the intent of 6-6b is to credit the coordination of supervisory work required, not the grade level of work supervised.  Each of the appellant’s subordinate supervisors is not required to perform similar coordination comparable to that described at Level 6-5a.  The RCO is fairly small in size and function, so it would not be credible to accept that the subordinate supervisors are each required to make recommendations on significant internal and external program and policy issues; determining projects or program segments to be initiated, dropped, or curtailed; or making changes in organizational structure or resources to devote to particular programs.  Instead, this type of coordination work is performed by the appellant’s position.

Level 6-5 is credited for 1,225 points.

Factor Level Points
1.  Program Scope and Effect 1-2 350
2.  Organizational Setting 2-2 250
3.  Supervisory & Managerial Authority Exercised 3-3 775
4.  Personal Contacts
A.  Nature of Contacts 4A-3 75
B.  Purpose of Contacts 4B-3 100
5.  Difficulty of Typical Work Directed 5-7 930
6.  Other Conditions 6-5 1225
Total 3,705


The total of 3,705 points falls within the GS-14 range (3,605 – 4,050) on the grade conversion table provided in the GSSG.

Evaluation using the GS-1102 PCS

The GS-1102 PCS uses the Factor Evaluation System (FES) format, under which factor levels and accompanying point values are assigned for each of the nine factors.  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 the deficiency is balanced by an equally important aspect that meets a higher level.  The total points assigned are converted to a grade level by use of a grade conversion table in the PCS.

The agency’s evaluation statement credits the appellant’s nonsupervisory work at the GS-14 grade level, crediting his position at Levels 1-8, 2-5, 3-4, 4-6, 5-5, 6-4, 7-4, 8-1, and 9-1.  The agency does not provide an explanation for the factor-level assignments.  The appellant briefly raises the evaluation of his nonsupervisory work in his appeal request, stating:  “If the GS-1102 classification guide had been used to classify the revised PD, the factors in the revised PD would classify the position at the GS-15 level.”  Our evaluation of his nonsupervisory work follows.

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.

In addition to the knowledge and skills described at Level 1-7, work at Level 1-8 requires mastery of contracting methods and contract types to plan and carry out long-term preaward and/or postaward procurement actions; or, mastery of the procurement functional area sufficient to apply experimental theories and new developments to problems not susceptible to treatment by accepted methods, to extend existing contracting techniques, and to develop procurement policies for use by other contracting personnel in solving procurement problems; or, mastery of procurement principles and technical or program requirements to plan and manage or make decisions or recommendations that significantly affect the content, interpretation, or development of complex, long-range, or interrelated agency policies or programs concerning the management of procurement matters; and, familiarity with business strategy and program or technical requirements sufficient to perform or direct in-depth evaluations of the financial and technical capabilities, or the performance of the contractor; or equivalent knowledge and skill.

At Level 1-9, work may involve either operational assignments in planning and managing or reviewing and recommending to top management the approval of procurements for critical agency systems and programs within a major industry, or staff-level work in formulating new policies and concepts and advising management on issues and policy proposals affecting those procurements.  In either case, however, the procurements are characterized by most or all of the following elements:  (1) uncertainties involving the legislation, authorities, and scope of the program resulting from intensive Congressional interest; (2) unprecedented factual or contractual issues (e.g., stemming from the newness or complexity of the system or program, the departure from previous approaches, intergovernmental requirements, or comparable conditions) which require the origination of contracting innovations, concepts, or principles; (3) contract negotiations which require balancing conflicting interests of extreme intensity, such as those resulting from the unlimited potential for future applications of the new product, or from public and political controversy culminating in the formation of special interest or lobbying groups, or from attention by the national news media thereby heightening the conflicts and increasing the negotiation problems; and (4) procurements involving systems or programs of such magnitude as to affect the economic health of a major industry whose economic position, in turn, affects the health and stability of the general economy, or significantly affects foreign economies.

The appellant’s position meets Level 1-8.  His position requires mastery of contracting methods and types to plan and administer procurement actions with an estimated length of up to five years, using formal advertising, negotiating, and other contracting methods.  As the CCO, the appellant’s position requires substantial integration of the work performed by contract specialists, contract surveillance representatives, procurement analysts, and contract administrators.  Like Level 1-8, he applies this mastery-level knowledge and skill to provide expert technical leadership, staff coordination, and consultation to all civilian and military staff performing acquisition support at the RCO and LCOs.  As the recognized procurement expert, the appellant evaluates the adequacy and effectiveness of contractual work performed at the RCO and LCOs, monitoring the work of contracting staff and taking appropriate action when deficiencies are identified.

His other work entails planning, managing, and executing the Command’s contracts and acquisitions, administering fixed-price and cost reimbursement contracts.  Considerations when awarding contracts include a price and cost analysis, vendor fitness, and adequacy of competition.  The appellant also makes decisions on equitable judgment requests from contractors.  For example, the RCO is responsible for a five-year contract involving branding services for the Command’s recruiting stations and substations.  The vendor, responsible for installing wall-sized poster boards and other branding services, requested an additional $350,000 to cover the cost of extra work performed due to incorrect measurements provided by the recruiting stations.  The appellant conducts cost/price analyses, making determinations regarding the appropriateness of the amounts and expenses requested based on market prices and applicable regulations.

The appellant’s position does not meet Level 1-9.  Unlike this level, his work does not require generating new procurement concepts nor does it have significant responsibility for planning, managing, reviewing, or recommending approval of procurements for the largest and newest or similarly critical agency systems or programs.  His procurements do not include uncertainties involving legislation, authorities, and program scope from intensive Congressional interest; unprecedented factual or contractual issues; or other characteristics as described at Level 1-9.  Also unlike the appellant’s position, Level 1-9 contemplates an in-depth, ongoing advisory role where the employee would be advising top management (e.g., department heads and agency executives) on major procurements and formulating new policies and concepts with a broad or long-range impact on the agency’s overall procurement program.

Level 1-8 is credited for 1,550 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 2-4, the supervisor sets the overall objectives and resources available.  The employee and supervisor, in consultation, develop the deadlines, projects, and work to be done.  The employee plans and carries out the assignment, such as determining the approach to be taken or methodology to be used, developing a factfinding plan, determining the depth of analysis or review required, or performing the initial planning necessary to conduct management evaluations of procurement programs for compliance with procurement policies and regulations.  The employee initiates necessary coordination with technical representatives, accountants or auditors, financial staff, attorneys, other contract specialists, or field activities, both in the Government and in the contractors’ organizations.  The employee obtains necessary information and supporting documentation (e.g., audit reports, preaward surveys, justifications for sole source and similar requirements) and resolves most conflicts which arise, such as disagreements over technical descriptions, elements of cost, economic indices used, and similar matters which arise.  The employee may negotiate alone, but keeps the supervisor informed of progress, potentially controversial conflicts or issues which arise, or matters which affect policy or have other far-reaching implications.  Completed work is reviewed from an overall standpoint in terms of feasibility, compatibility with other work, or effectiveness in meeting requirements or expected results, e.g., providing a viable contracting approach for meeting program needs and established objectives, or for impact on future procurements.

At Level 2-5, the supervisor provides administrative direction and makes assignments in terms of broadly defined programs or functions, or long-range acquisition and agency objectives.  Requirements frequently stem from mission or program goals and objectives, or from national, departmental, or agency policy.  The employee determines the approaches and methods necessary to carry out the assignment, including the design of overall plans and strategies for the projects, in order to meet mission or program goals, requirements, and timeframes.  The employee independently carries out the work, including continual coordination of the various elements involved, and independently negotiates.  Work products or advisory services provided to management or to field activities are considered to be technically authoritative.  In some cases the employee’s work is reviewed by formal review boards.  Review focuses on compatibility with overall management objectives, fulfillment of program objectives, attainment of goals established in the acquisition or review plan, appropriateness of the business arrangements, and contribution to the success of the mission on both a short- and long-term basis.  Recommendations for new procurement approaches or policies, or for modifications of contractual arrangements, are usually reviewed for compatibility with broad program and agency objectives, impact on agency procurement activities, economies achieved, and/or improvement in effectiveness or performance of procurement programs including those at subordinate echelons throughout the agency.

The agency credited the appellant’s position at Level 2-5, but we find his position meets Level 2-4.  As at Level 2-4, he is responsible for independently planning, organizing, and carrying out assignments; interpreting, extending, and developing new contract provisions, incentives, clauses, terms, and conditions; determining which of several contracting approaches and methods to use; coordinating with vendors, HQMC contracting staff, and others; and resolving problems with interested parties.  The appellant has unlimited signature authority as contracting officer, but there are established monetary thresholds requiring HQMC review.  Like Level 2-4, he keeps the Chief of Staff apprised of controversial or major problems.

The supervisory controls exercised over the appellant’s position approach Level 2-5, e.g., the review of his work by the immediate supervisor is less rigorous than that described at Level 2-4 where work is evaluated for overall feasibility, compatibility with other work, and effectiveness in meeting requirements.  However, his supervisory controls fall short of Level 2-5.  This factor encompasses three elements:  supervisory controls, employee responsibility, and supervisory review.  Within that context, Level 2-5 represents not only increased independence of action over Level 2-4, but also a corresponding increase in the level of responsibility assigned to the employee largely as a function of the nature of the assignment.  Level 2-5 is predicated on a significant degree of program authority which provides the context for the degree of supervisory controls described.

The appellant plans and carries out the Command’s contracting functions; however, his recommendations and other work do not impact agency (i.e., USMC or Navy) procurement activities and objectives as described at Level 2-5.  HQMC contracting staff is responsible for making decisions of this magnitude and deciding the overall approach to the agency’s contracting work.  Decisions made by employees under administrative direction at Level 2-5 are generally afforded the full weight of agency policy once they are implemented.  In contrast, the appellant implements the policies, priorities, and procedures directed by HQMC and higher-level officials while adapting them for the RCO.  So, regardless of how independently he works in completing assignments, the nature of his work does not permit exercising the level of responsibility and authority found at Level 2-5.

Level 2-4 is credited for 450 points.

Factor 3, Guidelines

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

At Level 3-4, policies and precedents are available but stated in general terms, or are of limited use.  Intensive searches of a wide range of regulations and policy circulars applicable to the numerous and diversified procurement issues encountered are frequently required.  Guidelines are often inadequate in dealing with problems, requiring ingenuity and originality in interpreting, modifying, and extending guides, techniques, and precedents; in devising terms and conditions tailored to specific procurements; or in balancing the application of the guidelines in relation to novel program or technical needs, business considerations, and the socioeconomic climate.  For example, previous negotiations are not directly applicable, or pricing data is incomplete or limited, because of changes in materials or manufacturing processes, or because of lack of experience in the social, economic, environmental, or health issues involved; or the large number of subcontractors or volume of contractual provisions requires close monitoring and continuous assessment during contract administration, or requires extensive analysis to determine allowability and allocability of costs in resolving claims or terminations.  The employee uses experienced judgment and initiative in applying principles underlying guidelines, as in the evaluation of subordinate procurement programs; in deviating from traditional techniques; or in researching trends and patterns to develop new approaches, criteria, or proposed policies.

At Level 3-5, guidelines consist of legislation, broad and general policy statements, and procurement regulations involving one or more agencies, which require extensive interpretation.  The employee is an authority on developing and interpreting procurement guidelines, policies, regulations, and/or legislation.  Employees working in staff positions generally draft agency procurement regulations or policies.  Employees working in operational positions are responsible for procurements for which little or no contractual precedents exist to guide them in developing and modifying the procurement strategies.  For example, a procurement which involves a significant departure from existing systems or programs necessitates original and creative effort to obtain a reasonable balance of interests or the redefinition of policy in the design and execution of the procurement.

The appellant’s guidelines meet Level 3-4.  Available guidelines include the Federal Acquisition Regulation and other Federal, agency, and local acquisition laws, regulations, and procedures such as the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement, Navy Marine Corps Acquisition Regulation Supplement, and Marine Corps Acquisition Procedures Supplement.  As at Level 3-4, the appellant typically applies substantial judgment in applying policies and guidelines to various contracting situations.  The guidelines are often inadequate in dealing with problems, requiring ingenuity and originality to interpret, modify, and extend guides, techniques, and precedents.  His work requires intensive searches of a wide range of regulations and policies, as well as Comptroller General or other legal precedents, applicable to the numerous and diverse procurement issues encountered as expected at Level 3-4.

The appellant’s guidelines do not meet Level 3-5.  Unlike this level, his work does not require interpreting and developing authoritative agency procurement guidelines, policies, regulations, and/or legislation, nor are his available guidelines limited to broadly stated and nonspecific policy statements and basic legislation requiring extensive interpretation.  The appellant performs his work within the confines of agency internal regulations and policies, and the work does not require significant departures from existing systems or programs or the redefinition of policy.  Although he provides technical review and advice on a wide range of contracting actions or issues, he is not responsible for the agency-level policy or regulatory development anticipated at Level 3-5.

Level 3-4 is credited for 450 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 4-5, work is characterized by breadth of planning and coordination, or depth of problem identification and analysis.  These stem from the variety of the procurement functions or from the unknowns, changes or conflicts inherent in the issues.  Alternatively, work may also be characterized by responsibility as team leader or project officer for a significant procurement assignment having various complexities.  Assignment complexities might include program, project, or technical services involving extensive subcontracting; initial production of equipment, systems, or research and development where there is a lack of experience or the use of new materials making costs difficult to project; in-depth cost analysis; advanced architectural or engineering design services; or contractual arrangements estimated to be a minimum of two years or more.  At this level, the employee is constantly balancing program and technical needs, the interests of the contractors, statutory and regulatory requirements, and the prevailing socioeconomic climate to make decisions.  Procurements typically require new or modified contract terms and conditions, funding arrangements, or policy interpretations throughout the preaward and postaward phases.  At this level, staff assignments include conducting program review of a wide range of procurement functions performed by subordinate activities.

At Level 4-6, work consists of broad contracting functions and activities involving several phases being pursued concurrently or sequentially with the support of technical, procurement, program, and management personnel within and outside the organization (e.g., developing guidance for contracting staff to follow throughout the acquisition strategies for a number of procurements supporting major agency programs).  The work concerns areas where issues are largely undefined, little or no established practices or precedents are available, and where new techniques and approaches need to be devised.  Work at this level involves procurement systems or programs which require extensive analyses and continuing evaluation of potential approaches to establish comprehensive solutions or the development of new concepts, theories, or programs which will influence the procedures and ideas of others or resolve unyielding problems.

The agency credited the appellant’s position at Level 4-6, but we find his position meets Level 4-5.  As CCO, his assignments require extensive planning, coordinating, and interpreting of contracts.  Similar to Level 4-5, he develops and administers contracts with an estimated length of two or more years, involving modifications and new negotiations on an annual basis as well as day-to-day administration.  The appellant balances program and technical needs, such as weighing the retention of desirable contract features while incorporating new incentive features and the interest of contractors.  Like Level 4-5, he considers the socioeconomic climate and includes small and disadvantaged businesses, following procedures and regulations to set aside those requirements when appropriate vendors cannot be located (e.g., in considering a small business bid for a uniform alteration contract, he evaluated the vendor’s workforce capabilities by considering previous annual sales and determined the business operated well below the level of service indicated by the contract bid).  In addition to providing ongoing technical advice and oversight, the appellant conducts regular program reviews of RCO and LCO operations as described at Level 4-5.

The appellant’s position does not meet Level 4-6.  This level envisions oversight of contracts for major systems (e.g., ship, aircraft, or major weapons systems) or programs, not the commercially available products and support services acquired by the RCO.  The appellant’s procurements do not involve the magnitude or complexity expected at Level 4-6, and thus do not require the development of “integrated procurement strategies” or “new concepts, theories, or programs” to support major agency programs.  The Command’s recruitment-focused mission does not require integration, as it relates to contracting, with other USMC functions.  So, although the Command’s mission supports the USMC mission by providing sufficiently equipped and qualified personnel, the RCO’s contracting activities do not directly impact the USMC’s major agency programs as defined in the PCS.  Instead, headquarters contracting officials at USMC or Navy are responsible for making contracting decisions if and when procurement activities are shared (e.g., joint purchasing of standard commercially-available supplies).

Level 4-5 is credited for 325 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 5-5, the purpose of the work is to resolve critical problems, or develop new approaches for use by other contract specialists, or for use in planning, negotiating, awarding, administering, and/or settling the termination of major procurements.  Recommendations or commitments are accepted as authoritative, and frequently carry contracting officer authority for transactions involving sizeable expenditures of staff, funds, and material.  The work typically requires:  (1) planning and negotiating procurements for long-term systems, programs, or projects (i.e., five years); (2) administering long-term contracts, with delegated final authority to obligate funds in connection with most transactions and, as required, serving as team leader over a group of specialists whose services and advice are used in order to arrive at a decision; (3) negotiating termination settlements and approving contractor’s proposed settlements with subcontractors for contracts in which several years of work have been expended, or which involve extensive proposals and/or claims of prime and subcontractors and large amounts of inventory and Government property; (4) developing innovative contractual arrangements to resolve critical procurement problems and satisfy unusual procurement situations; (5) establishing and advocating positions for the region, command, administration, agency or department on major procurement issues; (6) developing procurement regulations, extending techniques, interpreting policy for use by other contracting specialists; or (7) performing comparable work.

Work products at Level 5-5 affect the work of other experts within or outside the agency, e.g., the development of guides or procedures for use by subordinate contracting activities; the operation and evaluation of subordinate contracting programs; the accomplishment of major procurement which contribute to the achievement of mission objectives; the decisions of senior procurement, technical, or program officials in terms of the authoritative procurement advice provided; the economic well-being of a large corporation or subsidiary; or the well-being of substantial numbers of people, such as those employed in a major industry, or those served by a broad social, economic, health, or environmental program.

At Level 5-6, the purpose of the work is to plan, develop, and execute critical agency procurement programs which are essential to the mission of the agency or department.  Procurements or policies have the potential for affecting the economic health of a major industry or class of industries whose economic position affects the health and stability of the general economy, or for affecting major research or social programs which affect the quality of life on a long-term basis.  The capabilities of the new system or program, or the magnitude and potential impact of the program or policy and its importance to the Nation in terms of defense, health, resources, or economy are such that the program receives scrutiny by top management in the agency, and often generates nationwide public interest.

The appellant’s position meets Level 5-5.  The RCO program involves contract awards, contract administration, contract surveillance, purchasing functions, and associated functions.  The appellant serves as a contracting officer with unlimited signatory authority for the Command where, as at Level 5-5, contracts are characterized by commitment periods extending over long periods of time (i.e., five years).  Also at this level, he is delegated final authority to obligate funds related to most RCO transactions.  The appellant plans, develops, and establishes the contractual and prenegotiation strategy for the RCO contracts.  Similar to Level 5-5, he makes final decisions on contracting technical matters such as determining the most appropriate procurement method and contractual arrangement to fulfill specific requirements.  He also conducts in-depth analyses of the contractor’s ability to comply with contract terms.  The appellant also develops guides and procedures used by the RCO and LCO contracting staff, interpreting existing policies and extending techniques for use.  His work involving the oversight, direction, and guidance of contracting personnel at the RCO, LCO, and other Command organizations is characteristic of Level 5-5, involving developing, extending, or interpreting procurement techniques and policies for use by other contracting specialists.  Also similar to Level 5-5, the appellant’s work directly affects the work of the RCO and LCO contracting specialists, as well as the successful conduct and timeliness of the Command’s programs and functions.

The appellant’s position does not meet Level 5-6.  In contrast to Level 5-6, his work does not involve the planning, developing, and executing of critical agency procurement programs essential to the mission of an agency or department, which is the responsibility of HQMC, Navy, and other higher-level contracting staff.  Also unlike Level 5-6, the appellant’s contracting work does not impact the economic health of a major industry or class of industries which would affect the health and stability of the general economy or the quality of life on a long-term basis.  The impact of his program and/or policies also does not generate nationwide public interest as described at Level 5-6.

Level 5-5 is credited for 325 points.

Factor 6, Personal Contacts

This factor considers face-to-face and telephone contacts with people not in the supervisory chain.

At Level 6-3, personal contacts are with specialists, managers, officials, or groups from outside the employing agency in a moderately unstructured setting; e.g., the purpose and extent of each contact is usually different, and the role and authority of each party is identified and developed during the course of the contact.  Contacts at this level include contractors, specialists at contractors’ plants, manufacturers’ representatives, attorneys, auditors, and representatives of universities, nonprofit organizations, State and local governments, professional organizations, the news media, public action groups, or other Federal agencies, e.g., other departments or activities outside the chain of command.

At Level 6-4, personal contacts are with high-ranking officials from outside the employing agency.  Contacts are characterized by problems, such as:  the officials may be relatively inaccessible; appointments or arrangements may have to be made well in advance; each contact may be conducted under different ground rules; or comparable problems.  Typical of contacts at this level are those with Congressional members and key staff, senior corporate officials, key representatives from national or international organizations, key officials from other Federal agencies, principal executives of universities and nonprofit organizations, and key officials from State and local governments and from judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.

The agency credited the appellant’s position at Level 6-4.  We find his position meets Level 6-3 instead.  He has regular and recurring contact with contracting officers/specialists within the Command and at other Federal agencies including the Department of Energy, Corps of Engineers, and Small Business Administration.  He also has regular contact with owners or key operating staff of commercial vendors.  As at Level 6-3, the appellant’s work assignments involve meetings held in unstructured settings and cover a wide range of topics, with the roles and authorities of the contacts developed during the course of the discussions.  The setting, authority, and variety of his contacts are consistent with Level 6-3.

The position’s regular and recurring contacts do not meet Level 6-4.  He does not routinely have contact with high-ranking officials from outside the Command.  He occasionally participates in meetings and symposia, where he communicates with high-ranking officials from outside the Command but the contacts are not regular and recurring and are best characterized as informational in nature.  Unlike Level 6-4, the appellant also does not have contact with Congressional members and key staff; senior corporate officials; key representatives from national and international organizations; officials from other Federal agencies such as heads of major field activities or commands and bureau-level heads; or the equivalent.  Although he has regular contact with vendor owners and executives, the vendors are normally small- to medium-sized businesses and thus smaller in size and scope than that described at Level 6-4, which anticipates contact with corporate officials and key representatives of major firms, national and international organizations, or the equivalent.

Level 6-3 is credited for 60 points.

Factor 7, Purpose of Contacts

The purpose of contacts ranges from factual exchanges of information to situations involving significant or controversial issues and differing viewpoints, goals, or objectives.  Personal contacts serving as the basis for the level selected for this factor must be the same as the contacts serving as the basis for the level selected for Factor 6.

At Level 7-3, contacts are to obtain agreement on previously determined goals and objectives through negotiation, persuasion, and advocacy.  The individuals or groups are frequently uncooperative, have different negotiation objectives, or represent divergent interests.  The employee must be skillful in dealing with such persons to obtain the desired effect, such as obtaining compliance with procurement requirements through persuasion, or obtaining reasonable prices, terms, or settlements for the Government through negotiation.  Typical contacts at this level include working with project officers to plan a procurement strategy for program objectives; negotiating with contractors to meet objectives established in a prenegotiation plan or to obtain a contractual agreement that is in the best interest of the Government; or negotiating postaward modifications, termination settlements, pricing or other actions; influencing contracting officers or other specialists to adopt contractual positions about which there are conflicting options or interest; or justifying contractual approaches to higher level reviewing officials.

At Level 7-4, contacts are to justify, defend, negotiate, or settle matters involving significant or controversial issues, or problems which require escalation because established channels and procedures have failed to resolve the problem.  Negotiations at this level involve procurements of considerable consequence and importance, such as major and other large systems acquisition programs, negotiation with management representatives of other agencies, or representatives of foreign governments or international organizations.  The employee is responsible for justifying and defending the agency position when the issues are strongly contested because of their impact or breadth.  Contract administration or termination settlements at this level involve the resolution of very difficult or complicated issues, such as settlement of contracts which have significant adverse impact on the contractor’s financial posture or allocation of controversial corporate overhead expenses.  Employees at this level also serve on contract review boards at the departmental or independent agency level which advise on and approve, or recommend approval of, procurement actions involving major and other significant systems or programs.  Persons contacted typically have diverse viewpoints, goals, or objectives, requiring the employee to achieve a common understanding of the problems and a satisfactory solution by convincing them, arriving at compromise, or developing suitable alternatives.  The employee assumes the lead in contract negotiations involving major and other large systems or programs, in resolving disagreements or disputes between prime and subcontractors, and/or in effecting a compromise or developing acceptable alternatives.

The agency credited the appellant’s position at Level 7-4, but we find his position meets Level 7-3 instead.  As at Level 7-3, his regular contacts with commercial vendors and contracting or procurement staff involve, e.g., negotiating reasonable prices, terms, and settlements; explaining contract provisions and specification requirements; and influencing vendors, company representatives, and other contracting staff to adopt strategies in the best interest of the Government.  The parties involved frequently have different negotiation objectives and represent conflicting interests as described at Level 7-3.

The purpose of the appellant’s contacts does not meet Level 7-4.  He regularly meets with vendor owners and executives, but these contacts are for the purpose of negotiating and obtaining agreement with contract terms and do not normally involve the contentious conditions described at Level 7-4.  Although dealing with sensitive and/or controversial issues, the appellant does not lead or conduct negotiations of such magnitude that segments of the local or national economy are impacted, or of such significance involving large or major system acquisition programs to be of concern to the media as expected at Level 7-4.

Level 7-3 is credited for 120 points.

Factor 8, Physical Demands

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

Similar to Level 8-1, the appellant’s work is primarily sedentary and does not involve any special physical effort.  Some work may require periods of walking, bending, carrying of light items, or driving an automobile.  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.

Similar to Level 9-1, the appellant’s work environment consists of an adequately lit, heated, and ventilated area.  His work involves the everyday risks or discomforts of an office or automobile setting and requires normal safety precautions.  Level 9-1 is credited for 5 points.

Factor Level Points
1.  Knowledge Required by the Position 1-8 1550
2.  Supervisory Controls 2-4 450
3.  Guidelines 3-4 450
4.  Complexity 4-5 325
5.  Scope and Effect 5-5 325
6.  Personal Contacts 6-3 60
7.  Purpose of Contacts 7-3 120
8.  Physical Demands 8-1 5
9.  Work Environment 9-1 5
Total 3,290


A total of 3,290 points falls within the GS-13 range (3,155 to 3,600) on the grade conversion table in the PCS.


The appellant’s supervisory work is evaluated at the GS-14 level while his personally performed work is evaluated at the GS-13 level.  Based on application of the mixed grade position criteria as stated in chapter 5 of The Classifier’s Handbook, the final grade of his position is GS-14.


The appellant’s position is properly classified as Supervisory Contract Specialist, GS-1102-14.


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