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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

Timothy Jefferies
Program Analyst
GS-343-13
Policy Office
Bureau of Justice Assistance
Office of Justice Programs
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.
Grants Management Specialist,
GS-1109-13
C-1109-13-01

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

04/22/2015


Date

As provided in section 511.612 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, this decision constitutes a certificate that is mandatory and binding on all administrative, certifying, payroll, disbursing, and accounting officials of the Government.  The agency is responsible for reviewing its classification decisions for identical, similar, or related positions to ensure consistency with this decision.  There is no right of further appeal.  This decision is subject to discretionary review only under conditions and time limits specified in the Introduction to the Position Classification Standards (Introduction), appendix 4, section G (address provided in appendix 4, section H).

Since this decision changes the classification of the appealed position, it is to be effective no later than the beginning of the fourth pay period after the date of this decision (5 CFR 511.702). The servicing human resources office must submit a compliance report containing the corrected position description and a Standard Form 50 showing the personnel action taken.  Since position descriptions must meet the standard of adequacy in the Introduction, section III.E, the appellant’s position description must also be revised, as discussed in this decision.  The report must be submitted within 30 days from the effective date of the personnel action.

Introduction

On July 29, 2014, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) accepted a position classification appeal from Mr. Timothy E. Jeffries.  His position is currently classified as Program Analyst, GS-343-13, but he believes his duties and responsibilities warrant upgrading his position to the GS-14 grade level.  The appellant’s position is located in the Policy Office, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in Washington, D.C.  We received the complete agency administrative report (AAR) on August 27, 2014.  We accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112(b) of Title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

Background                                                                            

In 2012, the appellant’s servicing human resources department conducted a position review because the appellant believed there had been substantive change in his assigned work.  Based on its review, the agency sustained the original, and current, classification determination of Program Analyst, GS-343-13.  The appellant asserts that the agency classification determination “did not accurately reflect [his] scope of work and was a misrepresentation in some areas by minimizing [his] high level working relationships, national scope work products, and broad reaching effect on program creation to improve the criminal justice system.”                          

General issues

The appellant compares his duties to a former GS-14 Senior Policy Advisor for Substance Abuse and Mental Health to support his request that his position be upgraded.  Additionally, the appellant writes in his appeal that “[he] believe[s] it was management’s intention not to post the Senior Policy Advisor Position as they continued to assign additional duties in retaliation from settling a former EEO complaint.”  In adjudicating this appeal, our responsibility is to make our own independent decision on the proper classification of the position.  By law, we must make that decision solely by comparing the appellant’s current duties and responsibilities to OPM position classification standards (PCS) and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  Since comparison to OPM PCSs and guidelines is the exclusive method for classifying positions, we cannot compare the appellant’s current duties to other positions which may or may not have been classified properly as a basis for deciding his appeal.  By law, the establishment of positions (5 U.S.C. 5102(a) (3)) and the assignment of work to positions (5 U.S.C. 302), is vested in agency management and is not reviewable under or germane to the position classification appeal process.

In reaching our classification decision, we have carefully reviewed all information of record furnished by the appellant and the agency, including his official position description (PD) number UA053.  Additionally, we conducted an audit with the appellant on January 21, 2015, and interviewed the appellant’s supervisor on February 10, 2015, to further gather information concerning the duties and responsibilities of the position, which we fully considered in this decision.  

Position information

The BJA, a component of the OJP, DOJ, provides leadership and services in grant administration and criminal justice policy development to support local, State, and tribal justice strategies to achieve safer communities.  The BJA supports programs and initiatives in the areas of law enforcement, justice information sharing, managing offenders, combating drug crime and abuse, adjudication, advancing tribal justice, crime prevention, protecting vulnerable populations, and capacity building. 

The BJA is organized into four primary components: Programs Office, Policy Office, Planning Office, and the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Office.  The appellant works in the Policy Office, which acts as a national leader for criminal justice policy, training, and technical assistance to advance the direction of justice.  It also acts as a connecting point with national organizations to set policy and help broadcast information on best practices.  The appellant serves as an analyst and policy advisor for two key substance abuse intervention programs administered through the BJA.  These two programs are the Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program and the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program (RSAT).  The Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program (42 U.S.C. 3797u et seq.) provides financial and technical assistance to States, State Courts, local courts, units of local government, and Indian tribal governments to develop and implement treatment drug courts that effectively integrate evidence-based substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and transitional services in a judicially-supervised court setting with jurisdiction over nonviolent, substance-abusing offenders.  The RSAT program (42 U.S.C § 3796ff-1(e)), a smaller program in terms of work responsibilities for the appellant, helps States and units of local government develop, implement, and improve treatment programs in State and local correctional and detention facilities.  The program also helps State and local correctional and detention facilities create and maintain community-based aftercare services for probationers and parolees.  Within these assigned areas of responsibility, the appellant serves as an advisor and technical expert to providers in the field, interpreting the policies, procedures, and practices governing the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program and the RSAT program.      

According to the appellant, and confirmed by his immediate supervisor, the appellant’s primary responsibility, and performed by the appellant a preponderant amount of the time, is providing oversight and guidance to providers through cooperative agreements to deliver training and technical assistance (TTA) to the Drug Court and RSAT field.  Providing guidance to providers delivering TTA is a core service provided by BJA.  Technical assistance providers offer a wide range of assistance services to drug courts, Veterans Courts, Mental Health Courts, and other problem solving court programs that focus on services to substance abusing offenders to promote improved program effectiveness and long-term participant success.  TTA is a way to ensure that BJA-funded programs are based on research and best practices and implemented with fidelity.  BJA believes that when it delivers quality TTA with a strategic focus, the assistance provided can have a more powerful long-term impact than direct financial support of programs. 

Another significant part of the appellant’s position is the review and management of two drug court discretionary grant solicitations.  According to the appellant, these two solicitations yield more than 250 applications annually for assistance with States and local court substance abuse treatment needs.  More information about the appellant’s contributions to the solicitations is discussed later in this decision.  The appellant’s PD of record provides an accurate and more detailed description of his duties and responsibilities, and we incorporate it by reference into this decision.

Series determination

The agency has placed the appellant’s position in the Management and Program Analysis Series, GS-343.  The GS-343 series covers positions that primarily serve as analysts and advisors to management on the evaluation of the effectiveness of government programs and operations or the productivity and efficiency of the management of Federal agencies or both.  Positions in this series require knowledge of: agency programs and activities; agency missions, policies, and objectives; management principles and processes; and the analytical and evaluative methods and techniques for assessing program development or execution and improving organizational effectiveness and efficiency.  Some positions also require an understanding of basic budgetary and financial management principles and techniques as they relate to long-range planning of programs and objectives.  The work requires skill in the application of fact-finding and investigative techniques, oral and written communications, and development of presentations and reports. 

Based on information obtained during the interviews, and having carefully reviewed the documentation in the appeal file, we find the appellant’s work is properly assigned to the Grants Management Series, GS-1109.  Although the appellant’s analytical and evaluative work is similar to some GS-343 program analysis work, positions in the GS-343 series typically evaluate their agencies’ own internal operating programs, whereas the appellant spends a preponderant amount of time on external operations; i.e., tracking grantee data and providing training and technical assistance oversight to providers in the field.  As explained in the Introduction to the Position Classification Standards and The Classifier’s Handbook (Handbook), the proper series is determined based on the primary work of the position, the paramount qualifications required, sources of recruitment and line of progression, the reason for establishing the position, and the background knowledge required.  During our interviews, both the appellant and his immediate supervisor stated that providing training and technical assistance to providers in the field are primary duties for the appealed position and occupy most of the appellant’s work time throughout a given year.  Such work, and several other duties performed by the appellant, is consistent with the typical duties listed in the flysheet for the GS-1109 series.  Typical GS-1109 duties include:  providing training, technical assistance, oversight, and consultation to program officials, awardees, review panels, applicants, recipients, and sub-recipients as needed; soliciting applications or proposals for funding under assistance awards; overseeing, reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating grants/assistance applications; conducting liaison with external customers, recipients, and awardee community to clarify, interpret, and resolve issues; cooperating and conducting liaison with Federal agencies, organizations, and academic institutions in developing, reviewing, and evaluating the impact of new statutory regulations; and recommending or initiating appropriate action to protect Government interests.    

Our determination is also consistent with guidance found in the Handbook which states when the work of a position matches more than one occupation, the organization mission and/or function can be used as a guideline to determine the appropriate series for classification purposes.  The BJA's mission is to provide leadership and services in grant administration and criminal justice policy development to support local, State, and tribal justice strategies to achieve safer communities.  As a result, we find that the GS-1109 series definition and occupational information closely align with BJA’s mission and function.  Accordingly, the appellant’s position is correctly classified in the GS-1109 series.    

Title and standard determination

The authorized titled for nonsupervisory positions in this series is Grants Management Specialist.  The GS-1109 standard does not provide grade-level criteria.  The GS-1109 series flysheet instructs that positions in this series are to be evaluated using the grade-level criteria contained in the Contracting Series, GS-1102, position classification standard (PCS).

Grade determination

The PCS for the GS-1102 series is written in the Factor Evaluation System (FES) format, which uses nine factors.  Under the FES, each factor-level description in a PCS describes the minimum characteristics needed to receive credit for the described level.  Therefore, if a position fails to meet the criteria in a factor-level description in any significant aspect, it must be credited at a lower level unless an equally important aspect that meets a higher level balances the deficiency.  Conversely, the position may exceed those criteria in some aspects and still not be credited at a higher level.  The GS-1102 PCS also includes benchmarks describing typical work situations in the occupation at various grade levels.  These benchmarks include descriptions and illustrations of the nine factors and the associated factor levels.  The PCS notes that they may be used to evaluate a position under the various factors if the duties described in the benchmark are comparable to those being evaluated.

Factor 1, Knowledge Required by the Position

This factor covers the kind and nature of knowledge and skills needed and how they are used in doing the work.

The agency credited level 1-8; the appellant seeks to have his work under this factor credited at Level 1-9.

At Level 1-8, work requires:

A:        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,

B.        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.   

Level 1-8 is met.  Equivalent to that level, the appellant applies mastery-level knowledge of Federal grant solicitation, funding, and awarding principles as they relate to the substance abuse intervention programs.  His position has prepared and equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a subject-matter expert to the BJA and the Adult Drug Court field.  The appellant’s familiarity with key project documentation, such as grant applications, award packages, progress reports, and grantee reports allows him to plan and carry out preaward and/or postaward actions.  The appellant has correspondingly mastered the programs' essential technical requirements such that he delivers, or arranges for the delivery of, TTA for partner organizations to improve the quality and long-term effectiveness of the program.    

Factor-level illustrations are provided in the GS-1102 standard to give insight into the meaning of the factor-level descriptions.  The following illustrations of Level 1-8 knowledge requirements are provided in the PCS:

Preaward

-- Knowledge and skill sufficient to manage all contractual aspects of a major program involving coordination of a number of contracts. This requires long-range procurement planning; a thorough knowledge of the program objectives, scheduling, and interrelationships with other programs; and skill in interpreting policies to solve unprecedented problems.

Postaward

-- Knowledge of postaward procedures sufficient to administer complex service contracts which require day-to-day negotiations of significant contract changes, monitoring numerous special provisions, coordinating extensive subcontracting involvement, and observing rigid time frames.

Staff

-- Knowledge and skill sufficient to provide expert technical leadership, staff coordination, and consultation in a functional area of procurement (e.g., preaward or price/cost analysis) including responsibility for formulating guidelines, implementing new developments, and providing policy interpretation to subordinate contracting activities.

Similar to the Level 1-8 preaward illustration, the appellant applies knowledge and skill sufficient to draft grant solicitations for his program areas and manage select aspects of that solicitation.  He assists with crafting overarching themes and adding key requirements to the solicitation.  For example, the Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program Competitive Grant Announcement requires applicants to submit a Time Task Plan with their applications.  This Time Task Plan, which the appellant is directly responsible for adding to the solicitation, should outline when goals and objectives will be met over the project period, and summarize major activities, responsible agencies, and expected completion dates for the principal tasks required to implement and manage the drug court program.    

Similar to the Level 1-8 staff illustration, the appellant applies knowledge and skill sufficient to provide expert technical leadership.  He is a technical authority within the BJA regarding drug courts.  He has a thorough knowledge of the program’s objectives and serves as a policy advisor to management.  He plays a key role in interpreting policy and answers substantive questions from potential applicants, outside agencies, other BJA offices, and training and technical assistance providers.  For example, when BJA’s Program Office, the office responsible for providing customer-focused grants management support, has questions concerning Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program policy, he is often called upon to provide policy interpretation and guidance.                

At Level 1-9, work requires mastery of contracting laws, principles, and regulations to generate new procurement concepts or to plan and manage or review and recommend to top management approval of procurements for the largest and newest or similarly critical agency systems or programs within a major industry or industries, typically characterized by most or all of the following:

(1)        Uncertainties involving the legislation, authorities, and scope of the program resulting from intense 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;

(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 position does not fully meet Level 1-9.  There is no evidence that the appellant’s work typically involves uncertainties involving the legislation, authorities, and scope of the program resulting from intense Congressional interest.  Drug courts have been operating in the United States for more than 20 years, and their effectiveness is well documented.  The appellant faces few, if any, unprecedented issues (e.g., stemming from the newness or complexity of the system or program) which require the origination of innovations, concepts, or principles.  His work, as presented, does not require him to generate new solicitation concepts or to plan and manage or review and recommend to top management approval of solicitations for the largest and newest programs within a major industry or industries.  The Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program and the RSAT, while important in their own right, are not 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.  Rather, as typical of Level 1-8, the appellant extends existing program techniques and advises on program policies for use by other personnel in solving program issues for his assigned technical program areas.             

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.  The agency assigned Level 2-4 under this factor. The appellant believes that Level 2-5 should be credited because he rarely reports to his supervisor for guidance, develops agendas independently, and receives only general oversight from the supervisor.   

At Level 2-4, an employee receives assignments from a supervisor in terms of overall objectives and resources available.  The employee and supervisor jointly develop deadlines, projects, and the nature of the planned assignments.  The employee is responsible for planning and carrying out the assignment including resolving most problems that occur, coordinating the work with others, interpreting policy, determining the approach to be taken, and selecting the methods and techniques to be employed.  Completed work is reviewed in terms of meeting program objectives, responsiveness, and conformance to agency policy.

Level 2-4 is met.  The appellant’s first-line supervisor is a GS-15 Supervisory Program Manager.  Her organizational title is Associate Deputy Director for Policy.  She and the appellant meet weekly to discuss program matters, upcoming meetings, conferences, and/or seminars, priorities, timelines, and anything else relevant to the programs.  Similar to Level 2-4, the supervisor typically sets the overall objectives and resources available; however, the appellant independently plans and carries out the assignments, such as determining the approach to be taken or methodology to be used.  The appellant initiates necessary coordination with Federal partners, technical assistance providers, and colleagues, typically independent of his supervisor.  The appellant attends meetings with Federal partners such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, also independent of his supervisor.  The appellant obtains necessary program information and supporting documentation independently (e.g., information about drug treatment modalities, research regarding drug court program effectiveness, grant applications and similar requirements).  He provides technical leadership and expertise for the drug court program.  The appellant may exchange program information alone, but he keeps his supervisor informed of progress, potentially controversial conflicts or issues which arise, or matters which affect policy or have other far-reaching implications.   

The GS-1102-13 benchmark #1 describes supervisory controls as assigning work in terms of overall procurement programs to be accomplished.  The employee, in consultation with the supervisor, establishes and executes a work schedule, insuring that the necessary planning, coordination, approvals, negotiation, and other requirements are completed in a timely manner so as not to delay award of any assigned contracts.  He/she establishes clear objectives and necessary priorities to achieve these objectives, submits negotiation plans to the supervisor or higher levels for review prior to negotiation, conducts negotiations independently, and advises supervisors of potential problems or slippages in the program.  The work review is made through status reports prepared by the employee and used primarily by management to keep informed.  The appellant’s supervisory controls are a strong parallel to this benchmark description.                     

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 time frames.  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. 

Level 2-5 is not met.  At this level, employees are responsible for designing the plans and strategies by which broad projects, studies, or other major functions will be undertaken.  Decisions made by employees under administrative direction at Level 2-5 are generally afforded the full weight of agency policy once they are implemented.  By contrast, the appellant implements the agency policies, priorities, and procedures directed by higher-level officials.  Unlike Level 2-5, the appellant is not delegated responsibility for major programs and does not direct or control a staff or a budget.  Resource priorities are set by the appellant’s supervisor.  For example, major program changes, such as the reallocation of appropriations, is discussed with, and decided by, the supervisor and/or other agency officials.  Anything that goes public, such as grant solicitations or funding recommendations which, according to the supervisor, are the appellant’s main deliverables, are reviewed not only by the appellant’s supervisor, but also by OJP’s Assistant Attorney General.  The appellant then implements those decisions and continuing functions at the operating level to achieve program objectives and priorities determined at higher echelons in the agency.  Although the appellant's supervisor does not routinely provide technical guidance to the appellant, he is required to determine whether his performance meets defined goals.  

Our Level 2-4 determination is consistent with interpretive guidance found in OPM’s Digest of Significant Classification Decisions and Opinions (Digest).  Digest articles summarize significant interpretations that clarify the underlying intent of the classification or job grading standards.  Digest No. 7 (August 1985), referenced in the GS-1102 PCS, describes the appropriateness of Level 2-5.  It states, typically, this level of authority is accompanied by responsibility for a significant program or function, etc., and that neither the absence of immediate supervision in day-to-day operations, nor the fact that technical recommendations are normally accepted, serves to support a level above Level 2-4.  Level 2-5 requires significantly greater independence and responsibility than the appellant is actually delegated.

Level 2-4 is credited for 450 points.

Factor 3, Guidelines

This factor covers the nature of guidelines and the judgment needed to apply them.  Individual jobs vary in the specificity, applicability and availability of the guidelines for performance of assignments.  Consequently, the constraints and judgmental demands placed upon employees also vary.  While the lack of guidelines may require the exercise of considerable judgment, judgment is also required in the interpretation of the plethora of guidelines which is typical of procurement work. 

The existence of an abundance of guidelines may require the exercise of extensive judgment and discretion by procurement personnel.  First, they must know all relevant guidelines on a procurement issue.  Second, they must know which guidelines are mandatory and which are discretionary and subject to deviation and interpretation.  Third, they must resolve inconsistencies and ambiguities.  Fourth, when guidelines are stated in general terms outlining end results, they must exercise considerable latitude of judgment in selecting the means to achieve those end results.  Finally, procurement personnel deal in business transactions.  Each of these transactions is different and procurement personnel must constantly assess the impact of applicable guidelines on each transaction.

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. At Level 3-4, 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.

Level 3-4 is met.  Comparable to this level, policies and precedents are available to some extent, although they require considerable adaptation and/or interpretation for application to issues and problems studied.  The RSAT and Drug Courts are specialized programs which often consist of jurisdictional differences, modifications in treatment, and fresh trends.  Program models are still evolving.  Therefore, guidelines can often be inadequate in dealing with problems and cause the appellant to use ingenuity and originality.  For example, over the past few years, the treatment of substance use disorders has entered into a new phase in which medications can play a vital role in helping someone recover.  There are no guidelines available for the appellant to incorporate treatments like this into existing programs.  However, he has devised new approaches to instruct TTA providers to develop work products and training to educate Drug Court and RSAT practitioners to become more aware of these latest trends.  The appellant states that no guidelines exist for many of his duties such as convening and participating in task forces and meetings, reviewing grantee performance measures, and providing program information to partner agencies and the field.  Likewise, speaking to his grant solicitation duties, the focus of the solicitations may vary from year to year based on research priorities and available funding; therefore, guidelines are not available.    

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.

Level 3-5 is not met.  Nothing in the record suggests that the appellant is a recognized authority who develops guidelines, policies, regulations, and/or legislation.   Rather, like Level 3-4, he extends guides, techniques, and approaches in devising terms and conditions for grant applications for his assigned programs in an effort to extend the use of best practices to achieve safer communities.   

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.

This includes the interrelationships between procurement functions which can be considered, such as type of contract and special provisions, and the program needs which must be identified and analyzed, such as technical requirements and prices. However, the program requirements must clearly affect the difficulty of the procurement functions to be credited.  For example, a contract may include requirements for a highly complex product or service, but the procurement method may be relatively simple or standardized, such as a formally advertised, firm fixed-price contract.

At Level 4-5, the work is characterized by: (a) breadth of planning and coordination, or depth of problem identification and analysis, stemming from the variety of the procurement functions or from the unknowns, changes or conflicts inherent in the issues; or (b) responsibility as team leader or project officer for a significant procurement assignment.  Decisions at this level involve responsiveness to continuing changes in programs or technological developments.  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 based on sound business judgment that are in the best interest of the Government.  Procurements typically require new or modified contract terms and conditions, funding arrangements, or policy interpretation throughout the preaward and postaward phases.  For example, specialists administering major procurements, in dealing with problems of contractor performance, are required to develop new financial arrangements and accelerated delivery schedules to support program needs.  Terminations involve settlements of contracts involving work performed over several years, or settling claims of a variety of prime contractors.  Representative staff assignments include conducting program review of a wide range of procurement functions performed by subordinate activities.     

Level 4-5 is met.  The appellant’s duties and responsibilities related to preparing solicitations and evaluating proposals involve substantial planning and coordination.  Preparing solicitations involves drafting the solicitation package that will convey all of the information to potential providers.  The process for selecting TTA providers and drug court grantees includes a technical and programmatic review of the initial material, a peer review involving analysis and evaluation, and finally a recommendation for an award or a declination of funding. 

The appellant possesses a broad knowledge of the drug court and RSAT program infrastructures and is responsible for the review and management of existing grantee data results, known internally as the Grantstat review, to enhance BJA program strategies and outcomes.  This review rates and scores all current grantees based on their spending patterns, number of budget concerns, and compliance with technical assistance provider outreach and analysis.  The appellant is also responsible for quarterly review and analysis of the TTA providers’ performance metrics entered into the Training and Technical Assistance Reporting (TTARS) system.  All of this performance data lets the BJA know if it is on- or off-track in regard to meeting its targets.  Analyzing the data allows the appellant to diagnose problems, recognize evidence-based practices, identify drivers of future performance, and support collaboration, indicative of the breadth of planning and coordination and depth of problem identification and analysis found at Level 4-5. 

At Level 4-6, the work consists of broad contracting functions and activities.  Assignments are characterized by broad and intense efforts, and involve several phases being pursued concurrently or sequentially with the support of technical, procurement, program, and management personnel within and outside the organization.  For example, contract specialists evaluate acquisition strategies for major systems or programs; develop guidance for contracting staff to follow throughout the contracting process involving major systems or programs; or advise program managers and staff with respect to the development of integrated acquisition strategies for a number of procurements supporting major agency programs.  The specific procurement issues are largely undefined and require extensive analysis and evaluation to identify the scope of the problems and to reach decisions on appropriate courses of action.  The work concerns areas where little or no established practices or precedents are available to assist in problem solving, where progress is difficult, and where new techniques and approaches need to be devised.  For example, preparation of the solicitation package requires extensive analysis, development of formal plans including documentation from a variety of disciplines, and development of methods for controlling and auditing incentive criteria. Work at Level 4-6 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.  For example, contract specialists initiate action to modify acquisition strategies, including the development of further sources and the award of additional contracts to other firms, to supplement delivery of essential components for major systems or programs when critical technical and schedule difficulties are encountered by the prime contractor.  

Level 4-6 is not met.  Nothing in the record suggests that the appellant develops guidance for other staff to follow throughout a process involving major systems or programs as envisioned at this level.  None of the appellant’s responsibilities are of the magnitude or complexity expected at Level 4-6 and thus do not require the development of “new concepts, theories, or programs which will influence the procedures and ideas of others, or resolve unyielding problems.”   Rather, like Level 4-5, his decisions involve responsiveness to continuing changes in programs and technological developments such as treatment modalities and policing approaches within the parameters of major program changes, such as the reallocation of appropriations, decided on by the supervisor and/or other higher-level agency officials.   

Level 4-5 is credited for 325 points.

Factor 5, Scope and Effect

This factor covers the relationship between the purpose, breadth, and depth of the assignment and considers the impact of the work products or services both within and outside the organization.  The agency assigned Level 5-4 under this factor.  The appellant believes that Level 5-6 should be credited because “[his] actions have contributed to the development, and implementation of vital administrative and scientific programming for millions of substance abusing clients.” 

At Level 5-4, the purpose of the work is to provide expertise as a specialist in a functional area of contracting by furnishing advisory, planning, or reviewing services on specific problems, projects, or programs.  Assignments involving contract negotiation, award, administration, or termination frequently carry contracting officer authority within prescribed money limits for all or most contractual actions.  Examples include: (1) planning, coordinating, and/or leading negotiations for a variety of complex contracts, contract modifications, or termination actions, e.g., those which accommodate possible changes in program requirements, involve subcontractors, require accounting for Government equipment, or involve consolidated requirements for several agencies or departments; (2) formulating approaches to procurement problems or issues when the problems require extensive analysis of a variety of unusual conditions, questions, or issues; (3) establishing procedures for implementing procurement policies or regulations; (4) conducting in-depth analyses of contractors' financial and management systems and facilities for ability to perform or for compliance with Government or contractual requirements; or (5) planning and conducting program evaluations of subordinate procurement activities.  The work product affects a wide range of procurement activities, such as the operation of procurement programs in various offices or locations, or the accomplishment of significant procurement or technical program goals; affects the timely support of other departments or agencies; affects contractor's operations or management systems; has a significant economic impact on contractors or on their respective geographic areas; or similar impact.

Level 5-4 is met.  Serving as a lead for the BJA in the administration of its Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, the appellant provides expertise through planning, coordinating, and recommending how Federal discretionary grant awards are allocated within established parameters.  Within the bureau, the appellant’s work products directly impact the Program and Planning Offices.  For example, any grant recommendation he makes that is approved will affect the Programs Office, as they are responsible for providing customer-focused grants management support and careful stewardship over federal funds.  The Planning Office provides overall BJA-wide planning and coordination, including coordination of communications, budget formulation and execution, contract management, performance measurement, and administrative support.  The work the appellant does in terms of identifying effective program models and making funding recommendations will affect the Planning Office’s budget formulation and other practices.  Outside of the organization, the appellant’s work products (e.g., solicitation announcements and funding recommendations) affect a wide range of program activities, such as the operation of various State and local drug court programs and Federal partners.       

A significant part of the appellant’s position is managing a team of training and technical assistance providers that deliver services to the field.  The appellant’s policy advice and guidance given to the providers directly affect their operations and procedures.  The appellant’s collaborative research work (e.g., the Research to Practice initiative work with NIJ[1]) affects grant applicants and drug court teams throughout the country.  The appellant’s work also facilitates professional collaborations between the BJA and treatment/public health systems.  In the broadest sense, the appellant’s involvement in BJA work products has the ability to touch judicial officers, substance abusers, law enforcement, veterans, and others involved with the drug court program and its communities.    

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 involves such functions as planning, negotiating, or administering procurements for long-term systems or programs, with delegated final authority to obligate funds; developing innovative contractual arrangements to resolve critical or unusual procurement problems; establishing or advocating positions for the region, agency, or department on major procurement issues; developing procurement regulations for use by other contracting specialists; or performing other comparable work.  The work affects 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; or the accomplishment of major procurements.    

Level 5-5 is not met.  While the appellant’s funding recommendations are normally accepted for awarding grants involving sizeable expenditures of staff and funds, he is not delegated final authority to obligate funds.  He does not develop innovative contractual arrangements to resolve critical or unusual problems, nor does he develop regulations for use by other specialists.      

Level 5-4 is credited for 225 points.

Factor 6, Personal Contacts

This factor measures face-to-face contacts and telephone dialogue with persons not in the supervisory chain. The agency evaluated this factor at Level 6-3, but the appellant believes it should be Level 6-4 due to his personal contacts at high levels.  The relationship between Factors 6 and 7 presumes that the same contacts will be evaluated for both factors.

At Level 6-3, personal contacts include a variety of 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.

Level 6-3 is met.  The appellant has personal contacts with individuals from both inside and outside his agency to discuss program issues and activities.  His internal contacts generally include program analysts, program managers, Office of General Counsel attorneys, the bureau Deputy Director, bureau Director, etc.  For example, he often collaborates with colleagues as part of BJA’s peer review process, which serves to ensure that the highest-quality applications are funded.  Externally, the appellant encourages partnerships and collaborations across all levels of government, private profit and nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and the advocacy community in policy development, grant solicitations, grant programs, and training and technical assistance efforts.  His contacts generally include State and local criminal justice organizations, State and local government drug court representatives, substance abuse program directors, agencies that partner with BJA, and training and technical assistance providers.             

At Level 6-4, personal contacts include 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.

Level 6-4 is not met.  The appellant has not presented any information that suggests he has regular contacts with Congressional members, senior corporate officials, or the like characterized by problems described at this level.  The appellant states that he participates in numerous high-level federal partner leadership meetings and that he has worked directly with BJA leadership and key researchers/federal partners in the field of substance abuse for the last three years.  Although the appellant asserts that he has high-level contacts with officials from other agencies during meetings and conferences, he does not have personal individualized contacts with these officials for the purpose or type of problem resolutions described at Level 7-4. 

This factor is evaluated at level 6-3 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.  The personal contacts which serve as the basis for the level selected for this factor must be the same as the contacts 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; 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.

Level 7-3 is met.  The appellant regularly persuades officials or managers to adopt and implement findings and recommendations established for organizational improvement and/or program effectiveness.  At times he may be met with resistance due to organizational conflict, resource problems, or competing objectives.  He must therefore be skillful in negotiation dealings.  His position also requires him to develop longstanding productive partnerships with people and organizations in the field.  Most of the appellant’s dealings with other agencies are for information and strategy sharing purposes; however, occasionally his dealings with SAMHSA may involve negotiation tactics.  For example, if BJA and SAMHSA are working on a joint solicitation, the appellant may need to negotiate how much money BJA can put into the solicitation and which priorities it should take the lead on.       

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 problem 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.

Level 7-4 is not met.  The record is devoid of any evidence that suggests the appellant’s contacts are characterized by the types of problems or complications described at this level.  Negotiations and settlements described at this level, if necessary, would not be made by the appellant, but rather by higher-level management officials within the bureau or agency.    

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 assignment. This includes physical characteristics and abilities (e.g., specific agility and dexterity requirements) and the physical exertion involved in the work (e.g., climbing, lifting, pushing, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, or reaching).  To some extent the frequency or intensity of physical exertion must also be considered; e.g., a job requiring prolonged standing involves more physical exertion than a job requiring intermittent standing.

At Level 8-1, the work is sedentary.  Typically, the employee may sit comfortably to do the work. However, there is occasional walking, standing, bending, carrying light items such as reports or files, or driving an automobile.  No special physical demands are required to perform the work.

Level 8-1 is met.  The appellant’s work is primarily sedentary, although some walking, bending, or carrying of light items may be involved.

At Level 8-2, the work requires some physical exertion, such as walking over rough, uneven, or rocky surfaces of the type found at construction sites or other outdoor facilities which the contract specialist must visit on a regular and recurring basis, or conducting intensive negotiations for extended periods of time; i.e., four hours or longer without rest periods, and occasionally late in the evening.  Some agility is required in walking around or over building materials, excavation sites, and heavy equipment.  Conducting intensive negotiation requires specific, but common physical characteristics and abilities such as above average resistance to fatigue.

Level 8-2 is not met.  The appellant’s position does not require the type of physical exertion described at this level.  

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.  Although the use of safety precautions can practically eliminate a certain danger or discomfort, such situations typically place additional demands upon the employee in carrying out safety regulations and techniques.

At Level 9-1, the work environment involves everyday risks or discomforts which require normal safety precautions typical of such places as conference rooms or offices, commercial vehicles; e.g., use of safe work practices with office equipment, avoidance of trips or falls, observance of fire regulations, traffic signals, safe driving practices, and similar practices.

Level 9-1 is met.  The appellant’s work environment involves everyday risks or discomforts that require normal safety precautions typical of offices, meeting rooms, training rooms, etc.  The work area is adequately lighted, heated, and ventilated.    

At Level 9-2, the work involves moderate risks or discomforts on a regular and recurring basis which require special safety precautions; e.g., visiting or working in industrial plants or test environments where hazards are present such as machines, moving equipment, chemicals, noise, vibrations, hazardous or extreme weather conditions, or comparable situations.  The employee is required to use protective clothing or gear, such as masks, gowns, coats, boots, hardhats, goggles, gloves, or shields.

Level 9-2 is not met.  The appellant’s work environment is not of the type described at this level.       

Level 9-1 is credited for 5 points.

Summary
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 5-4 225
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 3,190

 

The total of 3190 points falls within the GS-13 grade range (3155-3600 points) on the grade conversion table in the GS-1102 PCS. 

Decision

The appellant’s position is properly classified as Grants Management Specialist, GS-1109-13.


[1] In 2011, the BJA and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) collaborated to

identify evidence-based components of successful drug court programming that may be used by

program grant applicants and other stakeholders to design more effective programs.

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