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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

Christopher V. Tillman
Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist
GS-1715-9
Rehabilitation Services
Compensated Work Therapy
W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center Salisbury
Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network
VISN 6
Veterans Health Administration
Department of Veterans Affairs
Salisbury, North Carolina
Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist
GS-1715-9
C-1715-09-01

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

05/06/2015


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).

As indicated in this decision, our findings show the appellant’s official position description (PD) does not meet the standard of adequacy described in Section III.E. of the Introduction.  Since PDs must meet the standard of adequacy, the agency must revise the appellant’s PD to reflect our findings.  The servicing human resources office must submit a compliance report containing the corrected PD and a Standard Form 50 showing the personnel action taken.  The report must be submitted within 30 days from the effective date of the personnel action to the Agency Compliance and Evaluation (ACE)-San Francisco office.

Introduction

On August 22, 2014, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) ACE-Atlanta office accepted a classification appeal from Mr. Christopher V. Tillman.  On November 21, 2014, the appeal was transferred to OPM’s ACE-San Francisco office along with the agency’s complete administrative report.  The appellant’s position is currently classified as Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, GS-1715-9, but he believes his duties and responsibilities should be graded at the GS-11 level.  The appellant works in the Rehabilitation Services, Compensated Work Therapy (CWT), W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center Salisbury, Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network-VISN 6, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, in Salisbury, North Carolina.  We have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112(b) of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.). 

General issues

The appellant compares his position to similar but higher-graded Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist positions at his installation.  In adjudicating this appeal, our responsibility is to make our own independent decision on the proper classification of his position.  By law, we must make that decision solely by comparing his current duties and responsibilities to OPM position classification standards (PCS) and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  Since comparison to standards is the exclusive method for classifying positions, we cannot compare the appellant’s position to others, which may or may not be classified correctly, as a basis for deciding his appeal. 

Like OPM, the appellant’s agency must classify positions based on comparison to OPM standards and guidelines.  The agency also has primary responsibility for ensuring that its positions are classified consistently with OPM appeal decisions.  If the appellant considers his position so similar to others that they all warrant the same classification, he may pursue the matter by writing to his agency headquarters human resources office.  In doing so, he should specify the precise organizational location, classification, duties, and responsibilities of the positions in question.  If the positions are found to be basically the same as his, the agency must correct their classification to be consistent with this appeal decision.  Otherwise, the agency should explain to him the differences between his position and the others. 

Position information

Both the appellant and his supervisor agree the appellant’s position description (PD) number 1689 is accurate.  However, we find a portion of the “Major Duties” section is inaccurate in that the appellant does not assist clients to the extent described in obtaining competitive employment in the local community.  The primary purpose of the appellant’s position is to assist veterans, whose employability or job adjustment is impaired, through placement in the agency’s CWT program for up to six months of paid work experience in jobs on the installation campus.  While the appellant may advocate in the community on behalf of particular clients seeking competitive employment, he does not network with local employers to develop jobs for clients, place veterans in those jobs and assist them in adjusting to the workplace, or negotiate with employers on providing reasonable accommodation to meet the needs of clients.  Such tasks are assigned to another Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist in the appellant’s unit who is primarily responsible for external job development, placement and follow-up of eligible veterans.  Therefore, because the appellant’s PD of record does not meet the standard of adequacy addressed on pages 10-11 of the Introduction, the agency must revise the PD to reflect our findings. 

CWT is an agency-wide project focusing on promoting optimal occupational functioning of veterans who have had difficulty obtaining or maintaining employment.  The goal is accomplished in the context of prescribed job development interventions specified in the veteran’s treatment plan.  The appellant provides vocational rehabilitation services via the CWT program specifically for veterans recovering from mental illness and/or alcohol or drug abuse.  In many cases the two conditions are related.  The appellant works closely with the veteran and the clinical treatment team to ensure the veteran’s individual vocational rehabilitation goal is achieved.  He is responsible for coordinating veterans’ treatment and training, and finding work opportunities for them on campus for paid work experience in various jobs within the installation’s services (departments) including the veterans’ cemetery, grounds maintenance, hospital housekeeping, kitchen and food delivery, library, and medical supply warehouse.  Because CWT is an agency-wide mandated program, services are required to participate. 

Working with on-campus service staff, he ascertains the training requirements of positions and considers the physical and mental ability of each veteran client to succeed in a proposed job placement.  Upon placement, the appellant supports and monitors clients in all work related tasks including on-the-job training, dealing with co-workers and supervisors, meeting attendance and work requirements, and ensuring the veteran participates in mandated clinical and addiction therapy as part of his/her overall treatment plan.  He is also responsible for assisting CWT veterans in learning job search skills, writing resumes, and developing interview techniques, including attending local training in those skills offered by Goodwill Industries and the state North Carolina (NC) Works program.  He also performs various administrative duties on behalf of clients such as setting up bank accounts, enrolling veterans in the agency’s payroll system, establishing electronic deposits, collecting and verifying timesheets, and entering hours of work data into the VISTA system and identifying the proper fund control point. 

In reaching our classification decision, we have carefully reviewed all information provided by the appellant and his agency including his official PD which, although not completely accurate, we have incorporated by reference into this decision.  In addition, to help decide the appeal we conducted separate telephone interviews with the appellant and his supervisor (the interim CWT Coordinator). 

Series, title, and standard determination

The agency has classified the appellant’s position in the Vocational Rehabilitation Series, GS-1715, titling it Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, and the appellant does not disagree.  We concur with the agency’s title and series determination.  The GS-1715 PCS contains grading criteria which must be applied to positions in that series.  Therefore, our evaluation of the grade of the position by application of the GS-1715 grading criteria follows. 

Grade determination

The GS-1715 PCS uses two broad categories to reflect major differences in difficulty of types of cases assigned:  regular procedures and special procedures. 

Regular procedures cases are those that involve handicaps that do not pose difficult problems insofar as successful training, placement, and adjustment are concerned.  The kinds of services needed are more clearly apparent, and existing instructions readily provide guidelines. 

Special procedures cases involve individuals so severely handicapped as to present difficulty in motivation, training, placement, or adjustment.  The impairments require closer study and supervision of the case by the specialist and the application of special means and ways of resolving the problems.  Serious problems may stem from such impairments as serious orthopedic impairments; psychiatric disorders requiring especially understanding supervision; disabilities about which there is public misunderstanding, further handicapping the individual, e.g., blindness, epilepsy, etc.; serious emotional disability, with an offender record; and major deficiencies in basic education and job skills, with serious problems of adjustment because of a disadvantaged background. 

The GS-1715 PCS states that some special procedures cases can be ranked as regular procedures cases when no serious problems of training, placement, or adjustment are expected.  For example, the individual possesses a high degree of emotional stability in combination with a superior intelligence level, good motivation, and an occupational objective. 

The GS-1715 PCS uses two classification factors to evaluate positions:  Characteristics of the assignment and Level of responsibility.

Characteristics of the assignment

This factor measures the difficulty of the assignment.  It takes into account the complexity of the problems involved; the knowledge, originality, and judgment required; and other qualifications to perform the work.  Generally, as cases involve impairments of increased severity, in relation to the work demands, difficulty of the specialist’s position increases. 

GS-9 positions involve responsibility for completely carrying through assigned cases.  Typically, the cases assigned to GS-9 specialists are of a regular procedures type, carried out under general supervision.  Some GS-9 positions also involve assignments of selected phases of special procedures cases, under close technical supervision.  GS-9 case assignments of regular procedures cases require the application of up-to-date occupational information such as training facilities, and general outlook for employment for a wide variety of occupations in the commuting areas; specific job opportunities; entrance-level requirements; wages; hours of work, and working conditions as related to physical and mental stress; tools, equipment, and books customarily required by trainees, and costs of such items. 

The emphasis in GS-9 assignments is generally on training and fitting handicapped individuals to the requirements of regularly established kinds of work which they can perform despite their handicap.  This requires that GS-9 specialists give consideration to the limitations imposed by the individual’s impairment.  They apply specialized knowledge of the situation, the skill requirements, and the job demands to estimate the probable success that the handicapped individual will have in completing a training program and in being placed in employment in a particular occupation.  For most types of cases assigned at the GS-9 level, established training facilities and institutions previously approved for use in the program are available and adequate to the needs of trainees served by the program.  When none are available or adequate, GS-9 specialists locate, evaluate, and recommend approval of suitable training facilities.  In evaluating and selecting training facilities and employment sites, GS-9 specialists usually survey the prospective site in terms of the limitations of the handicapped individual and the demands the environment may make.  In cases of physical disabilities, for example, this involves consideration of such physical factors as standing, walking, climbing, reaching, and treading; and such environmental factors as sudden temperature change, head, cold, dust, noise, vibration, toxic conditions, hazardous machinery, fast pace of work, variety in tasks, exacting performance, and frequent interruptions.  GS-9 specialists may also negotiate contracts with training facilities for training that will meet the individual’s needs and the rehabilitation agency’s requirements.  In doing so, they adapt existing plans to fit the particular training needed. 

Typically, the GS-9 specialist’s supervision of the individual while in training and/or during adjustment to the job involves responsibility for counseling and otherwise helping the trainee resolve his personal problems, e.g., family relations difficulties, employer-employee misunderstandings, emotional depression, financial difficulties.  If, in the judgment of the specialist, the problem is one requiring professional aid, he is responsible for arranging for such services and getting the individual to accept help.  GS-9 assignments may include special procedures type cases, but such assignments usually do not involve as a regular and continuing responsibility the full range of specialist functions. 

At the GS-11 level, specialists carry out a wide range of difficult cases involving special procedures.  Such cases require a more extensive knowledge of disabilities or of other employment handicaps, and of occupational information, in relation to the more complicated problems involved in the training and job placement of the severely handicapped.  While the major functions involved in carrying out special procedures type cases at this level are generally similar to those performed at GS-9, the work at GS-11 is more difficult because of the need for more individualized programming and substantial adjustments in the training or job environment.  GS-11 case assignments require the specialist to apply a more intensive knowledge of mental and physical disabilities or other handicaps, in terms of the practical effects of such handicaps on work tolerances, motivations, adjustment to training, and difficulty in employment placement.  Cases at GS-11 involve serious impairment, characterized by the severe limitations which the disability places on an individual’s capacity to participate in any type of gainful employment.  Such cases demand considerable ingenuity and persuasiveness on the part of the specialist to meet the limitations.  For example, in order to fit a severely disabled individual to the job so that the disability is not a handicap, GS-11 specialists more often must persuade employers to make special and substantial adaptations in working conditions or shop tools and equipment, e.g., modification of production processes. 

At GS-11, planning of the training program is on a more individualized basis than at GS-9.  At GS-9, existing plans can usually be adapted to the specific situation.  At GS-11 on the other hand, the specialist must develop the training program around the residual capacities of the individual.  The specialist must exercise much care to see that the program does not result in a training course or job which exceeds the severely reduced work tolerances of the individual.  For example, a person with a controlled pulmonary condition can be impacted by radical changes in temperature, dampness, dust, or strenuous manual labor, contributing to relapse, loss of job opportunity, and even re-hospitalization.  Placement of such individuals is also usually more difficult, requiring careful selectivity, since there is a strong likelihood of (1) great employer resistance and prejudice in hiring the individual and (2) a possible loss of good relations established with the employer, if the person in training relapses or proves unsatisfactory.  In addition, the employer may be unwilling to hire other handicapped workers in the future. 

Frequently, cases assigned to GS-11 specialists are further complicated by problems requiring special services in addition to the primary training or placement services for those individuals with severe physical or emotional disability.  For example, the individual may need some special, individualized remedial work in basic education and in attitudes toward work before or during certain phases of job training.  GS-11 specialists are expected to recognize and determine the extent of need, and provide for such training prior or as a supplement to the job training.  In such cases, they look for and select a training facility with strong remedial training resources, or arrange for individual tutoring.  In comparison, GS-9 case assignments may include responsibility for providing remedial education, through an established program, that is of a prescribed or fairly standardized nature.  GS-9 specialists do not normally have full responsibility for cases involving problems of the kind that call for the more extensive knowledge and judgment needed in setting up, evaluating, and making adjustments in an individualized learning program. 

Some of the more severe handicaps typical of the complicated cases at the GS-11 level call for exploratory training programs to determine the individual’s work capacity.  The GS-11 specialist makes the arrangements for setting up such a program under carefully controlled conditions (such as a sheltered workshop).  The GS-11 specialist closely follows progress and evaluates findings.  The specialist must then make a judgment regarding need for further adjustments to accommodate the vocational objective for the individual.  Case assignments at GS-9, on the other hand, do not normally involve responsibility for this type of close monitoring of the progress of the individuals being trained, nor do they require the greater knowledge needed to make such evaluations.  Cases at the GS-11 level typically involve more difficult problems of emotional and economic adjustment for the individual than cases at the GS-9 level.  As a result, the individual is more dependent on the specialist.  To counteract this, the GS-11 level requires greater skill, ingenuity, and knowledge to encourage and motivate the individual to become self-sufficient

The appellant’s position meets the GS-9 level.  Like this level, the appellant typically works with cases of the regular procedures type which do not present difficult problems in terms of successful training, placement, and work adjustment.  Most of the appellant’s CWT clients have experienced alcohol or other substance abuse addictions, have some form of mental health impairment, and some have physical service connected disabilities, e.g., knee and ankle problems, low back pain.  Their mental health symptoms are mild to moderate, with many suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) conditions including ringing in the ears, periods of anger, anxiety and depression, nightmares, and aversion to crowds and loud noises.  Most have a history of “self-medication” using alcohol or other substances to cope with their symptoms.  Despite these difficulties, all have been certified by a health care professional staff member of their individual treatment teams as psychiatrically stable and cleared to work in the CWT program, and only those identified as potentially successful candidates may enter the program.  In addition, all of the appellant’s clients are motivated to get paid work experience on campus as part of their overall treatment plan, willingly accept the training offered, and most have adjusted well to work.  As a result, some client veterans have been selected for permanent VA jobs at the installation. 

Like the GS-9 level, the training facilities, job opportunities on campus in a variety of services, entry-level requirements, wages (i.e., $7.50 to $8.50 per hour), hours of work and working conditions, are closely related to clients’ health conditions, with published standard training requirements and milestones, e.g., lists of tasks for Caretaker jobs in the veterans’ cemetery.  Similar to the GS-9 level, the appellant considers the limitations imposed by veterans’ impairments, and applies specialized knowledge of on-campus skill requirements and job demands, to estimate the success of clients in CWT program training and jobs.  For example, he has arranged for certain accommodations for clients including reduced work schedules for physically impaired veterans, less demanding physical tasks for veteran clients working in housekeeping, more frequent meals and snacks for diabetic clients, and proximity to rest rooms for veterans having Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

Like the GS-9 level, for all of the appellant’s clients, established training facilities or on-the-job training programs have been previously approved for use in the CWT program, and are available and adequate to meet the needs of veterans.  These include training in resume preparation and interview techniques offered by Goodwill Industries and NC Works, as well as a variety of in-service on-the-job training tasks identified for working at the veterans’ cemetery, housekeeping, hospital kitchen, etc.  Similar to the GS-9 level, in evaluating and selecting on-campus work sites the appellant surveys a prospective site in terms of its limitations on his clients and the demands of the work environment including physical factors such as frequent or long periods of standing, walking, bending (housekeeping, kitchen), or environmental situations including changes in heat, cold, and operating hazardous machinery, e.g., installation grounds maintenance and cemetery caretaking in changing weather, and operation of large power mowers and trimming equipment.  Although the appellant does not set up formal training contracts with institutions, similar to the GS-9 level he informally negotiates with service representatives to meet individual client training needs.  In doing so, he adapts existing training tasks to meet the individual’s rehabilitation requirements.  Like the GS-9 level, the appellant is responsible for ensuring clients are paid on an equitable basis, and that their hours are timely recorded and submitted in the appropriate VISTA format. 

Like the GS-9 level, the appellant stays apprised of veteran clients’ training and adjustment to job placements.  He meets once a week with clients at the job site to exchange information on the status of on-the-job training (altering training plans as needed), work adjustment and supervisor/co-worker relationships, and provides counseling on emotional and addiction recovery issues.  If in his judgment problems are identified requiring professional assistance, he encourages the veteran to participate in treatment services offered, and refers the issue to the appropriate member of the client’s treatment team including his/her psychiatrist, social worker, or addiction counselor with the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation and Recovery Treatment Program.  He also attends weekly treatment meetings with a clinical psychologist and other treatment specialists to discuss particular problems with individual CWT enrollees, and generally review the status and success of job placements. 

The appellant’s position does not meet the GS-11 level.  Unlike this level, his cases do not require special procedures nor are his clients so severely handicapped as to present difficult problems of motivation, training, placement or adjustment.  On the contrary, veterans enrolled in the CWT program are motivated to receive paid work experience on campus as part of their overall treatment plan, and most are eager to receive job training in a mandated VA program where placement is assured.  Although the appellant regularly deals with veterans having mental health and addiction issues, his cases do not present the kinds of serious problems stemming from serious physical or mental health impairments typical of the special procedures type.  Indeed, the appellant’s supervisor indicated that veterans having severe mental health problems would not be eligible for the CWT program.  Instead, they are referred for treatment, counseling, and job placement to the Supportive Employment Program Mental Health Intensive Care Management team made up of various health care professionals, a social worker, and a vocational rehabilitation specialist. 

Because CWT enrollees do not present a wide range of difficult issues involving special procedures, the appellant is not confronted with the need for more individualized programming and substantial adjustments in the training or job environment.  Unlike the GS-11 level, his cases do not require intensive knowledge of mental and physical disabilities, and the practical effects of such handicaps on work tolerances, motivations, adjustment to training, and difficulty in employment placement.  The appellant’s clients do not suffer from such severe impairments as to significantly limit their capacity to participate in any type of gainful employment.  Thus the appellant is not required to apply considerable ingenuity and persuasiveness with employers to overcome such limitations. 

In contrast to the GS-11 level, existing training plans for CWT enrollees can usually be adapted to a specific situation, rather than developing a separate plan or training program centered on the residual capacities of the veteran and his/her significantly reduced work tolerance.  As opposed to the GS-11 level, the appellant’s cases are not so complicated as to require special services in addition to primary training or placement.  While he is responsible for making training referrals, in contrast to the GS-11 level these are provided through established standardized programs principally by Goodwill Industries and NC Works.  Thus he is not required to apply extensive knowledge and judgment characteristic of the higher level to set up, evaluate, and make adjustments in individualized learning programs, including developing exploratory training programs to determine the individual’s work capacity under carefully controlled conditions. 

Level of responsibility

At the GS-9 level, contacts with training and employment sources are largely with well-established facilities, typically institutional in nature, and previously used by the program.  In regular procedures cases, GS-9 specialists are responsible for independently developing appropriate training or employment arrangements with these sources.  These arrangements and agreements are subsequently incorporated into contracts which they submit to the supervisor for review.  If the facility has been previously used by the program, and existing plans are readily adaptable to the particular situation, the recommendations made by the GS-9 specialist are heavily relied upon by supervisory officials.  More complicated situations involve consultation with and subsequent checking by the supervisor. 

In regular procedures type assignments, GS-9 specialists perform the full range of specialist functions, typically with relative independence and freedom from detailed supervisory guidance.  Supervision received on regular procedures type cases is general in nature; the supervisor may provide general instructions on such matters as referral on precedent situations, workload priorities, reporting intervals, changes in guidelines, and administrative requirements.  GS-9 specialists keep their supervisors informed of problems that arise through regular progress reports.  GS-9 specialists must recognize when guidance is needed and seek the advice of a specialist of higher grade, the supervisor, or another member of the team.  For regular procedures cases, the GS-9 specialist is normally subject to periodic supervisory review and on-site observation to evaluate the continuing effectiveness and soundness of their performance.  On unusual or unprecedented problems, the supervisor closely reviews the GS-9’s recommendations and proposed solutions in order to ascertain whether they may serve as precedents or may have significant impact on relationships between the immediate organization, other parts of the agency, State and local organizations, employee groups, etc.  The supervisor determines whether such solutions should be accepted or modified. 

In contrast with the well-established, institutional type of contacts characteristic of the GS-9 level, contacts at the GS-11 level frequently involve non-standardized sources.  This involves locating, establishing and negotiating with new sources, e.g., new training facilities.  Frequently, it involves finding and negotiating with individual instructors who are particularly competent to develop and conduct individually tailored programs as in the case of the homebound.  The GS-11 specialists’ decisions, arrangements, and recommendations resulting from their negotiations in such situations are heavily relied upon by the supervisor.  Although GS-9 specialists also independently make decisions and recommendations regarding training and employment negotiations, the decisions and recommendations at GS-11 involve considerably more complex situations calling for greater knowledge and judgment.  

In general, GS-11 specialists receive and carry through the full range of difficult special procedures cases assigned to them, typically without supervisory guidance.  If the case is exceptionally complex or novel, the GS-11 specialist consults with the supervisor.  In contrast, GS-9 specialists operate with similar independence of action only in the regular procedures cases.  Special procedures case assignments at GS-9 are limited by closer supervision or a partial range of case coverage. 

Progress reports, decisions, and recommendations of GS-11 specialists are subject to supervisory review for information or formal approval, or for discussion of any questions raised by the specialist where there is a need for a joint decision on matters that may serve as precedent, present potential public relations problems, or otherwise require specific attention.  Periodic supervisory review is made to evaluate quality and continuing effectiveness of performance.

The appellant’s position meets the GS-9 level.  Like this level, his training and on-campus employment sources are with well-established training facilities previously used, e.g., Goodwill Industries, NC Works, and CWT clients are regularly placed in various services on the installation such as housekeeping, cemetery, kitchen, and medical supply warehouse.  Similar to the GS-9 level, he is responsible for independently developing appropriate training and job placement arrangements with these sources for regular procedures cases.  Although the appellant does not formally develop contracts with training and employment sources, similar to the GS-9 level he assesses them for suitability for placement of CWT clients, and makes recommendations to his supervisor for review.  Moreover, like the GS-9 level, because all of his training and job placement resources are regularly used and have existing formal training or on-the-job training plans in place which are readily adaptable to accommodate the needs of a particular veteran, his recommendations are heavily relied upon by his supervisor.  In those occasional instances where a situation is more complicated due to the specific needs of a client, he checks with his supervisor for additional guidance. 

Like the GS-9 level, for regular procedures type assignments, the appellant independently performs the full range of functions with no detailed supervisory guidance.  Supervision by the CWT Coordinator (clinical psychologist) is general in nature, although the supervisor may provide general instructions on the most appropriate client referral for additional treatment in unusual situations, assist in prioritizing workload, or advise the appellant on changes in treatment guidelines or administrative procedures.  Similar to the GS-9 level, the appellant keeps his supervisor informed on program and placement status, and problems with particular clients, through weekly group treatment team meetings and separate individual meetings.  He also regularly provides the supervisor with copies of his program notes recorded in the Computerized Patient Care System.  In reviewing notes, the supervisor assesses whether the best match to a job has been made given a veteran’s health condition, and if appropriate intervention by the appellant with the veteran is well documented.  Similar to the GS-9 level, the appellant consults with his supervisor on unusual problems such as how to handle a client who threatens co-workers, routinely fails to show up for work, walks off the job, or relapses into use of addictive substances.  In such cases the supervisor closely reviews the appellant’s recommendations to resolve the issue, evaluates the situation’s impact on the relationship with the particular service, and determines whether a proposed solution is acceptable or should be amended. 

The appellant’s responsibility does not meet the GS-11 level.  Unlike this level, the training and job placement sources he utilizes are standardized and regularly used, thus he is not required to locate, establish, and negotiate with new sources, sometimes involving individual instructors, as described at the higher level.  As previously discussed, in contrast to the GS-11 level his assignments do not include special procedures cases; therefore, he is not required to perform the full range of activities involving such cases.  While the appellant regularly advises his supervisor on the progress of training and job placement, including discussing sensitive matters with the supervisor, his work is more closely reviewed than that described at the higher level.

Summary

Both the characteristics of the appellant’s assignments and his level of responsibility are evaluated at the GS-9 level.  Therefore, the position is graded at that level.

Decision

The appellant’s position is properly classified as Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, GS-1715-9.

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