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Please Note: These questions and answers supplement the revised qualification standard that went into effect for GS-1102 contract specialist positions in non-Defense agencies as of January 1, 2000. The standard was developed by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy under the authority of 41 U.S.C. 433.
Issues that arise in implementing the standard should be addressed to the human resources specialists in your agency who will be able to seek the advice and assistance of OPM and OFPP, as necessary.
The answer to this question first requires an understanding of the purpose of the 24-hour coursework requirement, which is to provide a person with a minimum amount of business knowledge. This is particularly important because the primary function of contract specialists is to negotiate and execute business relationships on behalf of the Government. The eleven fields listed in the standard are identical to those set forth by Congress in DAWIA, and presumably they were selected because they capture the types of knowledge and skills desired for members of the acquisition workforce to execute this function.
Colleges and universities do not use a standard convention for course numbering aligned to the eleven fields. For example, one institution identifies its accounting curriculum as "AMIS" courses, standing for "accounting and management information systems." Therefore, it is neither practical nor reasonable to restrict interpretation of the word "fields" to institutional programs using precisely the same language. Instead, it is appropriate to consider the identified fields as general subject areas. If the content of a course arguably fits within the general subject area represented by one of the fields, it should qualify toward the 24-hour requirement. A human resource specialist, or whoever in your organization credits completion of the 24 hours, may need to review the course syllabus whenever it is not obvious from the course title that content fits the field. Consider these examples: a sociology course in statistics; a public administration course in quantitative techniques; a psychology course in organizational behavior. If the content of these courses is comparable to, or perhaps is recognized by the academic institution as a substitute for, courses clearly resting in the listed fields, you should receive credit toward the 24-hour requirement. It is your responsibility to furnish supporting descriptive information if credit for a course is being questioned.
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The answer depends on the circumstances. A "lateral" is a reassignment into a position at the same grade. If you meet the qualification requirements, obviously you can lateral into positions within your own agency or other agencies without a waiver. If you do not meet the qualification requirements, the rules vary by grade and circumstances as described here. There is no waiver provision applicable to grades GS-5 through GS-12, only for grades GS-13 and above. Below GS-13, the "exceptions" language of the standard permits you to lateral into a position at any agency and then to continue to be eligible for promotions through GS-12. For grades GS-13 and above, the "exceptions" language permits you to lateral into positions at your agency or other agencies at the grade you occupy as of January 1, 2000 without a waiver. These "exceptions" are "grandfathering" features afforded to the existing workforce.
Suppose you are promoted into grade GS-13 or above after December 31, 1999 on the basis of a waiver. The need for a waiver for a subsequent lateral in this circumstance depends on whether you are changing agencies. If another agency wants to lateral you into one of its GS-13 or above positions, that agency must grant a waiver in order to give you the lateral. If your own agency (the one that gave you the waiver for the position you now occupy) wants to lateral you into another position within the agency, it may do so without processing a new waiver, even if geographic relocation is involved. For example, if you were promoted to a GS-13 Contract Specialist position at NIH-Bethesda MD based on a waiver, you could be selected for a lateral into a GS-13 Procurement Analyst position at CDC-Atlanta GA without the HHS senior procurement executive granting another waiver (since both organizations are within HHS). However, you could not lateral from the NIH position into a GS-13 Contract Specialist position at EPA unless the EPA senior procurement executive granted you another waiver.