SECTION 1. PURPOSE.
.01 This Order outlines the basic policies and procedures relating to the classification of positions for covered employees of the Department of Commerce (the Department).
.02 This revision incorporates changes in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations, expands delegations of authority to operating units, incorporates policy on Federal Wage System positions, provides the Department's policy on the automated library of position descriptions (PD Library), and generally updates the Order.
SECTION 2. GENERAL PROVISIONS.
.01 For General Schedule positions, this Order supplements the legal, regulatory, and other requirements of Chapter 51 of Title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.) (except sections 5108 and 5114), and Part 511 of 5 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
.02 For Federal Wage System (FWS) positions, this Order supplements the legal, regulatory, and other requirements of Chapter 53 of Title 5, U.S.C. and Subparts F and G of Part 532 of 5 CFR.
SECTION 3. COVERAGE.
All positions within the Department are subject to Chapters 51 and 53 of Title 5, U.S.C., unless specifically excepted by law or regulation. Positions excluded from coverage are as follows:
a. Senior Executive Service (SES);
b. Scientific and Professional (ST 3104);
c. Senior-Level (SL);
d. Administratively Determined (AD);
e. Foreign Service Officers (FSO) and the Senior Foreign Service (FE);
f. Commissioned Corps in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA);
g. Positions classified under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Alternative Personnel Management System and the Department of Commerce Personnel Management Demonstration Project (ZS, ZT, ZA, ZP); and
h. Positions covered by the Wage Marine pay system (WM).
SECTION 4. DEFINITIONS.
.01 Classification Appeal. A written request by an employee or a group of employees occupying identical positions for a change in the official pay plan, title, series, and/or grade of the position occupied by the employee or group of employees.
.02 Classification Certificate. A final decision issued by the Department, the Office of Inspector General Office of Human Resources Management (OIG/OHRM), or OPM on the classification of a position. A classification certificate is binding on all administrative, certifying, payroll, disbursing, and accounting offices of the Department.
.03 Classification Standard. A document issued by OPM that links the grade level definitions in Title 5 to specific work situations, thereby providing the basis for determining the appropriate title, series, and grade of each position.
.04 Consistency Review. A review directed by OPM, the Department, or OIG/OHRM when the adjudication of a classification appeal reveals the possibility that identical, similar, or related positions may be classified inconsistently with the classification appeal decision or appropriate classification standard.
.05 Employee Representative. An individual designated in writing by an employee to advise or represent the employee in a classification appeal.
.06 Federal Wage System. The common job grading system that covers most trades, crafts, and labor jobs outside of the postal field service.
.07 General Schedule. The classification system covered by Title 5 that includes a range of levels of difficulty and responsibility for professional, administrative, technical, clerical, or other positions in grades GS-1 to GS-15.
.08 Occupational Group. A major subdivision of the General Schedule, embracing a group of related occupations, e.g., the Accounting and Budget Group, GS-500; the Engineering and Architecture Group, GS-800; and the General Administrative, Clerical, and Office Services Group, GS-300.
.09 Operating Unit. A primary or constituent organizational component of the Department (e.g., Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of the Census, Economic Development Administration, NIST, NOAA, etc).
.10 Position. The duties and responsibilities that make up the work performed by one employee.
.11 Position Description (PD). The official record of management's assignment of duties and responsibilities to a position.
SECTION 5. RESPONSIBILITIES.
.01 Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM). The OHRM has Department-wide responsibility for the development, administration, and evaluation of human resources management policies and programs; and shall provide overall management and oversight of the Department's classification program by:
a. Issuing Department-wide classification policies.
b. Ensuring consistency in position classification across operating unit lines.
c. Developing Department-wide classification guidance, when necessary.
d. Coordinating the Department's participation in OPM's standards development program.
e. Managing the conduct of classification consistency reviews required by OPM.
f. Issuing Departmental decisions on classification appeals submitted to the Director, OHRM.
g. Developing and maintaining the Department's PD Library.
.02 Principal Human Resources Management Offices. These offices shall provide advice and support to heads of operating units in the development of classification policies and programs in addition to delivering classification services.
.03 Servicing Human Resources Management Offices. These offices shall assist managers in implementing the classification policies and programs of the Department and provide a full range of services Department-wide.
.04 Managers and Supervisors. Managers and supervisors shall exercise responsibility for accurate PDs, position management, and other delegated classification authorities; and shall:
a. Ensure that at all times, there is an accurate and certified position description (PD) which provides a clear and definitive description of the primary duties of each position that is adequate for proper classification.
b. Be responsible for assuring effective and economical staffing of operations under their control. All newly established positions and/or changes in duty assignments should be reviewed prior to being effected to insure that there is no overlap or duplication of assignments and responsibility, both within and outside an organizational entity. Before making an action effective, the official with delegated classification authority must assure that the work being assigned is consistent with the work of the organizational entity. Human Resources (HR) staff members shall provide advice and assistance in this area.
c. Managers and supervisors shall execute delegated classification authority in accordance with applicable directives. Classification authority delegated to heads of operating units and Secretarial Officers include:
1. authority to redelegate classification decision making to any supervisory or managerial level for those positions covered by PD Library; and
2. delegated classification authority, without central or counterpart clearance to take position classification actions and personnel placement actions in administrative management areas without grade-level restriction.
d. Before final placement decisions are made, however, operating units are expected to informally discuss actions involving such key positions as: Administrative Officer, Director for Human Resources Management, Budget Officer, Information Technology Management, Public Affairs Officer, and Congressional Affairs Officer, with the appropriate Departmental counterpart.
SECTION 6. POSITION CLASSIFICATION AND JOB GRADING STANDARDS.
.01 The Department shall assist and cooperate with OPM in the development and preparation of position classification standards to the extent possible. Principal and Servicing HR Offices shall participate in the standards development program by providing input to OHRM.
.02 When necessary, OHRM will develop internal position classification guides which are consistent with and supplement OPM classification standards. Principal and Servicing HR Offices may also develop classification guidance specific to positions in their serviced organizations. Such guidance is subject to the counterpart clearance process.
.03 All affected positions shall be reviewed and necessary adjustments made within six months after receipt of new or revised OPM or OHRM classification standards or guides, unless an extension is granted.
SECTION 7. POSITION DESCRIPTIONS AND EVALUATION STATEMENTS.
.01 At all times, each employee must have on record an accurate and certified PD that clearly describes the primary duties and responsibilities assigned to the employee. The accuracy of PDs must be certified by the supervisor or an official with authority to assign the duties and responsibilities of the position.
.02 Principal and Servicing HR Offices shall ensure that position evaluation statements are completed for positions for which the evaluation rationale is not evident from the PD. At a minimum, an evaluation statement must be completed in connection with classification appeals, when the position exceeds the highest grade described in the governing standard, and when the grade-controlling work is not covered by a directly applicable standard.
SECTION 8. PD LIBRARY.
.01 The PD Library consists of electronic files of generic standardized PDs. The files are available on the DoC OHRM Home Page for optional use by supervisors and human resources management specialists, Department-wide.
a. The PD Library is developed in collaboration with operating units, maintained by OHRM, and distributed to operating units as updates are made. Servicing HR Offices are responsible for disseminating the files to supervisors in whatever fashion they deem practical for their particular environment.
b. PD Library descriptions have four parts. Parts I and IV allow the supervisor to personalize the PD. In Part I, a short introductory statement must be created, establishing the organizational context of the position. In Part IV, unique position requirements (such as selective placement factors) or clearance requirements (if any), are listed. Parts II and III comprise the permanent parts of the PD and may not be altered. They describe the major duties and responsibilities and the evaluation factors upon which the grade level determination for the position is based.
.02 The Form CD-516, "Position Classification and Performance Management Record," is comprised of two parts: Part A, the PD, and Part B, the Performance Management Record, which contains information specific to the position. The two parts comprise specific, as well as current information concerning requirements of individual positions. When used together, they provide adequate information upon which to base the classification of the position.
.03 All Requests for Personnel Action (Standard Form-52) that involve a new or revised PD Library PD require the use of the CD-516. In addition, establishment of a performance plan for PD Library descriptions requires the use of the CD-516.
SECTION 9. GENERAL SCHEDULE CLASSIFICATION APPEALS.
.01 Scope. General Schedule employees covered by this Order or their representatives (designated in writing) have the right to appeal the classification of their positions at any time. Employees may appeal the following:
a. Pay system, i.e., inclusion in or exclusion from the General Schedule.
b. Occupational series.
d. Position title, if the applicable position classification standard prescribes a title or the title reflects a qualification requirement or authorized area of specialization.
.02 Nonappealable issues. The following issues are not appealable to the Department.
a. The accuracy of the official PD, e.g., the inclusion or exclusion of a major duty in the official PD. An employee must refer this matter to his/her supervisor for review. If the accuracy of the PD cannot be resolved informally, then the employee may request that the issue be reviewed in accordance with the administrative or negotiated grievance procedure. If the matter still cannot be resolved, the Department will accept the appeal and resolve it on the basis of the actual duties and responsibilities assigned by management and performed by the employee, as determined through appropriate factfinding.
b. An assignment or detail outside the scope of normally performed duties outlined in the official PD.
c. The accuracy, consistency, or use of Departmental classification guides.
d. The title assigned to a position, unless a specific title is authorized by a published OPM classification standard or guide, or when it reflects a qualification requirement or authorized area of specialization.
e. The series, grade, pay system, or title of a position to which the employee is not officially assigned by an official personnel action.
f. An agency's proposed classification decision.
g. The series, grade, pay system, or title of a position to which the employee is detailed or promoted on a time-limited basis. Employees serving under time-limited promotions for two years or more may appeal.
h. The classification of the employee's position based on position-to-position comparisons and not based on standards published by OPM.
i. The accuracy of grade level criteria contained in an OPM classification guide or standard.
j. A classification appeal decision previously issued by OPM or the Department, unless there has been a substantive change in the governing classification standard or the major duties of the position.
The above issues may be addressed under an administrative or negotiated grievance procedure if applicable:
.03 PD Library Positions. Positions covered by PD Library descriptions are subject to the same appeals policy described in this section. However, appeals based primarily on the issue of applicability of a PD Library description will not be accepted. This issue deals with the accuracy of the PD and cannot be resolved through the classification appeals process. Managers and employees must resolve this issue before a classification appeal can be accepted.
.04 Appeal Avenues. General Schedule employees have three different avenues of appeal.
a. They may submit an appeal to the Department, or in the case of OIG employees, to the OIG/OHRM.
b. They may appeal directly to OPM.
c. They may appeal to OPM through the Department, or in the case of OIG employees through OIG/OHRM. In this case, the appeal must be acted on within 60 calendar days or forwarded to OPM for action. If the decision is not in the employee's favor, the appeal is automatically forwarded to OPM. An appeal to OPM does not suspend or invalidate the original decision. However, once OPM issues a decision, this precludes further action by, or subsequent appeal to the Department, or to the OIG/OHRM. The servicing HR office must inform employees of their right to appeal directly to OPM and their right to see all information forwarded to OPM by the Department and the servicing HR office.
.05 Desk Audits. Unless required by a negotiated bargaining agreement, desk audits are not mandatory for resolving appeals. The responsible HR staff member may elect to conduct an audit, at his or her discretion, when it is considered necessary to gather or clarify facts about the position under appeal.
.06 Time Limits. An employee may file an appeal at any time. However, if the employee has suffered a loss in grade or pay, is not entitled to retained grade or pay, and desires retroactive adjustments, the time limits in 5 CFR 511.703 must be observed. Under this regulation, the following conditions must be met:
a. The appeal must be filed no later than 15 calendar days after the effective date of the reclassification action.
b. If the appeal was initially filed with the Department, and the decision was unfavorable, the subsequent appeal to OPM must be filed no later than 15 calendar days after receipt of the Department's decision.
.07 Content of Appeals. An employee's appeal must be in writing and must include the following:
a. The employee's name, mailing address, and business telephone number.
b. The exact location of the employee's position within the Department (e.g., bureau, division, branch, section, unit).
c. The employee's current pay system, position title, occupational series, and grade.
d. The requested pay system, position title, occupational series, and grade.
e. A copy of the official PD, if available, along with a statement (signed by management and the employee) concerning its accuracy. If the employee contends that the PD is not accurate, the employee must provide his or her own description of the work currently being performed and describe the steps that were taken to have the official description changed.
f. Reasons why the employee alleges that the position is erroneously classified. The employee must refer to position classification standards that support his/her appeal and must state the specific points of disagreement with the evaluation of his/her position. Additionally, the appellant must address the inaccuracies described in the written evaluation statement, if one has been prepared by the servicing HR Office.
g. Name, mailing address, and business telephone number for the employee's representative, if applicable.
.08 Access to Classification Standards. The servicing HR office is responsible for making applicable position classification standards and other relevant materials available to employees appealing the classification of their positions.
.09 Where to Submit Appeals. Appeals to the Department should be submitted to the Director for Human Resources Management, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20230. Appeals by OIG employees to the OIG/OHRM should be submitted to the OIG's Director for Human Resources Management at the same address. Appendix A to this Order provides the addresses of OPM offices where appeals should be submitted.
.10 Employee Representation. An employee may be represented in a classification appeal before the Department or before the OIG/OHRM by a representative designated in writing, including but not limited to an employee of the Department. A representative has the same responsibility as the employee in cooperating in the processing of the appeal. The use of a Department employee as a representative may be precluded if management determines that mission priorities would prevent that individual being released from his or her position or that the individual's release would give rise to unreasonable costs to the Government. Conflict of interest or violations of labor management regulations also may have a bearing on who may serve as employee representative. The selection of a representative does not necessarily convey a right to the representative to be present during any fact-finding session conducted by OHRM.
.11 A Principal or Servicing Human Resource Management Office that wishes to challenge an OPM classification certificate must obtain clearance from OHRM. Requests to reopen and reconsider a previous OPM decision will be submitted only by the Director for Human Resources Management. Challenges and requests for reconsideration by the OIG/OHRM, however, will be submitted directly to OPM with notification to the Director for Human Resources Management.
SECTION 10. JOB GRADING APPEALS.
.01 Scope. OHRM shall be the only appeal level within the Department. An employee under the FWS has an absolute right of appeal to OPM. However, before appealing to OPM, the employee must first appeal to the Department.
.02 PD Library Positions. Positions covered by PD Library descriptions are subject to the same appeals policy described in this section. However, appeals based primarily on the issue of applicability of a PD Library description will not be accepted. This issue deals with the accuracy of the position description and cannot be resolved through the classification appeals process. Managers and employees must resolve this issue before a classification appeal can be accepted.
.03 Procedures. The Department's appeal procedures will follow those set forth in 5 CFR, Part 532, Subpart G.
.04. Content of Appeals. Job grading appeals must include the same information required for position classification appeals, outlined in paragraph 9.07 of this Order.
.05 Time Limits. An employee may appeal the series, grade, or title of his/her job at any time. However, in order to preserve potential entitlement to retroactive corrective action in the case of an action which resulted in a reduction in grade or loss of pay, the appeal must be filed no later than 15 calendar days after the effective date of the action. These time limits will be extended by the Department if it finds that an employee was not notified of the applicable time limit for review and was not otherwise aware of the limit, or that circumstances beyond the employee's control prevented filing the appeal within the prescribed time limit.
.06 Desk Audits. The same policy on desk audits outlined in paragraph 9.05 of this Order applies to job grading appeals.
.07 Employee Representation. An employee may be represented in a classification appeal before the Department by a representative designated in writing, including but not limited to an employee of the Department. A representative has the same responsibility as the employee in cooperating in the processing of the appeal. The use of a Department employee as a representative may be precluded if management determines that mission priorities would prevent that individual being released from his or her position or that the individual's release would give rise to unreasonable costs to the Government. Conflict of interest or violations of labor management regulations also may have a bearing on who may serve as employee representative. The selection of a representative does not necessarily convey a right to the representative to be present during any fact-finding session conducted by OHRM.
.08 Access to Information. Principal and Servicing Human Resources Management Offices shall inform employees of this appeal system, where this document and related regulations are available for review, and ensure employees, their representatives, and recognized labor organizations reasonable access to this material.
.09 Appeal to the Office of Personnel Management. Employees covered by this Order may appeal the classification of their jobs to OPM only after a decision has been issued under the Department's appeals system. The appeal to OPM must follow the provisions of 5 CFR 532, Subpart G. Principal and Servicing Human Resources Management Offices should make available for review the OPM published regulations and instructions applicable to such appeals upon request by the employee or his/her representative.
SECTION 11. EFFECT ON OTHER ORDERS.
This Order supersedes Department Administrative Order 202-511, dated July 15, 1987, and Departmental Administrative Order 202-532 dated June 12, 1986.
Signed by: Director for Human Resources Management
Approved by: Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration
For copies of Appendices/Exhibits/Attachments, please call (202) 482-7873