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GS-1300T Classification Standard FAQ

  1. Why did OPM decide to issue new classification standards for the hydrologic technician occupation?

  2. The OPM Classification Standard, dated Aug 2002, details the Technician series and describes the GS-10 Technician (page 34) with an accumulative score of between 2105-2350. If the GS-10 no longer exists how will the point structure change? And why is the GS-10 even listed?

  3. Where can I locate the classification standard for the new OPM 1300T, GS-Technician series on the OPM web pages?

  4. Why are there differences in the Discipline Guidelines for this memo? I.e., Mapping has a different approach to this standard by keeping the GS-10 in place?

  5. Is the Full Performance Level (FPL) for the Hydrologic Technician and Physical Science Technician series a GS-9 or 11?

  6. What is the "new" career ladder?

  7. Is this decision the result of a covert effort by some to make at least a part of the Hydrologic Technician series career ladder be two-grade increments?

  8. Is there a one-year wait for promotion from GS-9 to GS-11?

  9. What will happen to my pay? I'm assuming that the 2 actions would be a Promotion or Re-alignment of PD, change to Lower grade.

  10. If the last occurs, what might a scenario look like as far as pay retention? Is there anything we know it won't be?

  11. If a current GS-10 Technician has less than a year in grade, what's the possibility of the promotion to the GS-11?

  12. Is OPM redoing the classification standard for hydrologists and possibly other USGS job series?

  13. The USGS employs far more Hydrologic Technicians than any other agency. Why did the USGS allow OPM to revise the standards in such a way that a ranking at the GS-10 grade now is impossible?

  14. Through no fault of our own (Hydrologic Technicians), the GS-10 grade level has been eliminated. How are our interests going to be protected?

  15. I currently am a GS-10. Who will decide whether I will become a GS-11 or a GS-9? Will I have any say in that decision?

  16. What rights (i.e., rights of appeal) will I have if I am downgraded to the GS-9 level?

  17. If changed to a lower grade and pay is saved could they make more?

  18. For those of us that are or will be GS-9 Hydrologic Technicians, what expectations should we have now for how difficult it may be to get that next promotion to the GS-11 level? Has that grade level, in effect, now been taken from our reach?

  19. Will GS-9 and below levels change from the current expectations?

  20. Will Hydrologic Technicians be able to get the classification criteria including the factor grading system in writing?

  21. Why did the USGS not object in whatever way would have been necessary to have the "factor" scores redone to ensure an outcome of a continued HT grade level of GS-10?

  22. What, if any, real prerogatives will managers have in the decision to promote or downgrade current GS-10s?

  23. What will the reclassification do to current GS-12 Hydrologic Technicians?

  24. Did anyone really think through the cost implications for our data programs of a policy that may, in effect, say that anyone who was or would have been a GS-10 under the old rules now will be compensated at the GS-11 level?

  25. This is but one more blow among seemingly endless blows that threaten our ability to deliver our products and services at rates deemed reasonable by our customers. Should we expect similar decrees, with similar cost consequences, from OPM for other job series?

  26. If pay is saved does that go away after a time period?

  27. What will happen to those on standard GS-10 PDs. Many are operating under the impression that they will automatically be upgraded, but we have determined that the PD does grade out as a GS-10, so do we apply the standard to the PD of record and later worry about rewriting the supervisory controls to match the higher level knowledge and complexity and then upgrade them all to GS-11?

  28. Can we better explain the differences between the GS-9 duties and the GS-11 duties shown of the Hirsch email dated 3/6/03. There seems to be a very fine line between the described duties and expectations.

  29. Has the current Hydrologic Technician classification been replaced by the Physical Science Technician Standard or will the Physical Science Technician Standard be used to classify the Hydrologic Technician?

  30. Is this action considered a reclassification?

  31. Does this mean that new Position Descriptions (PD) need to be written for all HT?

  32. Are employees from other agencies affected?

  33. When will the new classification determinations be effective?

  34. Are we going to receive orientation from USGS Office of Human Resources and OPM?

  35. What is the legal basis for OPM to establish a new classification?

  36. If a GS-10 is promoted to a GS-11, is there a chance that they will be given a retroactive promotion.

  37. When did the USGS Office of Human Resources become aware of the new classification standard covering Hydrologic Technicians?

  38. What was the input that the USGS gave to OPM regarding to such action?

  39. Who initiated the new classification process, OPM or another government agency?

  40. What will be the name of the new position currently held by Hydrologic Technician?

  41. What will be the process to review the current Hydrologic Technician positions, "to ensure they are properly classified under the new standard"?

  42. Are Desk Audits included as part of this process?

  43. Does this mean that all Hydrologic Technician positions (GS-4 to GS-10) will be reviewed or only the Hydrologic Technician GS-10 positions?

  44. Explain what will be the possible results (promotion, demotion, reclassification, reassignment, etc…/ or other results) of the revision for the affected Hydrologic Technician positions.

  45. Can a GS-9 Hydrologic Technician be classified as GS-11 Hydrologic Technician non-competitively after going through the revision process?

  46. Can a Hydrologic Technician, be classified or reclassified as Hydrologist after going through the revision process?

  47. When will the Regional Hydrologist issue the position paper on the guidance that delineates the technical work at GS-9 and GS-11 grade levels?

  48. If an employee does not agree with the review of his/her position, what can an employee do?

  49. If an employee is performing duties outside of his/her PD, how is the employee affected for the purpose of his/her position review?

  50. In the reclassification process, will Personnel be able to make good business decisions balancing morale and expense concerns in the Districts?

  51. What is the estimated financial effect on our programs? If 50 to 100% of the positions are promoted, Water-wide we will see increased expenses of about $500,000 to $900,000 in salary the first year. Keep in mind that in addition to the pay increase of two grades, Locality pay and Federal FERS contributions will increase. Some people will drop down into the one-year WGI cycle when they are promoted and there will be a resultant inflationary increases next year.

  52. The email from Bob Hirsch indicates that "we have determined that the new standard no longer supports classification of Hydrologic Technician positions at the GS-10 grade level." Does this mean that OPM actually eliminated the GS-10 position from the series or has the USGS implemented OPMs guidance in this manner? Is this a "done deal"?

  53. Why is a review of supervisory Hydrologic Technicians being undertaken when the modernized Job Family Standard (JFS) covers only non-supervisory position?

  54. Will there continue to be regular communication with the field concerning this issue? Even if the email is an update of the process, meetings etc., this would help the morale in the Hydrologic Technician ranks. Maybe some of the easy questions can be answered now, and save the more difficult questions that require further research for later.

  55. What is meant by the USGS general guide for full performance levels?

  56. Are FPL's for all positions within a given occupation established at the same grade level?<

  57. Does having a higher FPL than your current grade mean you will be automatically promoted to the higher level?

  58. If the FPL is established at the GS-11 level, does this mean we will have many more GS-11 positions created within the organization?

Answers

1. Why did OPM decide to issue new classification standards for the hydrologic technician occupation?

The previous Hydrologic Technician standard in narrative format was issued in 1971. It did not describe current technology and its significant impact on the work. Since 1976, it has been the practice of OPM to issue classification standards in Factor Evaluation Format (FES).

2. The OPM Classification Standard, dated Aug 2002, details the Technician series and describes the GS-10 Technician (page 34) with an accumulative score of between 2105-2350. If the GS-10 no longer exists how will the point structure change? And why is the GS-10 even listed?

The current OPM standard is the one from August 2002 (the Job Family Position Classification Standard for Technical Work in the Physical Sciences Group, GS-1300). The grade conversion table covers a wide variety of grades, series, and circumstances across the government. However, while OPM provides point ranges for all grades, GS-1 through GS-15, point ranges at certain grades may not be logical or reasonable when Factor Level Descriptions (FLD) are considered. As an example of this, the Factor Evaluation System Classification Standard for Forester, GS-460, (professional two-grade interval occupation) provides point score ranges for all grades (GS-5 through GS-15), but agencies do not use the intervening, GS-6, GS-8 and GS-10 grade levels when classifying positions because FLDs do not present logical combinations at those grade levels. Benchmark position descriptions at the back of this OPM standard bear out this point.

3. Where can I locate the classification standard for the new OPM 1300T, GS-Technician series on the OPM web pages?

The Job Family Position Classification Standard for Technical Work in the Physical Sciences Group, GS-1300T as well as the Job Family Position Classification Standard for Professional Work in the Physical Sciences is available on the OPM site. The URL for the Technician standard is: http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/gs1300t.pdf

4. Why are there differences in the Discipline Guidelines for this memo? I.e., Mapping has a different approach to this standard by keeping the GS-10 in place.

The same logic that applies in the point levels assigned to Hydrologic Techs will apply to all other technician positions. No new GS-10 Technician positions will be established in any discipline in USGS. Currently, Mapping has no GS-10s.

5. Is the Full Performance Level (FPL) for the Hydrologic Technician and Physical Science Technician series a GS-9 or 11?

The FPL is being established at the GS-11 level. The guidance on U.S. Geological Survey Career Ladders is being revised and will reflect this change.

6. What is the “new” career ladder?

See the answer to question #5

7. Is this decision the result of a covert effort by some to make at least a part of the Hydrologic Technicians series career ladder be two-grade increments?

No. The Hydrologic Technician career ladder will be GS-1 through GS-11.

8. Is there a one-year wait for promotion from GS-9 to GS-11?

One year of specialized experience at the GS-09 will meet the qualification and time-in-grade requirements to be eligible for promotion to a GS-11 Hydrologic Technician.

9. What will happen to my pay? I'm assuming that the 2 actions would be a Promotion or Re-alignment of PD, change to Lower grade. If the last occurs, what might a scenario look like as far as pay retention? Is there anything we know it won't be?

No GS-10 positions will be downgraded based on the new standard. Employees promoted to GS-11 through this review process will receive pay to which they are entitled by applying OPM’s rules in setting pay upon promotion.

10. Memo states that “managers” will examine existing position description and determine whether they will be changed from the 10 to 9 or 11. Who are the “managers”?

The Regional Human Resources Officers are managers with classification authority responsible for classifying positions at appropriate grade levels. In exercising these responsibilities, they are working closely with Water discipline subject matter experts.

11. If a current GS-10 Technician has less than a year in grade, what’s the possibility of the promotion to the GS-11?

The Technician would be promoted based on the application of the new standard.

12. Is OPM redoing the classification standard for hydrologists and possibly other USGS job series?

OPM is continuously updating classification standards. Recently issued standards/guides pertaining to USGS positions include the GS-2210 Information Technology Management standard and the GS-1300 Job Family Standard for Professional Physical Science Work guide which covers hydrologist positions.

13. The USGS employs far more Hydrologic Technicians than any other agency. Why did the USGS allow OPM to revise the standards in such a way that a ranking at the GS-10 grade now is impossible?

OPM is the agency within the Federal government responsible for writing and issuing classification standards. In carrying out this responsibility, they characteristically ask agencies with large numbers of positions in a given occupation to assist by providing occupational information. USGS worked with OPM in this regard.

14. Through no fault of our own (Hydrologic Technicians), the GS-10 grade level has been eliminated. How are our interests going to be protected?

Administrative appeal systems exist to protect employee rights when certain personnel actions are taken. The final decision regarding your position will determine what rights or avenues of appeal you might want to pursue, if any at all.

15. I currently am a GS-10. Who will decide whether I will become a GS-11 or a GS-9? Will I have any say in that decision?

Classification authority is vested in the USGS Human Resources Officers. USGS Human Resources Officers will make final decisions based on employees’ current position descriptions.

16. What rights (i.e., rights of appeal) will I have if I am downgraded to the GS-9 level?

We do not anticipate any downgrades based on the application of the new standard against the current position descriptions of record.

17. If changed to a lower grade and pay is saved could they make more?

No GS-10 positions will be downgraded; therefore, this question is not pertinent to actions that will be taken.

18. For those of us that are or will be GS-9 Hydrologic Technicians, what expectations should we have now for how difficult it may be to get that next promotion to the GS-11 level? Has that grade level, in effect, now been taken from our reach?

See the answer to question #5

19. Will GS-9 and below levels change from the current expectations?

Hydro Tech positions at all grades and levels are subject to classification review under the new standard. We anticipate very little change, if any, at these levels.

20. Will Hydrologic Technicians be able to get the classification criteria including the factor grading system in writing?

See the answer to question #3

21. Why did the USGS not object in whatever way would have been necessary to have the "factor" scores redone to ensure an outcome of a continued Hydrologic Technician grade level of GS-10?

OPM is the agency responsible for issuing classification standards in final. USGS had discussions at various points in time with OPM as the standard was being written to discuss our concerns and observations. However, OPM is the agency with final authority for issuance of new classification standards.

22. What, if any, real prerogatives will managers have in the decision to promote or downgrade current GS-10s?

None, although the Human Resources Officers are working closely with Water subject matter experts and the Regional Hydrologists to ensure the accuracy of classification determinations in implementing the new standard.

23. What will the reclassification do to current GS-12 Hydrologic Technicians?

All Hydrologic Technician positions are subject to classification review applying the new standard and GS-12 positions will be included in the review.

24. Did anyone really think through the cost implications for our data programs of a policy that may, in effect, say that anyone who was or would have been a GS-10 under the old rules now will be compensated at the GS-11 level?

Personnel compensation and position classification are separate and distinct programs. Position classification does not derive from personnel compensation considerations; rather, classification recognizes the duties, responsibilities, complexity, etc., of work performed in positions.

25. This is but one more blow among seemingly endless blows that threaten our ability to deliver our products and services at rates deemed reasonable by our customers. Should we expect similar decrees, with similar cost consequences, from OPM for other job series?

OPM is continuously updating classification standards. All USGS positions are subject to classification review if OPM issues new standards in the future covering USGS occupations.

26. If pay is saved does that go away after a time period?

Saved pay is associated with downgrading of positions. No GS-10 positions will be downgraded based on a recent review of the positions performed by the Regional Human Resources Officers.

27. What will happen to those on standard GS-10 PDs. Many are operating under the impression that they will automatically be upgraded, but we have determined that the PD does grade out as a GS-10, so do we apply the standard to the PD of record and later worry about rewriting the supervisory controls to match the higher level knowledge and complexity and then upgrade them all to GS-11?

The standard GS-10 PD was reviewed by the Human Resources Officers and they have determined that this PD is classified at GS-11 based on criteria in the new standard.

28. Can we better explain the differences between the GS-9 duties and the GS-11 duties shown of the Hirsch email dated 3/6/03. There seems to be a very fine line between the described duties and expectations.

The Regional Hydrologists have identified Water subject matter experts to review comments received in response to Hirsch’s memo, and to finalize an internal USGS guide that supplements classification concepts articulated in the new OPM standard.

29. Has the current Hydrologic Technician classification been replaced by the Physical Science Technician Standard or will the Physical Science Technician Standard be used to classify the Hydrologic Technician?

The former Hydrologic Technician classification standard (last revised in 1971) has been replaced by the new classification standard “Technical Work in the Physical Sciences Group, GS-1300” that was issued in August 2002. The new standard must be used to classify our Hydrologic Technician GS-1316 positions as well as our Physical Science Technician, GS-1311 positions and Cartographic Technician, GS-1371 positions.

30. Is this action considered a reclassification?

Yes.

31. Does this mean that new Position Descriptions (PD) need to be written for all Hydrologic Technician?

No. The new standard will be applied to the current PD of record.

32. Are employees from other agencies affected?

Yes. The new standard must be applied government wide.

33. When will the new classification determinations be effective?

The timeframe for effecting the classification actions will be determined by Water management and the Human Resources Officers when final decisions are made. Personnel actions will then be prepared and processed.

34. Are we going to receive orientation from USGS Office of Human Resources and OPM?

No orientation has been scheduled.

35. What is the legal basis for OPM to establish a new classification?

Title 5 USC 5105 directs the Office of Human Resources Management (OPM) to prepare standards for agencies to use in placing positions in their proper class and grade.

36. If a GS-10 is promoted to a GS-11, is there a chance that they will be given a retroactive promotion?

No. The promotion is based upon the application of a new classification standard and, therefore, there is no basis for a retroactive promotion.

37. When did the USGS Office of Human Resources become aware of the new classification standard covering Hydrologic Technicians?

In August 2002, OPM announced that the standard would be issued very soon. The standard was placed on the OPM Web page in September 2002.

38. What was the input that the USGS gave to OPM regarding to such action?

The USGS was given the opportunity to comment on the draft standard when it was issued in the fall of 2001. Comments were solicited from all disciplines in the bureau. The comments were then compiled by the bureau’s HQ Human Resources Office and forwarded through the Department to OPM for their consideration.

39. Who initiated the new classification process, OPM or another government agency?

OPM. The USGS Human Resources Offices will apply the new classification standard. 5 USC 5107 states, “each agency shall place each position under its jurisdiction in its appropriate class and grade in conformance with standards published by the Office of Human Resources Management”. Also refer to answer 1.

40. What will be the name of the new position currently held by Hydrologic Technician?

As provided on Page 8 of the new standard, the basic title for positions in the GS-1316 series will be Hydrologic Technician.

41. What will be the process to review the current Hydrologic Technician positions, “to ensure they are properly classified under the new standard”?

Regional Human Resources Officers recently met to begin the process of reviewing current position descriptions. They are doing so with the advice and assistance of Water discipline subject matter experts.

42. Are Desk Audits included as part of this process?

Agencies are not required to conduct audits in implementing new classification standards and evaluating the current PD of record. We do not plan at this time to audit positions.

43. Does this mean that all Hydrologic Technician positions (GS-4 to GS-10) will be reviewed or only the Hydrologic Technician GS-10 positions?

As required by law, the new standard will be applied to all Hydrologic Technician positions at all grade levels.

44. Explain what will be the possible results (promotion, demotion, reclassification, reassignment, etc./ or other results) of the revision for the affected Hydrologic Technician positions.

A position could remain unchanged, be upgraded or downgraded after application of the new standard. However, the Regional Human Resources Officers have determined so far that no GS-10 positions will be downgraded; in fact, all current GS-10 positions will be upgraded to GS-11.

45. Can a GS-9 Hydrologic Technician be classified as GS-11 Hydrologic Technician non-competitively after going through the revision process?

If the GS-9 Hydrologic Technician position is reclassified to the GS-11 level by application of the new standard, the employee is eligible for noncompetitive promotion to the GS-11 level; however, we don’t anticipate any of the GS-9 Hydrologic Technician positions in USGS being reclassified to GS-11 upon application of the new standard.

46. Can a Hydrologic Technician, be classified or reclassified as Hydrologist after going through the revision process?

The new standard will be applied to positions in the GS-1316 and GS-1311 series. If a supervisor has a need for a Hydrologist GS-1315 position and wishes to fill it internally, a PD must be established, the position must be announced under competitive merit promotion procedures, and the selectee must meet the qualification requirements for a professional Hydrologist.

47. When will the Regional Hydrologist issue the position paper on the guidance that delineates the technical work at GS-9 and GS-11 grade levels?

It is unknown at this time when the guidance for GS-11/12 will be issued. There are no plans to issue additional guidance at the GS-9 level.

48. If an employee does not agree with the review of his/her position, what can an employee do?

As provided in 370 DM 511, an employee may appeal the classification of his/her position. The employee may appeal directly to DOI or OPM. If the appellant first goes to DOI and is dissatisfied with the DOI decision, the employee may file a subsequent appeal to OPM. The employee may also appeal directly to OPM, bypassing DOI channels.

49. If an employee is performing duties outside of his/her PD, how is the employee affected for the purpose of his/her position review?

Classification action must first be taken on the PD of record. Any employee who feels that he/she is performing duties outside the scope of his/her position description, or that his/her position description is inaccurately described should discuss the issue with their supervisor. At the same time however, we anticipate that supervisors will look at position descriptions more closely during the next year because the standard has been issued and the Water discipline is developing a grade level guide to supplement the new standard.

50. In the reclassification process, will Personnel be able to make good business decisions balancing morale and expense concerns in the Districts?

Law and regulations require that positions be accurately classified applying the new OPM standard and without regard to the factors stated in this question.

51. What is the estimated financial effect on our programs? If 50 to 100% of the positions are promoted, Water-wide we will see increased expenses of about $500,000 to $900,000 in salary the first year. Keep in mind that in addition to the pay increase of two grades, Locality pay and Federal FERS contributions will increase. Some people will drop down into the one-year WGI cycle when they are promoted and there will be a resultant inflationary increases next year.

The financial impact has not been determined because this issue bears no consideration in classifying positions against the new standard.

52. The email from Bob Hirsch indicates that "we have determined that the new standard no longer supports classification of Hydrologic Technician positions at the GS-10 grade level." Does this mean that OPM actually eliminated the GS-10 position from the series or has the USGS implemented OPMs guidance in this manner? Is this a "done deal"?

This was a USGS determination based on advice and consultation with the OPM standards writer responsible for the GS-1300T standard.

53. Why is a review of supervisory Hydrologic Technicians being undertaken when the modernized Job Family Standard (JFS) covers only non-supervisory position?

See the answer to question #43

54. Will there continue to be regular communication with the field concerning this issue? Even if the email is an update of the process, meetings etc., this would help the morale in the Hydrologic Technician ranks. Maybe some of the easy questions can be answered now, and save the more difficult questions that require further research for later.

To the extent possible, communication with the field will continue, especially when final decisions or determinations are made. Providing responses to FAQ will be one way to facilitate this communication.

55. What is meant by the USGS general guide for full performance levels?

All agencies are required to document its career ladders as part of their merit promotion plans. The Interim Guidance on USGS Career Ladders, an addendum to our merit promotion plan, references an attachment that serves as a general guide to USGS career ladders. It identifies what may be expected as the normal career ladder within a given occupation (job series). This document is currently being revised to reflect recent changes to the career ladders of several occupations in the USGS.

56. Are FPL’s for all positions within a given occupation established at the same grade level?

No. Situations may require, or managers at their option may want to use merit promotions procedures (competition) when filling vacant positions within established occupational career ladder. The use of competition is especially appropriate when there are several people in the immediate work unit or organization at the same grade who are both eligible and qualified for a higher graded position. At times, it may be appropriate to adjust career ladders for a specific position or groupings of positions within an occupational field or in certain organizations based on classification reviews conducted by the servicing Human Resources Office or input from management.

57. Does having a higher FPL than your current grade mean you will be automatically promoted to the higher level?

No. Having a higher FPL than your current grade does not mean you will be automatically promoted to this level, regardless of your time in grade or technical skill level. It allows management to promote employees performing successfully up to that level dependent upon the work available on a regular and recurring basis, without competition within a given job series. This means that work at the higher level is both required and long-term. Additionally, promotions are never automatic.

58. If the FPL is established at the GS-11 level, does this mean we will have many more GS-11 positions created within the organization?

No. Management determines the number, type and grade level of every position based upon the work to be accomplished. An organization will most likely have a variety of job functions that must be performed at the GS-7, GS-8, GS-9, or GS-11 level and will not need all of the positions to be at GS-11 level.




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