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Survey Manual Chapter 370.335.1 - Merit Promotion Plan

Appendix A

Table of Contents

1. DOI -Purpose and Authority
        USGS - Outline: A Supervisor's Guide to Filling A Vacant Position
        USGS - Definitions
2. DOI - Merit Promotion Policy
    DOI - Scope
        USGS - Application Process
    DOI - Areas of Consideration
        USGS - Advertising Process
    DOI - Factors to be Considered in Promotion or Placement
        USGS - Rating Process
     DOI - Selection Procedures
        USGS - Selection Process
    DOI - Records
        USGS - Records Policy
3. DOI - Application of Competitive Procedures
    A. Competitive procedures apply to the following actions
    B. Competitive procedures do not apply to the following actions
         USGS - Accretion Guidance
         USGS - Career Ladder Guidance
4. Grievances
         USGS - Additional Guidance
        Attachment - Information Sheet for Merit Promotion Panel Members


370 DM 335

1. Purpose and Authority. This chapter establishes the Department of the Interior's Merit Promotion Plan (Plan) for filling positions covered by merit promotion and implements 5 U.S.C. Chapter 33 and 5 CFR 335.

The following chart outlines the process for filling a vacant position:

A Supervisor's Guide to Filling a Vacant Position

STEP 1: Prepare a position description (PD) accurately describing the duties to be performed.  (May use a PD that is already classified if it is accurate.)

STEP 2:   Submit the PD through appropriate channels to the servicing personnel office (SPO) for classification (FPPS action must be submitted simultaneously).

STEP 3:   Once the PD is classified, determine whether the vacancy will be filled competitively (through advertisement) or through a noncompetitive action (e.g., reassignment or promotion of an individual who does not need to compete based on meeting certain regulatory requirements).

Noncompetitive Action Competitive Action
STEP 4: Confer with your SPO to insure that a vacancy announcement does not have to be issued for consideration of CTAP or ICTAP eligibles.  (If an announcement does have to be issued, follow the steps for competitive actions.) STEP 4: Submit a job analysis identifying the major duties of the position and the corresponding knowledge, abilities, skills, and other characteristics (KASOCs) required to perform these duties.
STEP 5: If an announcement is not needed, the SPO will make the official job offer and, in consultation with you, arrange the effective date of the personnel assignment. STEP 5*: Working with your personnel specialist, develop a crediting plan enumerating three levels ( "outstanding", "good", and "acceptable") for each KASOC which will serve as benchmarks to evaluate the degree to which candidates possess the identified KASOCs for the position.  The ratings applicants receive, based on application of the crediting plan, will be used to determine the best qualified candidates when there is a panel, and the well qualified candidates when there is no panel.
  STEP 6: Determine the area of consideration (the area of your search) and the length of the advertisement.  (If you are advertising the position for the sole purpose of clearing CTAP or ICTAP, the area of consideration can be CTAP and/or ICTAP eligibles only.**)
  STEP 7*: Once the vacancy closes, determine whether a panel will be convened.  You must decide whether all noncompetitive eligibles will be referred without rating them against the KASOCs, if they meet minimum qualification requirements, or whether they will be evaluated with the competitive eligibles.
  STEP 8*: If a panel will be convened,  identify 1 or more subject matter experts who will evaluate the applicants against the crediting plan you developed and determine the best qualified candidates.  The best qualified candidates will be referred to you on the merit promotion certificate.
  STEP 9*: If a panel is not convened, the personnel specialist or a subject matter expert you identify will insure that the applicants meet at least one level above the specialized experience requirements for the position, as documented in your crediting plan.  Candidates meeting this level will be considered well qualified and referred to you on your merit promotion certificate.
  STEP 10: Once you are provided a merit promotion certificate it is recommended that you interview all referred candidates.  However, if you choose not to interview everyone referred, you must have considered everyone and have a valid reason(s) for not interviewing the full group.
  STEP 11: Document the merit promotion certificate indicating your selection (or nonselection if no selection is made) and transmit the certificate to your SPO.  (The personnel office recommends that reference checks be conducted prior to making a final selection.)
  STEP 12: The SPO will make the official job offer and, in consultation with you, arrange the effective date of the personnel assignment.

*Not applicable to positions being filled through the Online Automated Recruitment System.

**  If CTAP or ICTAP eligibles apply to your vacancy, your servicing personnel specialist will advise you of the applicable procedures for insuring their priority consideration.

USGS Definitions

Accretion of Duties - noncompetitive promotion of an employee whose position is reclassified at a higher grade because of the performance of higher level additional duties and responsibilities.  Accretion of duties promotions can only be effected when all conditions governing them, as outlined in the Departmental Merit Promotion Plan, are met.

Area of Consideration - the organizational and/or geographic boundaries within which a search is made for eligible candidates for a specific merit promotion and placement action.  Managers have the option to consider or not consider applicants from outside the area of consideration.  Appropriate areas of consideration may be as small as a group of employees in a work unit in the local commuting area who report to the same immediate supervisor or as large as government wide.  All areas of consideration must be set to promote fair and open competition and to maintain a diverse workforce. 

Basically Qualified (Also referred to as minimally qualified.) - those applicants who meet the minimum education and/or experience requirements for the position and eligibility requirements (e.g. time in grade, time after competitive appointment, etc.)

Best Qualified - when management chooses to convene a panel, those applicants who rank at the top when compared to other basically qualified candidates for the position are determined to be the best qualified.

Career Ladder - the range of grades for a position to which an employee may be promoted noncompetitively.  For example, if the career ladder for a position is identified as GS-5 through GS-11, an employee assigned to that position at the GS-5 could be promoted to the GS-7, GS-9, and GS-11 without having to compete for the promotions.

Crediting Plan* - benchmarks used to rate and rank basically qualified applicants for a position.  It consists of the knowledge, abilities, skills, and other characteristics (KASOCs) (developed through the process of job analysis) with typically three quality level descriptions for each factor.

CTAP/ICTAP - a Federal placement program that provides priority consideration for job opportunities to certain individuals who have been or who are being adversely impacted by Federal downsizing activities.

Management Official - used synonymously throughout this chapter with the terms immediate supervisor and selecting official.

Noncompetitive Eligibles - those individuals who can be placed (e.g. through promotion, reassignment, reinstatement, transfer, or change to lower grade) in a vacant position without competition based on their meeting all qualifications and eligibility requirements (e.g., education and/or experience, career ladder, time in grade, etc.).

Organizational Unit - refers to those positions in the local commuting area assigned to an individual officially classified as a first-line supervisor.

Quality Ranking Factors - KASOCs that are expected to significantly enhance performance in a position.  However, if an individual does not possess a particular quality ranking factor he/she is still eligible to be considered for the position.

Selective Factors - KASOCs that have been identified as essential for satisfactory performance on the job (e.g., foreign language, Federal or State licensure or certification requirements) and which are requirements in addition to the basic Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Operating Manual qualification standard for a position.  Applicants who do not meet the minimum (acceptable) level specified for any selective factor are not minimally qualifiedfor the position and are therefore ineligible for further consideration. 

Well Qualified - those applicants who exceed the minimal qualification requirements for any one KASOC for the position, as identified in the crediting plan.

*Not applicable to positions being filled through the Online Automated Recruitment System.

2. Merit Promotion Policy. Recruitment methods and selection procedures will be based solely on merit after fair and open competition, and will be made without regard to political, religious, or labor organization affiliation or nonaffiliation, marital status, race, color, sex, national origin, nondisqualifying physical handicap, sexual orientation, or age.

A. Scope. The Plan applies to all competitive service positions in the Department.  This chapter must be used in conjunction with the current Departmental Career Transition Assistance Plan.

USGS Application Process

1. Are there specific guidelines that should be followed in applying to a vacancy announcement?*

Information on how to apply is contained in both the particular vacancy announcement and the USGS "Application Guidelines and Eligibility Requirements" form (Form 9-1677).  This form is available from the same sources that provide the vacancy announcement.  Application materials must be received by the closing date in the Personnel Office specified in the vacancy announcement.  Failure to submit all the required forms may result in the applicant being found not qualified.  Applications will be accepted by fax and if indicated on the announcement, may be accepted through other electronic mediums such as e-mail or the Internet.

2. In addition to applying for a specific position, is there any other way to receive consideration for advertised vacancies?*

Yes.  Management officials and supervisors may also nominate candidates for consideration.  Nominations of candidates who require competition in order to receive consideration must be received in the Servicing Personnel Office (SPO) by the closing date of the announcement.  These nominations must be submitted along with supporting documentation sufficient to evaluate the candidates against the qualification requirements for the position.  The nominating official will also insure the requisite supervisory appraisal form is completed and will advise each nominee that they may complete a narrative statement addressing the identified knowledge, abilities, skills, and other characteristics (KASOCs). Nominations will be used to supplement other applications received under the merit promotion process.

In addition, supervisors will ensure that employees within the area of consideration who are absent for legitimate reasons (detail, leave, training, IPA, military service, etc.) receive appropriate consideration for positions for which they indicated in writing prior to departure that they wish to receive consideration

3. Can excepted service employees be considered under this plan?

Generally, applicants who qualify for certain excepted service appointing authorities or who are from excepted agencies that have an agreement with OPM which allows entry into the competitive service, may be considered for advertised positions.  Qualified excepted service applicants will not be rated and ranked with merit promotion applicants, and will be listed separately for each appointing authority.  SPO's can provide more specific information concerning eligibility for excepted service appointments.  Applicants applying for consideration under an excepted appointing authority are responsible for identifying the particular appointing authority under which consideration is requested.

B. Areas of Consideration. Managers will determine and extend areas of consideration to ensure the attraction of a diverse pool of highly qualified applicants in accordance with the Department Strategic Plan for Improving Diversity.  Managers should ensure that their employees on approved extended absence receive appropriate consideration for vacancies under their immediate jurisdiction.  An approved announcement system, as determined by the Department, will be used to advertise all competitive service vacancies with an area of consideration of departmentwide or greater.  For limited areas of consideration within a bureau, local methods of announcing a vacancy may be employed.

USGS Advertising Process

1. What is the minimum area of consideration for which a vacancy must be advertised?*

The minimum area of consideration (also referred to as the recruiting area) will be departmentwide in the local commuting area while the Career Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) regulations are in effect and there are special selection priority eligibles in the local commuting area of the position being filled. Otherwise, managers in consultation with the SPO, determine the area of consideration and how to distribute the vacancy announcement.  A vacancy announcement must be issued, even if the distribution of the announcement is limited.

2. How do applicants find out about current vacancies?

All USGS competitive service vacancies can be accessed via the Internet at http://www.usgs.gov/ohr/oars.html.

3. What is the minimum time that a merit promotion announcement must be open?

Ten work days for permanent positions; and five workdays for temporary and term appointments.

4. When must a decision be made in regard to the payment of relocation expenses?

The decision to pay or not pay moving and related expenses must be made prior to issuing the vacancy announcement.  Bureau guidance describing factors to consider and procedures to follow when making such determinations can be accessed at http://internal.usgs.gov/ops/hro/recruit/transexp.html.  A statement addressing the payment or nonpayment must be included in the vacancy announcement.

C. Factors to be Considered in Promotion or Placement.  All applicants will be evaluated to ensure that they meet the appropriate OPM qualification standards and time-in-grade requirements.  Bureaus will establish, and publicize in the appropriate vacancy announcement, cut off dates for applicants to meet qualification standards, and time-in-grade requirements for acceptance of applications.  Qualitative, job-related distinctions must be made among promotion and other competitive eligibles in terms of relative merit and ability and documented through the use of a crediting plan or other rating methodology. ,Consideration will be given to performance appraisals and incentive awards. The validity and propriety of selective and/or ranking factors must be clearly reflected and supported by a current position description of the job for which they are used.

USGS Rating Process

1. Must applicants meet all qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement?

Yes, applicants for USGS positions must meet all qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement, unless otherwise indicated on the individual announcement, to receive consideration.

2. Which applications get referred to the selecting official?*

If the job is not paneled, the well-qualified applicants are referred to the selecting official.  If the job is paneled, the best-qualified applicants are referred to the selecting official.  Selecting Officials may request that noncompetitive applicants be referred without being evaluated for more than minimum qualifications.

3. What should management consider in determining whether or not to panel applications?*

Management, in consultation with the SPO, may determine the well-qualified candidates without convening a panel.  Among the factors that managers may want to consider in determining whether or not to panel the applications are:  the number of applicants, the number of vacancies being filled from the announcement, past difficulty in filling similar positions, and how large a pool of applicants the manager feels he/she can interview.

4. What rating/ranking process will be used if management decides not to panel the candidates?*

When there is no panel, the well-qualified candidates are determined by identifying those applicants who exceed the minimum qualification requirements for any one KASOC, as identified in the crediting plan.  A personnelist or subject matter expert will make this determination.  The well-qualified candidates will be referred to the selecting official in alphabetical order on a merit promotion/referral certificate.

The selecting official has the choice of including or not including noncompetitive eligibles with the other merit promotion applicants when determining the well-qualified candidates.  However, the same process must be applied to all noncompetitive eligibles under consideration for any one vacancy.

5. What rating/ranking process will be used if management decides to panel those basically qualified candidates who have applied for a vacancy?*

Merit promotion panels evaluate the candidates' qualifications using a crediting plan to determine the best qualified group. Panel members will be given the 'Information Sheet to Panel Members' (attached), as a supplement to instructions provided by the SPO.  An SPO representative will be available to advise the panel on policies and procedures.  The best-qualified candidates will be referred to the selecting official in alphabetical order on a merit promotion referral certificate.

6. Who may serve on a merit promotion panel?*

Merit Promotion panel members will be subject matter experts (SME's) selected on the basis of their understanding of the requirements of the position being filled and should generally be of a grade level equivalent, or senior to, the grade level of the position. (A panel can consist of one SME who reviews and rates the applications.)  The selecting official of the position to be filled may not serve as a member of the promotion panel.  Exceptions will only be made in rare situations when no other SMEs are available to effectively and impartially assess the applicants' qualifications.  Special efforts will be made to identify a group of diverse panel members with appropriate subject matter expertise.  The selecting official, in consultation with the SPO, will identify individuals to serve as panel members based on the criteria stated in this chapter.

7. What is the difference between a quality ranking factor and a selective factor?

A quality ranking factor is a KASOC (refer to "crediting plan" under definitions) that is expected to significantly enhance performance in a position.  However, if an individual does not possess a particular quality ranking factor he/she is still eligible to be considered for the position.  Conversely, a selective factor is a KASOC, in addition to the OPM qualification standard, that is essential to successful performance in a position.  If an individual does not possess a selective factor, he/she is ineligible for further consideration for the position.

8. How are selective factors and quality ranking factors identified?

Selective and quality ranking factors are developed using a valid method of job analysis, and must be supported by the position description.  Through the job analysis, the major functions to be performed are identified and documented. Then KASOCs necessary to perform those functions are documented.  The identified KASOCs become the selective or quality ranking factors.  KASOCs cannot be overly restrictive in order to preclude otherwise qualified applicants from consideration (e.g. requiring experience applying a specific division's procedures when a candidate may have experience performing the same type of work utilizing another division's procedures and could readily learn the new process).  The job analysis is prepared by the selecting official, or his/her designee, in concert with the servicing personnel specialist.  KASOCs should be identified on the job analysis as selective or quality ranking factors.

9. Can one or more factors receive more weight than others?

Yes.  KASOCs may be weighted in ranking candidates when it can be documented that a specific KASOC is more important than others in terms of a position's requirements and in identifying the best qualified candidates.

D. Selection Procedures.  The selecting official will have an opportunity to choose from among an adequate number of best qualified candidates.  Methodology for determining cut off points for best qualified candidates will be left to bureau discretion.  Selecting officials have the right to select or not select from among candidates referred.  They also have the right to select from other appropriate sources.

USGS Selection Process

1. What is meant by "select(ing)" from other appropriate sources?

Other appropriate sources may include an OPM list of eligibles, reassignment, promotion, or reinstatement of an individual who does not have to compete for selection, or excepted service appointments (i.e. handicap, SCEP conversion, VRA).

2. Must interviews be conducted with all of the referred candidates?

No.  However, selecting officials are strongly encouraged to interview either in person or by telephone, all of the referred candidates.  Interviews may be conducted by the selecting official or his/her designee(s).  At a minimum, selecting officials must:

3. What is the time frame in which a selection can be made from a Merit Promotion Certificate?

Selections should be made within 120 days of the issuance of a certificate.  However, there may be circumstances that arise which will not allow for a selection to be made within this time frame.  In these situations, managers should be prepared to explain the reason for the delay should there be an inquiry.

4. How soon after selection of an employee for a vacancy must the employee be placed in the new position?

An employee selected should be released as promptly as possible to the new position.  Generally, this will be within 4 weeks after the signed merit promotion certificate identifying the selection is received in the SPO.  Some actions may be delayed due to required clearances such as drug testing and security, or other circumstances such as relocation.

5. How will applicants be notified of the results of the announcement?

Candidates who submit an application in response to a merit promotion announcement will be notified in writing or via email of the results of their application by the SPO.

6. What kind of information can be released to employees?

The following information may be released to an applicant or his/her designee when requested:

Whether the requesting applicant was qualified and whether his or her application/resume was referred to the selecting official for consideration; who was selected; the requesting applicant's own supervisory appraisal and rating on the ranking elements; procedures used to arrive at the final scores; cutoff scores; and any other information allowed by the Freedom of Information Act or the Privacy Act.

E. Records.  Appropriate records to allow for reconstruction of the action must be maintained for a minimum of 2 years.  In instances where some form of complaint has been filed concerning an action, these records will be maintained for a minimum of 2 years following resolution of the case.

USGS Records Policy

1. What documents are kept in the merit promotion file?*

At a minimum, the following information must be retained in a merit promotion file in the SPO:

2. How long must merit promotion files be retained in the Servicing Personnel Office?

Merit promotion files will be retained for a period of 2 years from the effective date of the personnel action that resulted from a selection made from the merit promotion/referral certificate.  If no selection is made from the certificate, the merit promotion file will be retained for a period of 2 years from the date the selecting official certified that there was no selection.  In instances where some form of complaint has been filed concerning an action, the merit promotion file must be retained for a minimum of 2 years following resolution of the case.  Merit promotion files not required to be maintained for more than 2 years may be retained for periods of more than 2 years, at the discretion of the SPO, when individual situations so warrant.

3. Application of Competitive Procedures.

A. Competitive procedures apply to the following actions:

(1) Permanent promotion to a higher-graded position or to a position with a higher full performance level than previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service.

(2) Temporary promotions for more than 120 days or details for more than 120 days to a higher-graded position or to a position with greater promotion potential than previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service.

(3) Selection for training which is part of an authorized training agreement required before an employee may be considered for promotion.

(4) Reassignment, transfer, or change to a lower-graded position with promotion potential greater than any position held on a permanent basis in the competitive service.

(5) Reinstatement to a permanent or temporary position at a higher grade or with a higher full performance level than any position previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service.

(6) Promotions due to the addition of substantive, new and higher-graded duties when the new position is not a clear successor to the old position or there are other employees serving in similar or identical positions within the organizational unit to whom the new duties could have been assigned.

B. Competitive procedures do not apply to the following actions:

(1) Upgrading of a position due to application of a new classification standard without a significant change in duties.

(2) Upgrading of a position resulting from the correction of an initial classification error.

(3) A promotion resulting from an employee's position being classified at a higher grade (with no further promotion potential) because of additional duties and responsibilities, commonly known as accretion of duties.  The noncompetitive upgrade requires the employee to continue to perform the same basic function in the new position that is a clear successor to and absorbs the duties of the old position.  In addition, there are no other employees within the organizational unit to whom the additional duties and responsibilities could have been assigned.

(4) Actions taken under Reduction in Force.

(5) Promotions without current competition when the employee competed earlier for an assignment intended to prepare the employee for the position being filled, and the intent was made a matter of record and made known to all potential candidates. These are commonly called career ladder promotions.

(6) Repromotion, permanent or temporary, to a grade previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service.

(7) Promotion, reassignment, transfer, change to lower grade, or reinstatement of an employee from a position with known promotion potential to another position having no higher promotion potential than any other position previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service.

(8) Promotion to a position with a representative pay rate equal to or lower than that of any position previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service.

(9) Details to higher-graded positions or temporary promotions not to exceed 120 days.

(10) Details made in 120 day increments up to 1 year to unclassified duties.

(11) Details made in 120 day increments to the same grade or lower-graded positions.

(12) Time-limited promotions made permanent when such a possibility was publicized in the original competition notice.

(13) Selection of a candidate not given proper consideration in a previous competitive promotion action.

USGS Accretion Guidance

1. Can an employee be promoted through accretion to a job with a higher career ladder (example: Can an employee in a GS-9 position with a career ladder at the GS-9 be noncompetitively promoted using accretion procedures to a GS-11 position with a GS-12 career ladder)?

No.  The Department's plan (B. (3) above) prohibits accretion promotion to jobs with more promotion potential.

USGS Career Ladder Guidance

1. What is meant by the career ladder of a position?

Stated simply, the career ladder identifies the range of grades for a position to which an employee may be promoted non-competitively.  For example, if the career ladder for a position is identified as GS-5 through GS-11, an employee assigned to that position at the GS-5 could be promoted to the GS-7, GS-9, and GS-11 without having to compete for the promotions.

2. How are career ladders established?

Career ladders are established based upon an assessment of work to be performed by individuals in each occupational series throughout the organization.  Career ladders are usually the same for positions within an occupational series, but differences can occur.

3. Can an employee move from one career ladder to another?

Yes.  An employee may compete for a position with a higher career ladder than their current position.  For example, a GS-9 hydrologist may work in an organization with project work that has been assigned a career ladder of GS-5 through GS-11.  If the hydrologist competes and is selected for a position with project work that has a career ladder of GS-11 through GS-13, then the GS-13 will become the highest grade to which the employee may be noncompetitively promoted.

4. Is an employee guaranteed promotion to all higher grades in the career ladder?

No.  Changes to the work requirements of the position or the organization to which the position is assigned might affect the opportunity for promotion to a higher grade.  Employee performance in terms of the level of independence and knowledge brought to the performance of duties is also considered by managers to determine whether an employee should be promoted in the career ladder.  In other words, promotions through the career ladder are not an employee entitlement.

4. Grievances. The bureau Personnel/Human Resources Office shall respond promptly to questions about the merit promotion program or about a specific selection action.  An employee of the Department may submit a grievance concerning merit promotion matters under the Department's grievance program (370 DM 771), or under a negotiated grievance procedure as appropriate, unless otherwise excluded from either process. If bargaining unit employees wish to grieve any merit action, they must use the negotiated grievance procedures rather than the Department grievance procedures. Where this Plan conflicts with a negotiated agreement, the agreement prevails.  However, nonselection from a list of properly ranked and certified applicants is not grievable under either process.  Further, an employee cannot use the grievance procedures and the EEO complaint process at the same time for the same case.

USGS Additional Guidance

1. What if an applicant fails to receive proper consideration under this plan due to an administrative error?

If an applicant fails to receive proper consideration in a competitive action and the erroneous action is allowed to stand, the applicant will be given priority consideration, for a period of 6 months, for the next appropriate vacancy (same title, series, grade, full performance level, and duty station) before any recruitment action is initiated.  It will be the responsibility of the SPO to ensure that the application of the individual receiving priority consideration is provided to the selecting official.  The selecting official must fully consider the individual based on the application referred but is not obligated to select him/her.

2. May applicants appeal merit promotion actions to the Office of Personnel Management?

No.  There is no right of appeal to OPM on merit promotion actions.  However, if an applicant believes that they were not provided due consideration because of reprisal or their race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age (over 40), disability, or sexual orientation, they may file a complaint through the bureau's Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO).  To have complaints considered through the OEO process, individuals must contact an OEO counselor within 45 days of becoming aware of the situation that is the basis for their complaint.

3. Do these merit promotion requirements apply to bargaining unit employees?

Yes.  However, if any part of this plan conflicts with a collective bargaining agreement, the agreement prevails.  Further, a bargaining unit employee may file a grievance under the negotiated grievance procedures rather than follow the Department's grievance procedures.

 

6/9/99 #3264, Replaces 2/1/80 FPM-219

Attachment 1
Part 370.335, Chapter 1

Information Sheet for Merit Promotion Panel Members

Thank you for agreeing to serve as a USGS merit promotion panel member/subject-matter expert (SME).  Careful and objective evaluation of candidates by SME's is an essential component of our merit promotion program.  Your participation in the process is welcome and appreciated.

Your goal as a panel member is to identify the best qualified candidates from among a group of basically qualified candidates.  This is done by using a crediting plan to rate each candidate for each KASOC.  When you review the crediting plan, you will find that it describes three different levels for each KASOC:  a 5-point level; a 3-point level; and a 1-point level.  You may also use the intervening point levels of 2 and 4.  If any KASOC designated as a selective factor (mandatory) is rated as a zero, once all panel members agree on the zero, the applicant is not qualified and no further rating of that candidate is necessary.  Candidates with zero ratings on quality ranking factors are not eliminated and you should continue to rate their applications on all other  KASOCs.

Each candidate will be rated on the basis of the information that he or she has provided in their application package, and only on that basis.  Ideally, that would include an application, a supervisory appraisal, and a narrative that relates the candidate's background directly to the KASOCs for the job.  In some cases, the KASOCs and/or the appraisal may not have been submitted with the application.  In those cases, rate the application based on the information that is available.

Rating each candidate on the basis of the application package is of the utmost importance to the integrity of the merit promotion program.  If, when you review the names of the candidates, you have any doubts about your ability to carry out fair and objective evaluations (or if you think others might question your objectivity), contact the personnel specialist and discuss the issue before you begin the rating process.  Similarly, any discussion of a candidate must be based on merit factors relating to the job to be filled.  Discussions of a candidate's age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or other nonmerit factor is inappropriate and prohibited.  Panel proceedings are confidential and must not be discussed with applicants or other individuals outside the meeting.  Questions about the panel should be referred to the servicing personnel specialist/assistant.

Once the rating process has been completed, you will review the scores for each KASOC for each candidate to ensure that there is no more than a 2-point spread between any panel members on any individual KASOC.  If you do find more than a 2-point spread exists, please discuss the application and agree, if possible, to reconcile the scores within 2 points.  After this process is completed, each panel member or the chairperson will transfer their total scores for each candidate to the summary rating sheet.  The chairperson will then total all panel members' scores and place them in the "Total Points" column of the summary sheet.  Next, compute the average points for each applicant by dividing the total points by the number of the panel members.  When this process has been completed, your servicing personnel specialist or assistant will assist in determining a cutoff point for the best qualified candidates.  (The cutoff point can be determined using either total scores or average scores.)  The best qualified list will be referred to the selecting official in alphabetical order without numerical ratings.


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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
URL: http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/370/370-335appa.html
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Content Information Contact: rwilliams@usgs.gov
Last modification: 08-Jan-2013@15:48 (kk)