Survey Manual

100.1 - Policies and Procedures for Organization Changes

This chapter describes the policies and procedures to be followed for all organization changes within headquarters and field offices of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), including the opening, closing, and relocation of field offices.


OPR: Admin/Office of Personnel

1. Purpose. This chapter describes the policies and procedures to be followed for all organization changes within headquarters and field offices of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), including the opening, closing, and relocation of field offices.

2. Policies.

A. It is departmental and USGS policy to establish and maintain sound organizational structures for effectively managing the functions required to accomplish departmental and USGS goals and objectives.

B. It is also the policy of the Department and the USGS to maintain field organizations and locations that are well organized, coordinated, and positioned to carry out the Department's mission with maximum effectiveness and efficiency. When considering the establishment or location of a field office, attention should be given to effective management and communications; cooperation with State, local, and other Federal Government organizations; impact on personnel; and the cost effectiveness of organizational alternatives. To the extent practical, field offices shall be located to operate efficiently and to meet clientele needs while effectively carrying out USGS responsibilities. Whenever possible, USGS field offices should collocate within a local area, either in the same or in adjacent buildings, to ensure economy in the use of required services. (See also SM 100.1.4C.)

3. Definitions.

A. Division. The first subordinate organizational component below the Office of the Director.

B. Office. Generally the first subordinate organizational component below a division.

C. Branch. Generally the first subordinate organizational component below an office.

D. Section. Generally the first subordinate organizational component below a branch.

E. Unit. Generally the first subordinate organizational component below a section.

F. First-Level Field Office. A first-level field office is the first subordinate organizational component below a division that is placed outside the headquarters structure and falls into one of the following two categories:

(1) A regional office or office of equivalent status that has responsibility for program and/or administrative activities within a geographically defined area; or

(2) A non-regionalized field office that reports to a headquarters organization and provides specialized services nationwide, such as administration, engineering, or research that is not limited to a specific geographic area.

G. Second-Level Field Office. A second-level field office is a subordinate organizational component below a first-level field office that is placed outside the structure of the first-level field office, except for traveling field teams. A second-level field office may be known by such various titles as district, subdistrict, State office, laboratory, project office, or field headquarters.

H. Temporary Field Office. A field office that, because of the nature of its work, is expected to be operational for no longer than 12 months.

I. Organization Change. Any change in the established structure of an organizational component, including the establishment of a new component, the transfer of significant functions from one component to another, the abolishment of an organizational component, the revision of servicing areas or boundaries, or a change in the title of a component.

4. Requirements.

A. Approvals.

(1) Approval by the Department.

(a) Any proposed organization change that would result in a change to the organization's description as published in the Departmental Manual requires prior approval and signature of the Assistant Secretary--Policy, Management and Budget before such changes may be implemented, even on an interim basis. The organizational structure and functions of USGS components down to and including the first echelon below the Division level (usually an office) are described in the Departmental Manual (120 DM Chapters).

(b) Prior approval by the Assistant Secretary--Water and Science is required for the opening, closing, or relocation of any permanent field office not at the level to be included in the Departmental Manual.

(2) Approval by the Director. All requests for departmental approval require the prior approval and signature of the Director, USGS.

(3) Preclearance by the Congressional Liaison Office. Opening, closing, or relocating field offices must be precleared by the USGS Congressional Liaison Office.

(4) Approval by the Division Chief. Changes in organization structure that do not require departmental approval may be approved by the appropriate division chief. This does not include opening, closing, or relocating field offices, but does include changes to headquarters and field organizations that are not reflected in the Departmental Manual. Personnel actions, regardless of organizational level, are subject to applicable personnel regulations and policies and the processing requirements of the servicing personnel office.

B. Organization Structure. Departmental policies, including standards for organization structure, are contained in 101 DM Chapters.

C. Federal Policies. The USGS must comply with governmentwide policies affecting organization structures and the location of field offices. These policies are stated in the directives described below.

(1) Regional Organization. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-105 requires that bureaus and offices with field organization structures comply with Standard Federal Region boundaries, subboundaries and headquarters cities.

(2) Space Management. Federal Property Management Regulations (FPMR) 101-17, FPMR 101-20, and Departmental Manual Part 425 require certain steps to be taken in planning changes to field organizations and locations. These steps include coordination with the General Services Administration (GSA) regarding space needs. (See SM 429.1)

(3) Rural Development. Notwithstanding the requirement to use headquarters cities of the Standard Federal Regions, Public Law 92-419 requires that first priority be given to the location of new offices and facilities in rural areas. A rural area is defined as an area outside the outer boundary of any city having a population of 50,000 or more and any adjacent urban areas with a population density of more than 100 persons per square mile. All other locations are classified as urban areas.

D. Implementation of Changes. In accordance with departmental requirements, no changes may be announced or enacted, no interim changes may be made, no funds may be reprogrammed, no requests for new space may be made, and no requests for personnel actions may be initiated until approval for the change is granted and the Division receives the approval in writing (101 DM 3.4B and 101 DM 4.4B). The Assistant Director for Administration will give a copy of this approval to the appropriate division chief and regional management officer.

5. Responsibilities.

A. The Assistant Director for Administration coordinates the approval of organization changes described in 4A(1) and (2) above, reviews and recommends appropriate action to the Director, and prepares such changes for publication. The Assistant Director for Administration assures that all proposed changes are in compliance with governmentwide and departmental policies and in consonance with sound organization theory, position management, 5 USC 71 Labor Management Relations, space and facilities guidelines, and other established requirements. The Office of Personnel has operational responsibility for these activities and should be consulted before submission of a request for a change to resolve any questions concerning the applicability of these policies.

In addition, the Office of Personnel will provide the following services if requested:

(1) Analyze and recommend an appropriate division of functions, organization and staffing, and skill mixes to accomplish assigned functions;

(2) Provide guidance concerning position management and the position management implications of proposed personnel actions and reorganizations;

(3) Conduct studies of special problems and develop systems, procedures, and policies to improve organizational effectiveness;

(4) Conduct research to develop and evaluate new management techniques, practices, and systems in conjunction with a proposed organization change;

(5) Conduct studies to evaluate organizational and management effectiveness; and

(6) Determine the applicability of and USGS compliance with Federal laws, regulations, and guidelines.

B. The Division requesting an organization or field office change provides all necessary information and coordinates the actions with appropriate administrative support organizations as described in SM 100.1.6 below to ensure the provision of services that will be required by the proposed change.

6. Procedures.

A. Initial Planning Phase. When an organization or field office change is being planned, the Division should contact the Assistant Director for Administration or regional management officer for advice and assistance regarding personnel implications, space requirements, organizational alternatives, and for guidance to speed approval of the change. Policy and procedural guidance is available from the Office of Personnel.

(1) The Division must coordinate with the Office of Personnel or the servicing personnel office on the following specific items:

(a) Position management and classification implications of any organization or field office change to ensure that necessary steps are taken to minimize any adverse impact on the work force;

(b) Organization or field office changes involving personnel relocation, reassignment, or termination of employment, so that preparations can be made for applying pertinent Office of Personnel Management regulations concerning the issuance of advance notice and informing employees of their rights regarding retirement eligibility, severance pay, and health benefits; and

(c) Responsibilities to labor unions whose members may be affected by the organization or field office change so that steps may be taken to fulfill obligations to unions with national consultation rights and to ensure that impact bargaining commitments to local unions are met.

(2) As appropriate, the Division must consult with the Office of Facilities and Management Services or the regional management officer on space and other general service needs. If a field office is to be established or relocated, division management must determine the geographic location for the proposed field office before submitting a request for approval. The request to approve the field office change should be initiated and approved before a request is submitted to the GSA regional office to locate specific office space. When an office is to be relocated, the moving office must initiate the request for approval in sufficient time to allow approval of the change before vacating their present space. The time required for locating new office space by the responsible GSA regional office usually takes between 9 months and 1-1/2 years. More information on space policies and procedures is contained in Departmental Manual Part 425 and SM 429.1

B. Submitting Requests for Change. The Division prepares the request for approval of organization changes described in paragraph 4A(1) above. The Division chief submits the request, in memorandum form, to the Assistant Director for Administration.

(1) Requests for changes in headquarters or first-level field office organization structure must contain all items listed in Appendix A.

(2) Requests for changes to second-level field offices must contain all items listed in Appendix B.

(3) Requests that require a change to the Departmental Manual must include an organization statement in the form of a Departmental Manual release and contain the information outlined in Appendix C.

C. Approval Process.

(1) The Assistant Director for Administration will forward all requests to the Office of Personnel to review proposed changes to assure that all requirements are met and to coordinate the proposal through the approval process.

(2) If a field office change is proposed, the Office of Personnel coordinates with:

(a) The servicing personnel office to assure that a position management review has been done, arrangements have been made to fulfill obligations to unions representing affected employees, and all personnel implications have been considered and resolved;

(b) The regional management officer to determine the availability of space in the proposed location; and

(c) The USGS Congressional Liaison Office for preclearance of the proposed change before submission to the approving official.

(3) The Office of Personnel prepares the formal request and submits the request through channels to the appropriate level for approval.

D. Implementation Process.

(1) The Office of Personnel notifies the Division and regional management officer when approval is received fr an organization or field office change.

(2) The Division consults with the Office of Personnel or the servicing personnel office on the following items as appropriate:

(a) Advance and final notice to employees;

(b) Classification of positions and qualifications of employees;

(c) Consultation with local unions; and

(d) Initiation of personnel actions.

(3) The Division sends a memorandum to the Office of Personnel requesting the establishment of or change to organization codes prior to initiating any personnel actions.

(4) The Division consults with the Office of Financial Management to make any necessary adjustments to the accounting system.

(5) The Division consults with the appropriate space and facilities office to arrange for space, renovations, telephones, moving employees, etc.

(6) The Division notifies the Payroll Coordinator in writing when an office is established, relocated, or abolished and it requires a change of address for payroll documents.