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Common Workforce Planning Terms and Definitions

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Action Item
Specific activity assigned to an individual or group for completion within specified time frame.

Action Plan
A collection of strategies to address the significant workforce gaps identified during the gap analysis phase of the workforce planning cycle. The strategies are typically documented in a written action plan.

Attrition Rate
Attrition is employee losses (expressed as a percentage) due to retirements, resignations, reassignments, deaths, etc., in a fiscal year. Federal Personnel Payroll System (FPPS) captures transfers into the USGS, but not out of the USGS, so transfers out of the USGS are not included. Retirements are included in the attrition rate, but are analyzed and projected separately.

The total number of staffed, permanent positions (except where temporaries or contractor personnel are also prevalent) identified at the beginning of the WFP process.

Underlying characteristic of an employee (skills, body of knowledge, behaviors, etc.).

Competitive Sourcing
A detailed procedure for comparing the cost of using government, contract or reimbursable employees and other resources to perform commercial work. OMB A-76 competitions are required—as a matter of law — prior to converting any commercial work to or from in-house, contract or reimbursable performance.

Organization's forecast of required staff size and skill mix needed to carry out its strategic objectives for the designated planning period.

Distributions allow the classification or categorization of data in a relationship, and show the full range of data unmasked, unlike averages.

Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act
As implemented by OMB, directs federal agencies to submit each year an inventory of all inherently governmental and commercial activities (military and civilian) performed by federal employees.

FTE (Full Time Equivalent)
FTE, or Full Time Equivalent, is not the same thing as a count of employees. FTE reports how many hours are worked, not how many employees do the work. For FTE reporting purposes, one FTE (or work year) equals 2,080 work hours, which is equivalent to one year's full time work schedule (no overtime). One FTE for one Pay Period equals .04 (2,080 hours divided by 26 Pay Periods).

Full Performance Level (FPL)
The fully functional grade level of a properly classified position. Also described as the target grade level in a career ladder position.

The amount by which workforce needs (future state) exceed current resources. These resources should be essential for the organization to carry out its mission and accomplish its strategic goals. Whether a resource is critical or not is determined by its inherent significance to the organization, not by its external availability. Gap can be a positive number indicating surplus workforce or a negative number indicating unmet projected positions.

Government Performance Results Act (GPRA)
Statute from 1993 where agencies are required to prepare annual performance plans that set out measurable goals that define what will be accomplished during a fiscal year.

LOE (Length of Eligibility)
LOE represents the length of time USGS employees remained employed in the USGS after they first became eligible to retire.

The measures and measurement methods by which setting and accomplishing human capital action objectives are defined and assessed for success. Measuring includes establishing baseline (current state) data and subsequently measuring progress toward accomplishing the stated objective.

Mission Critical Occupation (MCO)
An occupation that is considered core to carrying out an organization's mission. Such occupations are usually directly associated with the primary mission of the organization without which mission-critical work cannot be accomplished.

Multi-sector Workforce The utilization of various workforce sectors – e.g. contractors, federal civil servants, volunteers, cooperators, partners, emeritus, paid or non-paid interns and other components - to provide the right mix of skills and flexibility to meet the organization's mission.

Occupational Series
A pay schedule and numerical designation given to position(s) that have similar specialized work and qualification requirements.

Organizational Level
The administrative subdivision to which employees are assigned.

Projected Workforce Supply
The projected number of employees by series, title, and FPL grade available in the future based on projected retirements and attrition trend data.

Retention Rate is the percentage of the count of all employees that did not separate in the Fiscal Year. This metric does not track the retention of individual employees. It also does not indicate the level of turnover resulting from employee initiated versus employer initiated actions, or specific reasons for terminations.

Retirement Projection
The number of employees anticipated being lost due to retirement.

An observable and measurable expertise needed to perform a task.

Staffing Assessment
The determination by the organization of the ideal staff size and skill mix needed to carry out its strategic objectives.

Strategic Planning
Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy or direction and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. The resulting document is called the strategic plan.

Strategy An approach to addressing an issue.

Succession Planning
A deliberate and systematic effort designed to ensure the continuous effective performance of an organization. The effort makes provisions for the development and replacement of key leaders and other key personnel over time — ensuring continuity in leadership positions and encouraging individual achievement. Succession planning is an essential subset of workforce planning.

Supply Analysis is the determination of an organization's current staff demographics to include information such as staff size, skill mix, age, gender, race, tenure, retirement, eligibility, turnover, location, and trends.

The amount by which employee supply exceeds needs or requirements.

The Turnover Rate of organizations can identify areas needing corrective action, such as skill gaps or supervisory training. High Turnover Rates correspond with higher costs of recruitment and selection, loss of skills, training and knowledge, and loss of productivity during replacement. The Turnover Rate does not differentiate between employee and employer-initiated separations, or the reasons for the separations.

The Adjusted Turnover Rate removes the impact of new hires, which make up the majority of gains. The result is an estimate of losses which factors out resignations that come from new hires within the first Year of Service. Most new hires will be lost within the first 5 Years of Service.

Workforce Flexibility
The workforce is made of up different types of employees, i.e. permanent, other than permanent, volunteers, contractors. The use of Other than Permanent appointments (Temporary and Term) increases USGS's flexibility in getting work done by meeting changing needs through using all employment options. An organization's ability to quickly expand or contract in anticipation or as a result of program changes, reduced budgets, etc. is to a degree based upon the type of appointments (permanent, term or temporary) of the workforce. The occupational category that provides the most flexibility is Science Technical, where the USGS has traditionally utilized a large student workforce.

Workforce Plan
A long term (three to five year) plan that identifies anticipated workforce needs, including strategies to meet those needs, and performance targets that measure success in meeting those goals. The goal of the workforce plan is to have the right people, across the organization, in the right place at the right time.

Workforce Planning (WFP)
Workforce planning is an organization's process for ensuring "the right people are in the right place at the right time." It takes a long-term view (three to five year) of organizational needs and how those needs may change based on internal and external factors. Workforce planning begins with the identification of the organization's strategic direction; an analysis of the present workforce (Supply); an identification of the future workforce needed to meet the strategic direction (Demand); a comparison of the present workforce to the future needs (Gaps/Discrepancies); the strategy to address those discrepancies (Action Planning); and an evaluation to assure the workforce direction remains valid and objectives are being met.

Workforce Planning Team
A group of individuals with multi-disciplinary backgrounds involved in activities within their respective organizational level and who can ensure the right skills are in the right location at the right time to address mission accomplishment.


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