Position Management & Classification

What is the Factor Evaluation System and why is it important?

The Factor Evaluation System (FES) is a method for assigning grades to non-supervisory positions in the General Schedule based on duties, responsibilities and qualifications required. FES consists of the level of supervision required for the position, the complexity of the job, the scope and effect, a statement of the work environment and several other factors. The FES is important because it is the basis for all decisions relating to position classification as well as other functions within position management including promotions, transfers, performance based actions, etc.


What is a Job Analysis?

The Job Analysis is a systematic and valid determination of the KSA’s and major requirements necessary for successful job performance based on the position’s duties and responsibilities. It consists of individual statements or phrases that describe what the job requires and the level of supervision. The data collected in the job analysis is used to establish the actual Position Description.


How is a job classified?

The supervisor prepares a position description and after his/her immediate supervisor has reviewed it, it is reviewed by Regional Human Resources staff to determine the title, series, and grade that best fits the duties, responsibilities and qualifications required by the position. Positions are classified using the Factor Evaluation System (FES) which involves duties and responsibilities, KSA’s, supervisory controls, complexity of job, scope and effect, physical demands of the position, etc. Wage Grade positions use a four-part system in the classification process based on the FES.


What is a “desk audit” and what does it involve?

A desk audit is a review, requested by the supervisor, of a specific position by Human Resources. The purpose of the desk audit is to determine if duties or responsibilities should be eliminated (or added) to accurately reflect the position's current grade or if the duties and responsibilities involve compensation at a higher grade. A desk audit can result in a downgrade.

The steps to obtain a desk audit are:

  • The employee raises the issue of changing or reviewing the existing PD to his/her supervisor.
  • The supervisor can provide contact information for a Regional Classification Specialist so the classification process and rationale can be explained to the employee.
  • If that is not satisfactory, the employee is informed that he/she has the option to make the request in writing to the supervisor.
  • If the supervisor agrees that the desk audit is warranted, he/she makes the request to the Regional Human Resource Specialist for an internal appeal, audit or review. In doing so, he/she is concurring that the assigned work that may be at a higher grade than the employee’s current position, that the work was necessary in light of the mission, and that it could not be assigned to a higher graded employee.
  • The decision is made by this review and the employee is notified.
  • The employee may then request an appeal to the Department of the Interior, the Service’s Policy Branch, or through OPM. OPM’s decision is final when responding to this external appeal.

Note: If the desk audit results in a change in minor duties, a DI-625 “Position Classification Amendment” is filled out by the supervisor documenting these changes. If it involves a major duty, it may warrant a grade change (accretion of duties). Additionally, the above steps are Region specific. In Region 9 for example, the employee can contact HR directly and they will notify the supervisor of the request.


What if an employee believes he/she is performing duties at a higher grade, raises the issue of the desk audit with his/her supervisor, and the supervisor refuses to allow a desk audit?

If the supervisor still requires the employee to perform those tasks he/she believes warrant a desk audit, the employee should continue to perform the tasks (to avoid a claim of insubordination), but can file a grievance through the FWS grievance system.


Are the results of the desk audit applied to the individual position, similar jobs at that work station, the entire region, or nationally?

The results of the desk audit apply only to the individual position being audited. In rare circumstances, the results may be applied to an entire workstation if it can be shown that everyone in that class of positions has the same legitimate concern prompting the request for the desk audit. An appeal that goes to OPM may affect others in an identical position after their decision.


What is accretion of duties?

“Accretion of duties” involves the non-competitive promotion of an employee whose position is reclassified at a higher grade because of the performance of additional duties and responsibilities (see Section 8, Merit Promotion Plan Handbook).


What are some pros of a desk audit?

  • The employee may receive the approval for the accretion of duties resulting in a grade increase.
  • The removal of certain duties which seem excessive or not related to the duties and responsibilities associated with the PD.
  • The position description would more accurately reflect the duties and responsibilities required.


What are some cons of a desk audit?

  • May determine that the position should actually be classified at a lower grade.
  • It may be determined that the position should not include certain duties and responsibilities associated with the PD which may then be removed, even if the employee enjoys performing them.

Note: If the result of this classification analysis is the position being downgraded, the employee may retain the previous grade for a two-year period. Also, the employee retains the current salary indefinitely - even though the position was downgraded.


Relating to desk audits and accretion of duties, what is not appealable?

The content or accuracy of the position description is not appealable. The accuracy of the classification standard is also not appealable. The reason these are not appealable is that these are considered to be a ‘management right’ and have been established by OPM. (Note: Classification appeals never go thru MSPB). If, however, the content of the PD is obviously inconsistent with the duties and responsibilities for which that position was established, the Bureau of Hearing & Appeals at DOI would consider reviewing the information.


Can a person be working at two different series or grade levels?

Yes. This is called a “mixed series”. Generally, the specific grade and classification of the position is based on which position (in the mixed series) requires more of the employee’s time on a percentage basis.


How many employees must you supervise and what percentage of your time do you have to spend supervising, in order to be referred to as a supervisor?

A supervisor can be responsible for as few as one employee and be classified as a supervisor. Generally, 25 % of the individual’s time must be spent in performance of supervisory responsibilities to be considered a supervisor. If an employee is to be assigned supervisory responsibilities for more than 25 % of their work time, the PD should be changed and an OF-8 filled out. However, under certain circumstances, a supervisor can supervise less than 25 % of the time. In these instances, it is coded differently in FPPS and the PD is written under a 9 Factor System. A code 4 on the SF-50 signifies a supervisory position where supervision occurs less than 25 % of the time. A code 2 signifies supervisory responsibilities more than 25 % of the time. A code 8 signifies that the employee is non-supervisory.


Is it permissible for a person going on a detail to be sent to a job which does not exist on any organizational chart?

Yes. However, if the detail is for more than 120 days and having that experience would make the employee (being detailed) more eligible or equipped for a future promotion or promotion potential, Merit Principles would require that merit selection procedures be used to decide who will be given the opportunity to be detailed.