Develop policy in conjunction with agency resource group members, and provide interpretation of policies and regulations.
Advise and guide servicing personnel offices on statutory and regulatory requirements.
Serve as liaison with USDA, Office of Human Resources Management.
Negotiate the impact and implementation of the Merit Promotion Plan, according to applicable negotiated agreements, as requested.
Represent the agency during appeals and grievances, as appropriate.
Conduct human resources management evaluations and studies to determine compliance with federal, departmental, and agency regulations, policies, and procedures, and to recommend improvement strategies.
Compile data for reports or other informational purposes.
Remind employees periodically in various media (e.g., Internet, electronic mail, bulletin boards, newsletters) about the Merit Promotion Plan and where to find it.
Servicing Personnel Office
A servicing personnel office (SPO) is any office that has delegated authority to conduct merit promotion activities. The SPO has many merit promotion responsibilities, including recruitment, candidate evaluation, maintaining merit promotion files, and providing information to employees. The SPO's responsibilities are grouped and detailed in the tables below.
Regulatory responsibilities of SPO:
Implement the Merit Promotion Plan (MPP) according to USDA and agency regulations.
Implement the MPP according to appropriate provisions of negotiated agreements, where applicable.
Provide guidance to field personnel or administrative assistants/specialists.
Furnish reports or other information to MRP Human Resources, as requested.
Check for employees who are eligible for priority consideration.
Recruitment responsibilities of SPO:
Assist in establishing and filling positions.
Provide guidance to subject matter experts in development of job analyses, using the "Content Validity" method. (Refer to Department Personnel Manual (DPM) Chapter 335, Appendix C for more information.)
Prepare and advertise vacancy announcements in accordance with USDA requirements.
Advertise, where possible, career ladder positions in multiple grade increments, for example, GS-9/11/12 as recommended by the Civil Rights Action Team.
Ensure accuracy of vacancy announcement distribution and provide a copy of the announcement to the selecting official.
Ensure that all promotion eligible applications accepted for consideration have been postmarked by the closing date of the announcement. Date stamp all incoming applications and keep the envelopes (stapled to the application) of those received after the closing date.
Acknowledge receipt of applications.
Candidate evaluation responsibilities of SPO:
Ensure that candidates meet requirements stated in the vacancy announcement. For example, applicants must meet qualifications and timeingrade requirements within 30 days of the closing date of the announcement.
Evaluate or participate in the evaluation of candidates based on materials submitted.
Give consideration to performance appraisals and awards during the evaluation process to the extent that they provide further evidence of the level of possession of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s).
Protect the confidentiality of numerical ratings given to candidates during the evaluation process. This information will not be provided to selecting officials or other unauthorized individuals.
Promotion panel responsibilities of SPO:
Provide instructions to promotion panel members.
Ensure that panel members meet requirements of the USDA Merit Promotion Plan and are not potential candidates for the position to be rated.
Provide civil rights representatives and/or union representatives an opportunity to observe promotion panel activities when formal panels are held.
Candidates referral responsibilities of SPO:
Provide technical advice and guidance to managers, supervisors, and employees on how the merit promotion process works.
Identify the best qualified candidates and refer to the selecting official.
Accept applications from noncompetitive candidates and refer them to the selecting official (if candidates meet basic qualification requirements).
Issue Promotion/Selection Certificates to selecting officials.
Refer applicants for all grade levels for which they qualify and indicate they will accept.
Ensure there are no eligible candidates on the Repromotion Priority Placement List or the Department Reemployment Priority List before final selections are approved. (See Title 5 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and DPM, Chapters 330 and 351.)
Establish effective dates for promotions, reassignments, appointments, etc. Consult with supervisors/managers when setting effective dates. Obtain release dates of employees coming from another agency, department, or office.
Merit promotion file maintenance responsibilities of SPO:
Maintain official merit promotion files in accordance with USDA and mission area requirements.
Maintain a job analysis library and protect the confidentiality of the crediting plans. Provide sanitized copies, as requested, to subject matter experts as guidance in developing job analyses.
Information sharing responsibilities of SPO:
Provide to requesting employees:
MPP and supporting regulations, e.g., Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Qualifications Handbook, MRP Human Resources Desk Guide (HRDG), Department Personnel Manual (DPM).
Qualifications required for a position.
Details of the evaluation techniques (level definitions are equivalent to an answer key and must be kept confidential).
Answers on whether employee, when evaluated for a position, was considered basically qualified, or among the best qualified.
Name of person selected.
Ways the employee might improve chances for future promotion. Refer inquiring employees to their supervisors for additional guidance.
Access to this Subchapter of the HRDG or other related regulations.
Manager’s and Supervisors’ Responsibilities
The following is a summary of managers’ and supervisors’ responsibilities in implementing the Merit Promotion Plan.
Encourage employees to pursue career opportunities and become familiar with various sources of federal job information.
Offer details across program/activity lines.
Ensure all employees are informed of the MPP by providing access to the MPP when requested.
Release selectees within 30 days of receiving a request, unless there is a mutually agreeable arrangement to do otherwise.
Determine if (and how much) administrative time may be used to complete applications. Grant time in a consistent manner.
Managers’ and supervisors’ responsibilities that relate to promotion/placement certificates are outlined in the following chart:
BEFORE receiving certificates:
AFTER receiving certificates:
Notify the servicing personnel office (SPO) as soon as possible of a vacancy by preparing and submitting SF-52, Request for Personnel Action, and position description, or requesting preparation/submission through the appropriate administrative office.
Consider position management objectives.
Plan recruitment with the SPO, when appropriate.
Consider various employment/placement options.
Work with SPO to complete a job analysis.
Support affirmative employment goals and objectives.
Consult with appropriate local Civil Rights staff, as needed.
Work with the SPO to select the appropriate expanded area of consideration, if needed.
Advise SPO of any special distribution of the vacancy announcement.
Recommend promotion panel members, if one is needed. Panels will be diverse in terms of race, national origin, and gender. Members should be at or above the full performance level of the vacant position and not a candidate for the position or the selecting official.
Make a selection, if desired, from the list of candidates on the certificate(s). Select eligible candidate(s) from agency’s internal Priority Placement List, and if selecting from outside USDA, from the USDA Reemployment Priority List, or give written justification for nonselection.
Conduct interviews, when needed.
Check employer references before making a final selection and advise candidate you are calling them.
Set tentative effective dates. All selections and effective dates must be confirmed by the SPO.
Verify with SPO that all approvals/clearances have been obtained before releasing names of selectee(s).
Document reasons for not using a certificate.
Meet timeframe for return of certificate or request extension.
When you apply for vacancies under the merit promotion process, you are expected to fulfill certain responsibilities:
Perform your assigned duties and do not allow pursuit of other employment to interfere with this responsibility.
Complete a legible application listing all applicable experience and education when applying to a vacancy announcement.
Follow all special requirements stated on the vacancy announcement.
Address the knowledge, skills, and abilities (competencies) listed in the announcement in order to ensure full consideration.
Ensure that the completed application is postmarked by the closing date.
Employees Need to Know
You are entitled to discuss your career plans periodically with your supervisor and ask for guidance on how to improve chances for future promotions. You may apply for any other jobs in which you are interested.
When you apply for other positions, you are entitled to know:
If you were basically qualified and/or considered for the position.
If you were grouped among the best qualified candidates.
Who was selected for a promotion.
You may submit a formal grievance if you believe that the agency failed to follow appropriate merit promotion procedures. Contact the MRP Employee and Management Relations Branch for specific information.
You are not entitled to:
See the application, performance appraisal, or evaluation sheet of any other employee.
See the crediting plan used to evaluate candidates.
Submit a formal grievance about failure to be selected for promotion from a group of properly evaluated candidates.
Where To Find Job Information
For more information on applying for a Federal job, refer to pamphlet OF510, “Applying for a Federal Job.”
For more information on vacancy announcements within the USDA/MRP agencies (AMS, APHIS, and GIPSA):
Access the MRP Human Resources web site at www.aphis.usda.gov/mb/mrphr
Call MRP’s Faxback number (800-585-7407 or 612-370-2358) to have a summary listing or individual announcements faxed to you.
Suggestions for Effective Applications
When completing an employment application, you should:
Include the following personal information: full name, address, phone number, Social Security Number, citizenship information, proof of competitive status (e.g., SF-50), and highest civilian grade held.
Include an addendum which specifically addresses the knowledge, skills, and abilities listed on the announcement.
Include a copy of your latest performance appraisal or provide a statement in writing to certify that your rating is at least Fully Successful and the date of rating (e.g., “Fully Successful, 1999").
When describing your work experience:
Describe the work done in your own words. Do not attach position description(s). Be specific and fully explain your role and level of responsibility in all projects or activities.
Include all relevant experience, paid or not.
Include the following information about each job: title, duties, accomplishments, employer’s name and address, supervisor’s name and phone number, month and year of starting and ending dates, hours worked per week, and salary.
Address your education:
Include information such as the high school and college attended, dates and degrees received or semester hours completed.
Send a copy of college transcripts if requested on the announcement, and be prepared to provide the official transcripts before entering the new position.
When you complete the application, proofread it with a fresh perspective.
Did you emphasize skills that are shown as needed in the vacancy announcement?
Were you concise and specific? Did you use active verbs and first person narratives?
Did you include the required supplemental information ?
Is the application neat and legible? Are the pages in the correct order?
Prepare a separate application for each position for which you are applying. Include the announcement number on each application, and send it on its way. Good luck!