HRDG 4335 - Merit Promotion Plan - Introduction

HRDG 4335 - Merit Promotion Plan - Introduction

Subchapter 4335
Merit Promotion Plan 



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Purpose of this Subchapter

This Human Resources Desk Guide Subchapter:

  • Provides operating procedures and instructions for employees, supervisors, managers, and human resources staffs to follow in implementing the USDA and Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) Merit Promotion Plan.
  • Provides managers, supervisors, and employees information needed to fulfill their roles in implementing the Merit Promotion Plan.
  • Establishes the responsibilities of the MRP Servicing Personnel Offices (SPO) and MRP Human Resources Service Enhancement (policy) office.
Related Regulations This Subchapter supplements the following references. You may refer to them for more information on merit promotion principles and practices.
Reference: Description:
Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 335 Policy for all Federal agencies
Department Personnel Manual, Chapter 335, Appendix B USDA Merit Promotion Plan (PDF)
Policy and procedures for all USDA agencies
MRP Directive 4335.1 (PDF) Policy for USDA, Marketing and Regulatory Programs (AMS, APHIS, and GIPSA)
Merit Promotion Objectives and Guidelines

The objectives of the merit promotion process are to:

  • Present the best qualified candidates to the selecting official;
  • Give fair, equitable, and appropriate consideration to all candidates;
  • Provide incentives for employees to improve their performance and develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities; and
  • Provide career opportunities.

The underlying principle and requirement behind all merit promotion processes is that promotions be made on a fair basis and that practices support efforts to select the best qualified candidates for promotion.

Note: An employee is not guaranteed a promotion nor must positions be filled by promotion.

Considering Other Recruitment Sources

Supervisors and managers are not required to fill positions through merit promotion. You may also consider the following eligibles at the same time you are considering merit promotion candidates. If you choose to select a candidate from the first three non-competitive options listed below, be aware that the candidate may not be appointed to a position that is currently, or has potential to become, a higher grade than that which the candidate has previously competed and been selected. Alternative options are:

  • Reinstatements,
  • Reassignments,
  • Transfers,
  • Special hiring authority eligibles, and/or
  • Office of Personnel Management Certificates of Eligibles.

Overview of Merit Promotion Process

The table below explains the merit promotion process. The process may begin when a vacancy occurs, or when it is known that a position will soon become vacant.

A selecting official may consult with the SPO to resolve questions he/she may have about any step of the process.

Step Who: Does What:
1 Supervisor Prepares (or designates a subject matter expert to prepare) a job analysis.
2 Supervisor Sends a Request for Personnel Action (SF52), position description, Form AD332 (if new or revised position) and Job Analysis, and GS-14 and above prior approvals, as appropriate, to the SPO. Contact your servicing classification/staffing specialist for information relating to the prior approval process.
3 SPO Classifies position's series and grade level (if new or revised duties).
4 SPO Announces vacancy after checking Agency Repromotion Priority Placement List and USDA Reemployment Priority List.
5 Applicants Send appropriate application package, with all necessary paperwork, during the open period.
6 SPO Reviews applications for basic eligibility and notifies ineligible candidates.
7 Supervisor Recommends promotion panel members (if needed).
8 SPO (or Panel) Rates and ranks competitive candidates.
9 SPO Refers appropriate candidates to selecting official. Note: CTAP (Career Transition Assistance Plan) eligibles get priority referral, then Best Qualified are referred.
10 Supervisor Selects candidate (may interview candidates and/or check employer references).
11 Supervisor Obtains required internal MRP management approvals (e.g., GS-14 and above).
12 Supervisor Tentatively offers position to selectee. (SPO extends official offer.)
Returns completed merit promotion certificate to SPO.
13 SPO Verifies eligibles and confirms selection.
Obtains release date from selectee's current employer.
Sends official notices to selectee and nonselectees.
Collaborates with manager/supervisors to set effective dates.
Extends official offer of employment.
Notifies selectee of official start date.

The following terms appear throughout the text of this document. The USDA Merit Promotion Plan is another resource for term definitions.

Effective Date - The date that a personnel action becomes effective. This date is determined by the personnel staffing specialist in the servicing personnel office after review and approval of the personnel action. The effective date of the personnel action cannot be made before the date the staffing specialist approved the action.

Full Performance Level - The top grade of a career ladder of a particular position (e.g., GS-9 is the full performance level of a GS-5/7/9 position).

Level Definition - Concise statements or examples of the kind of training, experience, etc., that would provide evidence of the applicant's performance at a given level.

Local Commuting Area (LCA) - The geographic area that usually constitutes one area for employment purposes. It includes any population center (or two or more neighboring ones) and the surrounding localities in which people live and can reasonably be expected to travel back and forth daily to their usual employment.

Non-Competitive - Exceptions to regulations requiring competition for federal employment. Individuals eligible for non-competitive appointments (called “non-competitive eligibles”) include:

  • Veterans Readjustment Act eligibles,
  • Reinstatement eligibles who had held a grade at or above the full performance level of the position,
  • Current federal employees at or above the full performance level of the position,
  • Former Peace Corps volunteer/employees,
  • Compensably disabled veterans, and
  • Individuals eligible for appointments for persons with disabilities.

Program - A separately managed portion of the agency, responsible to the head of the agency, which carries out a major function of the agency (e.g., AMS Cotton, APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine, GIPSA Grain Inspection).

Subject Matter Expert - A supervisor, personnelist, or employee (usually at the same or higher grade level of the position being filled) who knows the duties and responsibilities of the job as well as the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform the work.

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