Skip to main page content.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the 80% criterion mean?

How do I find the right SPD?

Can my Servicing Personnel Office question the selection of an SPD?

What if I want to add or change duties in the SPD?

What if there aren’t any SPDs that describe the work of my position?

What if I would like to establish a new SPD?

What is a desk audit and how does it apply to SPDs?

How are the grade, occupational series, and position title determined?

Can I assign my own title to a position?

What does the 80% criterion mean?

At least 80% of the duties described in the SPD are performed at least 80% of the time for the PD to be accurate. This means up to 20% of an employee’s time can be spent on responsibilities not detailed in the SPD. The SPD is not a source of detailed information, but provides a general overview of the work while highlighting the major grade controlling duties assigned.

How do I find the right SPD?

Selecting the right SPD can be challenging. Selecting an SPD requires more than only reviewing the position responsibilities and position factors. A position management review should also occur.

SPDs should be selected after considering the following criteria:

  1. The reporting structure, or chain of command, for the position;
  2. The scope of the position’s responsibilities;
  3. The supervisory to employee ratio;
  4. The impact of this position on other positions;
  5. The overlap of position responsibilities between multiple positions; and
  6. Who this position supervises, if it’s a supervisory position.

To select a PD at the correct grade level, consider the mission of the organization where the position is located, the size of the organization, authorities or functions delegated, the scope and impact of the position’s responsibilities, and other important information found in the classification factors of the PD.

For example, the context of the position is very important in selecting the correct SPD. A statement such as “develops budget requests” could represent a GS-9 for a refuge or a GS-12 for a Regional Office. When the scope of the position is complicated by multi-year or national programs, the grade could be impacted as well. The organizational level alone does not indicate the grade of the position; however, work performed at different organizational levels does have different level of complexity and require different levels of knowledge.

Although the words may be right (as reflected in the duties and responsibilities of the SPD), the SPD may not be the right fit for your organization. Changing one word from agency to region may impact the classification of that position. SPDs should be chosen after careful consideration. It’s a supervisor’s responsibility to contact your local HR Office to better understand position classification and position management, clarify the intent of the SPD, or confirm the appropriate use of an SPD in their particular situation.

Can my Servicing Personnel Office question the selection of an SPD?

Yes, your Servicing Personnel Office has the authority to question the selection of an SPD. Your HR Specialist is trained in classification and position management, and is familiar with the classification standards. They may ask you to explain why you selected a specific SPD, or to explain your selection with the occupational series or the grade.

A PD is the official record of the major duties and responsibilities assigned to a position. If the PD does not accurately describe the work performed, it can have an adverse impact on the employee and the unit. For example, if the SPD selected overstates the duties and responsibilities required of the employee, it may require additional qualifications of applicants that can screen out good candidates, and it may misrepresent the position and the employee may misunderstand the position expectations. These situations may lead to repeated unsuccessful recruitment attempts or high turnover rates, both of which are costly to the organization and stressful for the manager and the employees in the unit.

Occasionally a manager will want to use a higher graded position to attract candidates to a remote location, attempt to match non-Federal employee salaries, or to retain a long-time, strong performing employee. The classification system is not designed as a tool for these situations. There are other compensation flexibilities that can be used in the situations to meet your objective. Talk to your local HR Office about available compensation flexibilities.

It’s also good to remember that higher graded positions are more expensive, including increased salary cost, the government contribution to benefits, and performance awards that are based on a percentage of salary. Talk to your local HR Office about the long-term fiscal consequences of high grades.

What if I want to add or change duties in the SPD?

An SPD Amendment details a unique duty or special condition that:

  1. Is necessary for the position to successfully perform the work (i.e. motor boat operator); and
  2. Does not impact the position’s pay plan, title, series, or grade.
SPD Amendments may include adding a special license or certification requirement.

Amendments are not required to assign similar work that is within the scope to the duties and responsibilities described within an SPD. Amendments are not appropriate for assigning substantial duties (more than 20%). If a substantial duty or responsibility is being added to the position, a new PD is required. Managers can use an SPD as a baseline for developing a new PD. New PDs need to undergo the regular classification review.

Normally, SPD Amendments are not needed; however, if a manager/supervisor elects to use an SPD Amendment that amendment should be submitted with the SPD request using form DI-625. Standard SPD Amendments are found in the SPD Library.

Remember, PDs do not need to describe every duty performed by the employee. PDs should include major duties (at least 20%) that are rated for performance; require special skills, licenses, or certifications; or are comparable.

Please note: Amendments to positions with special retirement coverage must be submitted to the Firefighter and Law Enforcement Officer Retirement Team at the DOI Firefighter and Law Enforcement Special Retirement Resource Center for approval prior to use.

What if there aren’t any SPDs that describe the work of my position?

The SPD Library is not all inclusive and it’s possible that your position isn’t covered by an existing SPD. In this case, a new PD will need to be developed. Some regions have Regional SPDs available for use. Before developing a new PD, contact your Regional HR Office to see if a Regional SPD can be used for your position.

What if I would like to establish a new SPD?

New PDs can be developed through a variety of methods. It’s recommended that before you begin drafting a new PD, contact your local HR Office for advice and guidance on how to proceed. New PDs undergo a classification review to accurately classify the position. When the draft PD is ready for classification review, the HR Office will need:

  • Draft Position Description
  • Signed Organizational Chart
  • Approved FPPS Action
  • Signed OF-8 (one for each grade level requested)
    Please contact your local HR Office for assistance completing an OF-8.

The following products are not required for classification; however, they will be required for staffing. While classification is working on your action, it may help save time overall if you develop these additional products concurrently. Your local HR Office can provide samples and guidance in developing these products.

  • Job Analysis
  • Crediting Plan

What is a desk audit and how does it apply to SPDs?

A desk audit is a tool used by HR Specialist to gather information about a position. It is most often done when an Accretion of Duties (AOD) request is submitted. The information gathered is used to determine the appropriate pay plan, occupational series, title, and grade of the position.

Managers and supervisors may use an SPD when requesting an upgrade to an existing encumbered position when the work seemingly matches the duties of an SPD and the SPD is graded at a higher level than the existing encumbered position. In these cases, the servicing HR Office must conduct a desk audit in accordance with merit promotion principles.

How are the grade, occupational series, and position title determined?

The Supervisor and HR Specialist determine the grade, occupational series, and position title. The Supervisor is responsible for accurately describing the work performed and the level of responsibility that the position will have. The HR Specialist analyzes this information and using the Classification Standards published by the Office of Personnel Management, classifies the position, assigning the appropriate series, title, and grade, for the type and level of work.

Classification is not done in a vacuum and position management considerations may also impact the grade, series, and title. Position management looks at the best organizational structure that combines the necessary skills and abilities of positions in the organization to effectively carry out the FWS mission. Position management looks at the impact of this position on other positions in the office and the program.

Can I assign my own title to a position?

The Office of Personnel Management, through Classification Standards, prescribes specific titles for most occupational series. You can add an organizational title (for example, Project Leader) to block 16 of the OF-8, PD Cover Sheet.

SPD Library | What is the SPD library? | What is the FWS policy on the use of SPDs? | Frequently Asked Questions | Classification Portal