UNCLASSIFIED (U)

3 FAM 2300
Employment and Promotion

3 FAM 2310 

MERIT PROMOTION AND PLACEMENT PROGRAM

(CT:PER-1012;   08-26-2020)
(Office of Origin:  GTM/CSTM)

3 FAM 2311  GENERAL

3 FAM 2311.1  Authorities

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Authorities include:

·         5 U.S.C. 2301;

·         5 U.S.C. 3301;

·         5 U.S.C. 3302;

·         5 U.S.C. 3330;

·         5 U.S.C. 3361

·         5 U.S.C. 7106

·         5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(6);

·         5 CFR 297.501;

·         5 CFR 300;

·         5 CFR 315;

·         5 CFR 330; and

·         5 CFR 335

3 FAM 2311.2  Guidance

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

The links in this document provide the ability to directly access Federal laws, rules and regulations and other applicable internal policies and procedures that detail the provisions outlined in this FAM.

3 FAM 2311.3  Policy

(CT:PER-1012;   08-26-2020)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. This document establishes Department-wide policy and guidance for the U.S. Department of State’s Merit Promotion and Placement Plan.  It conforms to the policy and procedural requirements of 5 CFR 335, Promotion and Internal Placement and must be used in conjunction with the Department's Policy Memorandums and Guidance issued by the Office of Civil Service Global Talent Management (GTM/CSTM).

b. The objectives of this plan are to:

(1)  Provide for an open, systematic and equitable assignment system that assures management that positions are filled with the best qualified individuals available and assures applicants that positions are filled according to merit factors that give appropriate consideration to Equal Employment Opportunity objectives. All standards used and judgments made in identification, evaluation, qualification or selection of applicants will be based solely on job related criteria. This prohibits any consideration on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, age, disability and genetic information, personal relationships, political patronage, or nepotism;

(2)  Ensure management is aware of his/her right to determine the method by which vacant or newly established competitive service positions will be filled. This program is just one method available to management in filling vacant positions in the competitive service.  Other methods include career promotion, reassignment, and/or use of special non-competitive placement and appointment authorities. Merit promotion placement may be used alone or in concert with other methods of filling vacancies; and

(3)  Obtain and retain the best-qualified workforce available.

3 FAM 2311.4  Position Coverage

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. The program applies to all competitive service positions in the general schedule, GS-1 through GS-15 or the wage grade equivalent.  Although there is no requirement to do so, excepted service positions may also be filled through the use of the Merit Promotion plan.

b. Separate provisions for positions in bargaining units may be negotiated with the exclusive representative for the Unit and will be contained in the contract for the Unit.

3 FAM 2312  FUNCTIONAL Responsibilities

3 FAM 2312.1  Human Resource Service Provider (HRSP)

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

In accordance with delegation of authority, the Human Resource Service Provider (HRSP) is responsible for:

(1)  Adhering to the merit promotion and placement program requirements to ensure the provisions of this program and 5 CFR 335 are met;

(2)  Advising managers, subject matter experts and selecting officials about the provisions of the program;

(3)  Avoiding violations of merit system principles, prohibited personnel practices and ensuring compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations and other applicable internal policies and procedures;

(4)  Ensuring public notice requirements are met in accordance with 5 CFR 330.103;

(5)  Collaborating with the subject matter expert (SME) and/or selecting official to develop applicant assessment procedures which are in compliance with 5 CFR 300(a);

(6)  Collaborating with the subject matter expert (SME) and/or selecting official in the development of valid and reliable assessment tools that are consistent with the technical standards in the Uniformed Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP), 29 CFR 1607;

(7)  Partnering with the subject matter expert (SME) and/or selecting official to identify the qualification requirements for the position to be filled and provide guidance and assistance with the selection and weighting of the self-assessment occupational questions;

(8)  Evaluating applicants based on the Office of Personnel Management General Schedule (GS) Qualification Standards or Federal Wage (WG) System Qualifications and conducting a thorough analysis of the applicant’s application and responses to the applicant’s self-assessment (i.e., occupational questionnaire, crediting plan);

(9)  Notifying all applicants of the status of their application at key stages of the application process (i.e., 4-point notification); and

(10) Validating selections in accordance with laws, rules and regulations.

3 FAM 2312.2  Subject Matter Experts (SME)

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

The Subject Matter Expert (SME) is responsible for:

(1)  Collaborating with the servicing HR Specialist to conduct the job analysis, developing valid and reliable applicant assessment tools (i.e., self-assessment occupational questionnaires, crediting plan), and providing input on the qualification requirements for the position to be filled;

(2)  Assisting with the selection and weighting of the self-assessment occupational questionnaire and recommending any necessary selective placement factors to be considered prior to recruitment;

(3)  Serving on the interview panel as a recommending official, as needed; and

(4)  Maintaining confidentiality of the assessment tool(s) and applicant’s information during and following the recruitment and hiring process.

3 FAM 2312.3  Selecting Officials

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Selecting officials are responsible for:

(1)  Complying with merit system principles and applicable laws, rules and regulations, and avoiding prohibited personnel practices;

(2)  Anticipating staffing needs and consulting with human resources to ensure timely submission of documents necessary to begin the recruitment and hiring process;

(3)  Engaging in identifying the qualifications for the position to be filled and documenting the justification for use of and importance of any selective placement factor(s) used during the evaluation process;

(4)  Collaborating with human resources (or provide a designee) to assist with the development of the job analysis.  The designee must be a SME at the same grade level or above the position being advertised;

(5)  Participating in the selection and weighting of occupational questions;

(6)  Complying with and understanding the provisions of the Merit Promotion and Placement Plan;

(7)  Ensuring subordinates receive appropriate consideration for advancement  opportunities arising during their temporary absences for leave, travel, detail, training, military service or serving in public international organizations or on Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignments when such assistance is properly requested in writing by the subordinate for known absences; and

(8)  Notifying subordinates by email or telephone of career advancement opportunities which occur during an unexpected absence, such as incapacitation, care of or death of a family member, etc.

3 FAM 2312.4  Applicants

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Employees are responsible for:

(1)  Becoming familiar with the provisions of this plan;

(2)  Providing complete and accurate information regarding their qualifications for the job opportunity announcement (JOA);

(3)  Following the application procedures outlined in the JOA and submitting all the required application materials by the closing date of the JOA; and

(4)  Advising their supervisor in writing (hard copy or e-mail), if they want to be considered for opportunities within the office that may occur during their temporary absence for scheduled leave, travel, detail or training.  In such instances, employees will ensure that they have taken the necessary steps to be able to apply for any such job opportunities.  This includes ensuring that they have a current saved resume and any necessary supporting documents (SF-50s, performance appraisals, transcripts, etc.) uploaded and saved in their USAJOBS account.  In addition, employees may establish a USAJOBS Search Agent to receive job opportunity email notifications.

3 FAM 2313  APPLICABILITY OF COMPETITIVE PROCEDURES

3 FAM 2313.1  Competitive Procedures

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Competitive procedures apply to all promotions under 5 CFR 335.102 and to those actions detailed in 5 CFR 335.103(c)(1).

3 FAM 2313.2  Exceptions to Competitive Promotion Procedures

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Exceptions to competitive procedures can be found in 5 CFR 335.103(c)(2) and (3).  Based on the discretionary authority provided at 5 CFR 335.103(c)(3), the Department excepts the actions listed under that section from competitive procedures.

3 FAM 2314  PRIORITY PLACEMENT CONSIDERATION

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

When a position becomes vacant, certain applicants must be given priority consideration or special selection priority when they are deemed to be well-qualified by the Department for the specific position.  This consideration must be given before any other efforts are made to fill the position.  They are:

(1)  Surplus and displaced employees (e.g., individuals whose positions have been abolished) as defined by 5 CFR 330(f) (Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP) eligible);

(2)  Displaced employees, as defined by 5 CFR 330(g), who were involuntarily separated (not for cause) from a Federal agency (e.g., reduction-in-force).  (Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) eligible); and

(3)  Individuals who have not received proper consideration under Merit Promotion rules due to an administrative error.  These individuals must receive one-time priority consideration to any comparable job within the Bureau or entity with equivalent status for which the loss consideration occurred (same grade, same promotion potential, and same tenure as the position for which the individual lost consideration.)  The individual eligible for priority consideration must be well-qualified for the position offered and the position may be in any geographic area that the individual deems acceptable.

3 FAM 2315  APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY

3 FAM 2315.1  Eligibility

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees)

a. The following are eligible to be considered through Merit Promotion procedures, subject to the Area of Consideration as defined in 3 FAM 2315.2:

(1)  Applicants on career or career-conditional appointments provided they have completed the 90 day time-after-competitive appointment requirement;

(2)  Applicants on temporary or other non-status appointments who have reinstatement or non-competitive appointment eligibility;

(3)  Applicants in the excepted service under an OPM approved interchange agreement;

(4)  Applicants eligible under the Veterans’ Employment Opportunity Act;

(5)  Applicants with reinstatement eligibility or non-competitive appointment eligibility (e.g., certain Peace Corps volunteers and, AmeriCorps VISTA, disabled veterans, persons with disabilities, Veterans’ Recruitment Appointments, eligible family members, military spouses, and employees serving on limited non-career appointments covered by 5 CFR 315(f); and

(6)  Applicants on Excepted Service appointments to the extent permitted by their appointment (e.g., tenured Foreign Service Officers, refer to 5 CFR 315).

b. No applicant or employee may receive a promotion unless the most recent rating of record for their current position under 5 CFR 430 is "fully successful" or an equivalent level or higher.

3 FAM 2315.2  Area of Consideration

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Management has the right to determine the method by which vacant or newly established competitive service positions will be filled.  Merit staffing procedures may be used alone or in concert with other methods of filling vacancies:

(1)  In accordance with 5 CFR 335.103(b)(2), the area of consideration for each job opportunity announcement will be determined at the time of the consultation between human resources and the selecting official;

(2)  The area of consideration must be broad enough to provide the selecting official with a sufficient number of high-quality applicants to consider for selection and to promote fair and open competition and maintain a diverse workforce;

(3)  The nature of work and grade level of the position and applicable requirements of negotiated agreements must be taken into account when determining the area of consideration; and

(4)  Announcements which fail to yield high-quality applicants, based on automated self-assessment rating only, may be evaluated prior to the closing date and amended to extend the opening period [1].

3 FAM 2315.2-1  Department of State

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

The area of consideration may be limited to Department of State employees agency-wide when the Department expects to generate enough highly qualified applicants from within the agency.

3 FAM 2315.2-2  Field Offices

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

The area of consideration for field office positions may be limited to the commuting area of the specific field office.

3 FAM 2315.2-3  Bureau Only

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

The area of consideration may be limited to an individual bureau when there are potentially sufficient qualified applicants, typically three to five, from which to select and special circumstances exist such as a reorganization, reduction-in-force, employment ceiling overage, or filling a position on the short-term basis (i.e., temporary promotion).

3 FAM 2315.2-4  Outside Applicants

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

The area of consideration for positions open to applicants outside the Department of State that apply through the merit promotion process may include all status applicants, reinstatement eligibles, eligible veterans and those with noncompetitive eligibility for appointments to the competitive service.

3 FAM 2315.2-5  ICTAP/CTAP and Eligible Veterans

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

The area of consideration may be limited to ICTAP/CTAP applicants and eligible veterans when the office has an interest in transferring an eligible and qualified individual from another Federal agency or wishes to reinstate an individual who has reinstatement rights.

3 FAM 2316  OPENING PERIODS

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. All announcements should remain open for a minimum period of five (5) business days unless the negotiated collective bargaining agreement states otherwise.  Monday through Friday constitute business days (with the exclusion of federal holidays).

b. When determining the opening period of an announcement, consideration must be given to the level of difficulty in recruiting qualified applicants, potential pool of applicants and the diversity of the workforce.

3 FAM 2317  Source of recruitment

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

All recruitment actions which fall under the provisions of this program must be advertised through the Department’s automated recruitment and hiring system.  The only exceptions are recruitments for internal human resources specialist positions at the GS-201-14 and/or GS-201-15 grade level(s).  For such positions, the servicing human resources office may use the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Human Resources Solutions to advertise the position.

3 FAM 2318  APPLICATION Procedures

3 FAM 2318.1  Application Materials

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

At the time of application, all applicants must submit the application materials requested in the specific job opportunity announcement that may include:

(1)  A resume or other form of application;

(2)  Responses to an automated assessment instrument (e.g., occupational questionnaire);

(3)  Transcripts (unofficial accepted with initial application);

(4)  Performance appraisal, Form DS-1812 or equivalent form from another agency; and

(5)  Any documentation verifying competitive status or eligibility to be hired under a special appointing authority (i.e., Standard Form SF-50; Form DD-214, etc).

3 FAM 2318.2  Application Deadline

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

All application materials must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on the closing date of the announcement.  All Department of State job opportunity announcements will provide information on submission of application materials and a point of contact’s name, telephone number and email address for information on alternate application procedures.  Application materials will not be accepted beyond the closing date of the announcement.

3 FAM 2319  CERTIFICATION, SELECTION, RECORD MAINTENANCE

3 FAM 2319.1  Evaluation of Applicants

3 FAM 2319.1-1  Minimum Qualification Requirements

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. To be eligible for promotion or placement, all applicants must meet by the closing date of the announcement, the qualification standards, as prescribed in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) General Schedule Qualification Standards for Positions under the General Schedule (GS), or Federal Wage System (FWS) for Trades and Labor Occupations, and selective placement factors for the position to be filled.

b. All applicants must meet regulatory time-in-grade and time-after-competitive appointment requirements by the closing date of the announcement.

3 FAM 2319.1-2  Applicant Assessment

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. All applicants will be assessed based on job related criteria which measures their knowledge, skills, abilities/competencies necessary for successful performance in the position.

b. Applicants eligible for promotion or competitive assignment must be rated qualified after HR validates the resume and self-assessment questionnaire in order to be referred to the selecting official for consideration.

c.  Applicants eligible under the selection priority provisions of CTAP and ICTAP will be considered well qualified with a score of 85 or higher.

3 FAM 2319.1-3  Certificates of Eligibles

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Except as provided by 3 FAM 2321.1-6, certificates are valid for 20 calendar days from the date of issuance and will automatically expire if no action is taken within the allotted time frame.

3 FAM 2319.1-4  Merit Promotion Certificate of Eligibles – Certification of Competitive Eligibles

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. The number of candidates to be referred to the selecting official will vary and may be determined by the factors below:

(1)  The largest gap between scores; and

(2)  The number of positions to be filled.  The largest gap between the scores must be determined first.  This determination must be based on the applicant’s self-assessment rating (i.e., automated hiring system self-assessment score).  In the event the largest gap cannot be determined and there is a high volume of applications (i.e., 30 or more), qualifications analysis should be performed on at least the first 15 applicants or more, if necessary, for multiple positions.  Those who are deemed qualified must be referred to the selecting official for consideration.

b. When the scores of the lowest scoring applicants for referral are tied, all qualified applicants with tied scores must be referred to the selecting official for consideration.

c.  The Department recommends the referral of a minimum of three to five candidates on a competitive certificate to ensure the selecting official has been afforded a sufficient number of candidates for consideration.

d. The number of referred candidates will vary from case to case; however, the referral of fewer than three candidates should be rare.  HRSPs are encouraged to conduct qualifications analysis on additional applicants when the initial review yields fewer than three candidates.

e. The best-qualified candidates will be listed on the Merit Promotion Certificate in alphabetical order.

f.  The factor used to certify the competitive candidates must be clearly defendable and documentation supporting the applied methodology must be maintained in the merit promotion case file (e.g., print out of the original staging area with the largest gap between the scores highlighted; completed qualifications sheets on all the applicants assessed for qualifications, etc.).

3 FAM 2319.1-5  Certification of Non‑Competitive Eligibles

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Applicants who are not subject to competitive rating and ranking procedures need only meet the minimum qualifications for the position (by achieving a score of 70 points or higher on the applicant assessment) for referral to the selecting official:

(1)  Non-competitive applicants are those who have acquired non-competitive eligibility under a specific appointing authority, and current/former employees in the competitive service applying for a position having promotion potential no higher than the position they currently hold or previously held on a permanent basis, and who meet minimum qualifications requirements and any selective placement factors; and

(2)  Applicants who have non-competitive eligibility are listed in alphabetical order on a separate certificate from the competitive applicants.

3 FAM 2319.1-6  Certificate Extensions

(CT:PER-1012;   08-26-2020)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. The deadline for a selecting official to return the certificate of eligibles (with or without selection) is 20 calendar days from the date of issuance.  All certificate(s) will expire at 11:59 pm on the 20th day.

b. Request(s) for extending a certificate of eligibles beyond 20 calendar days may be granted if:

(1)  The request is made prior to the expiration date of the certificate;

(2)  The reason for requesting an extension is documented; and

(3)  The need is based on unusual or extenuating circumstances.

c.  Certificates may be extended in five calendar day increments and must not exceed a total of ten calendar days.

d. The HRSP may grant an initial five calendar day extension providing the conditions for requesting an extension are met.  Extensions for an additional five calendar days must be submitted to the Office of Civil Service Global Talent Management (GTM/CSTM) for approval if the conditions for requesting an additional extension are met.

3 FAM 2319.1-7  Exceptions to Certificate Expiration

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

An expired certificate of eligibles may only be reissued within 60 days, with a maximum 20-day lifecycle for each certificate issued, from the date of issuance in situations that may involve the following:

(1)  Identical vacancies occur within the same office and the job opportunity announcement contained a statement permitting additional selections from the same announcement;

(2)  A selectee declines the position prior to entrance on duty;

(3)  Derogatory information is discovered during a background investigation that negatively impacts the selectee’s suitability for employment and ability to obtain a security clearance; or

(4)  The selection may result in an inappropriate hiring practice (i.e., nepotism).

3 FAM 2319.2  Interviews, Selection and Release

3 FAM 2319.2-1  Interviewing

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. Interviewing is strongly encouraged as an additional step in the selection process as it provides additional information about the candidates and helps to distinguish those persons likely to succeed on the job.  Interviews can be conducted in a variety of formats (e.g., via telephone, in person, structured or unstructured, individual or panel interview, etc.).

b. The selecting official has the option of interviewing all, any or none of the applicants referred (unless the position is covered under a negotiated bargaining unit agreement).  In instances where the position is covered by a negotiated bargaining unit, the applicable union agreement must take precedence.

c.  The selecting official must ensure the following:

(1)  All applicants are treated equally and in accordance with applicable rules and regulations;

(2)  Interview questions are job related and designed in a manner that determines the candidate’s ability to perform satisfactorily in the position;

(3)  All applicants are asked the same job related questions and the questions are scored systematically using predetermined criteria or benchmarks prior to the interview; and

(4)  If an interview panel is used, the panel must be comprised of SMEs who are direct hire employees of the Federal government and are at the same grade or higher than the position being filled.  Contractors (including Personal Services Contractors) are not permitted to serve on interview panels.

d. Structured panel interviews are convened for all Human Resource (HR) Specialist positions at the GS-14 and GS-15 grade levels.

e. Selecting officials should consult with their bureau human resource specialist to determine bargaining unit coverage and further information.

3 FAM 2319.2-2  Selection

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. Selecting officials are encouraged to consider the content of submitted performance appraisals or equivalent; and take into account any incentive awards if outlined in the applicant’s resume prior to the final selection. 

b. The selecting official has the right to select or not select any applicant referred on the competitive or non-competitive certificate of eligibles.  However, there are circumstances where a mandatory placement plan (i.e., RPL, ICTAP, CTAP) may impact selection decisions.

c.  If no selection is made from the announcement, a written justification must be provided by the selecting official as to why no selection was made.  A 30-day waiting period may be required before the position can be re-advertised.

d. No selection commitment will be made to any applicant by a selecting official.  Commitments will only be made by the HRSP after all necessary approvals and clearances have been obtained.

3 FAM 2319.2-3  Release for Placement

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. Upon receiving a written notification of a selection decision, the office which issued the certificate of eligibles will take appropriate action to arrange a release date with the losing office or agency.

b. For all Department of State employees selected for promotion under this program, the release date will be at the end of the first full pay period following the date the release is requested.  For actions other than promotions, a longer period may be allowed i.e., two full pay periods; however, the release date should be no longer than two full pay periods following an official request to the losing office for a release date, unless the gaining office agrees.

c.  All placements are subject to security clearance requirements.

3 FAM 2319.2-4  Training and Probationary Period for New Supervisors

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

All persons newly selected for first-level supervisory positions will receive supervisory and equal employment opportunity (EEO) training within one (1) year of entering on duty in their new position.  All persons selected who have not previously served as a supervisor or manager for a period of one year will be required to complete a probationary period.

3 FAM 2319.2-5  Notification of Selection

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

In accordance with the delegation of authority, the HRSP will notify the Selectee(s) and non-Selectee(s) of the final results of the selection process.

3 FAM 2319.2-6  Travel and Relocation Expenses

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Travel and relocation expenses will be paid only when it is in the best interest of the Department to have an individual relocated from one official duty station to another.  A determination to pay these expenses must be made prior to announcing the job and documented in accordance with 3 FAM 3190.

3 FAM 2319.3  Release of Information to Applicants

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. The methods listed below will be used to keep applicants and employee organizations informed about the Merit Promotion and Placement Program Plan and its operations:

·         Department Notices and the Department of State's website;

·         Department publications such as the Guide for New Civil Service Employees; or

·         State Magazine

b. The servicing HR office may release to applicants upon request information on their qualifications and assessment for the position for which applied and any other information not covered by the Privacy Act.  Assessment tools and self-assessment questionnaires are not to be released to applicants to preserve the confidentiality and integrity of the recruitment and hiring process.

3 FAM 2319.4  Promotion and Placement Records

(CT:PER-1012;   08-26-2020)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. Each servicing HR office must maintain a record of each promotion and placement action taken under this program.  Appropriate supporting documentation must be sufficient to allow reconstruction of the action taken and reflect how the applicants were assessed.  These records may be destroyed after two years following the closing date of an announcement or after the program has been formally evaluated by the OPM or GTM/CSTM (whichever comes first), provided the time limit for an agency grievance, complaint or appeal has also lapsed, or any proceedings related to the records have been closed.

b. The appropriate offices must maintain copies of the merit promotion and placement plans and published amendments thereto, covering all positions to which promotions and placements have been or are being made.

3 FAM 2319.5  Agency Review

(CT:PER-1012;   08-26-2020)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. Periodically, the Bureau of GTM will review the Merit Promotion and Placement program to assure that changes in law or regulation are incorporated and issue a notice to employees outlining the key provisions, changes, and amendments of the program.

b. The views of managers, supervisors, and representatives of labor organizations will be obtained when significant changes are made in this program.  An individual, however, may submit recommendations for changes.

3 FAM 2319.6  Complaints, Grievances, and Appeals

3 FAM 2319.6-1  Grievances

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

a. Applicants may make initial inquiries about their qualification determinations by contacting the servicing HR Specialist assigned to recruit for the position.

b. Employees have the right to file a grievance on the application of the provisions of this subchapter.  However, non-selection from among a group of properly rated and certified applicants is not an appropriate basis for a formal grievance.  Any corrective action will be taken in accordance with 5 CFR 335 to rectify a violation of law, OPM regulations and procedures, and/or Department of State policies and procedures.  The grievance procedure for non-bargaining unit Civil Service (CS) employees is set forth in 3 FAM 4700.  Grievances by CS employees represented by an exclusive representative must be filed using the negotiated grievance procedure established in the governing collective bargaining agreement.  Refer to 5 CFR 335.103(d) and 3 FAM 4700, Grievances for further information.

3 FAM 2319.6-2  Appeals

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

There is no right to appeal an action under this subchapter to the OPM.  OPM may, however, conduct investigations of substantial violations of OPM requirements (Refer to 5 CFR 335.103(d)).

3 FAM 2319.6-3  EEO Complaints

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Employees may initiate a complaint under the EEO complaints process by consulting a designated EEO Counselor pursuant to 29 CFR 1614 and 3 FAM 1500, Equal Employment Opportunity.

3 FAM 2319.7  Definitions

(CT:PER-717;   01-07-2014)
(State Only)
(Applies to Civil Service Employees Only)

Competitive Service:  All civilian positions (1) in the Executive branch not specifically excepted from civil service laws or statute and not in the Senior Executive Service; and (2) all positions in the legislative and judicial branches and in the government of the District of Columbia specifically made subject to the civil service laws by statute.

Competitive Status:  A person’s basic eligibility for assignment (e.g., by transfer, promotion, reassignment, demotion, or reinstatement) to a position in the competitive service without having to compete with members of the general public in an open competitive examination.  When a job opportunity announcement indicates status candidates are eligible to apply, career and career-conditional employees who have served at least 90 calendar days after competitive appointment may apply. 

Job Analysis:  Systematic, documented analysis of a position to be filled to identify the basic duties and responsibilities; the KSAs and level of competence required to perform those duties and responsibilities; and the factors important in evaluating candidates.

Job Opportunity Announcement (JOA):  A document informing potential applicants of a vacancy.  JOAs describe the requirements of the job and instruct applicants how to apply for the vacancy.  Whenever applications are accepted from sources outside of the Department, a JOA must be posted on the USAJOBS’ website to satisfy public notice requirements.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs):  The attributes required to perform a job as generally demonstrated through qualifying experience, education, and/or training.  Knowledge is a body of information applied directly to the performance of a function.  Skill is a present, observable competence to perform a task proficiently.  Ability is a present competence to perform an observable behavior or a behavior resulting in an observable product.

Merit Promotion Certificate of Eligibles:  Used to provide selecting officials with a list of eligible promotion candidates developed through competitive procedures.

Merit System Principles:  Nine basic standards governing the management of the Executive branch workforce.  The principles are part of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and can be found at 5 U.S.C. 2301(b).

Noncompetitive Action:  Reassignment, transfer, reinstatement, change to lower grade, or appointment based on prior service to the highest grade previously held on a permanent basis under a career or career-conditional appointment if the position has no higher promotion potential.

Noncompetitive Certificate of Eligibles:  Used to provide selecting officials with a list of candidates eligible for noncompetitive consideration for vacant positions.

Priority Consideration:  Special, one-time consideration extended to a candidate who was denied proper consideration in a prior competitive action.

Prohibited Personnel Practices:  Twelve prohibited personnel practices, including reprisal for whistleblowing, are defined by law at 5 U.S.C. 2302(b).  A personnel action, such as appointments, promotions, reassignments, and other personnel matters, may need to be involved for a prohibited personnel practice to occur.

Promotion:  Change of an employee to a higher grade or to a position with a higher rate of basic pay or higher representative rate.

Promotion Potential:  Possibility of further promotion without the need for further competition (e.g., a position filled at an entry or mid-level within an established career ladder).

Qualification Requirements:  Experience, training, and/or education specified in OPM’s Qualification Standards Handbook for a specific occupation and any selective placement factor(s) established for a particular position.

Qualified Candidates:  Applicants who meet all established minimum eligibility and qualification requirements, including the qualification standards outlined in the OPM General Schedule Qualification Standards for Positions under the General Schedule or Federal Wage System for Trades and Labor Occupations; any selective placement factors identified for the position; time-in-grade; time-after-competitive appointment; competitive status; and submission of a complete application package within the required timeframe in the announcement.

Rating and Ranking:  Determining best-qualified candidates based on the degree each candidate meets the ranking factors (KSAs/competencies) of the position.

Reduction in Force (RIF):  Separation of an employee required by the agency because of lack of work or funds, abolition of position or agency, or cuts in personnel authorizations.

Reemployment Priority:  A mandatory program which gives selection priority to former permanent competitive service employees who were separated by RIF or fully recovered from a compensable injury after more than one year of absence due to the injury.

Reinstatement:  The reemployment of a former Federal employee, who previously held a career or career conditional appointment with a Federal agency as a Federal employee on a permanent, competitive Federal appointment.

Selecting Official:  An individual delegated the authority to make the management decision regarding who is selected for placement in a position.

Selective Placement Factor:  Knowledge, skills, abilities, or special qualifications that are in addition to the minimum requirements in a qualification standard, but are determined to be essential to perform the duties and responsibilities of a particular position.  Applicants who do not meet a selective factor are ineligible for further consideration.

Self-Assessment Occupational Questionnaire (i.e., crediting plan, occupational questions):  A measurement tool for consistently and fairly evaluating the job-related competencies/possession of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of applicants.

Specialized Experience:  Experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position and is typically in or related to the work of the position to be filled.

Subject Matter Expert (SME):  An individual thoroughly knowledgeable about the duties and responsibilities of a specific position.  A SME is normally at or above the grade of the position being filled.

Time-in-Grade:  The 52-week requirement Federal employees in competitive service GS positions at grades 5 and above must serve before they are eligible for promotion (advancement) to the next grade level.

Transfer:  Change of an employee without any break in service from a position in one agency to a position in another agency.

Well-Qualified Candidate:  A merit promotion, CTAP, or ICTAP eligible whose job-related competencies/possession of KSAs clearly exceed the minimum qualification requirements for the announced position.  The Department defines well qualified as scoring at least 85 on the self-assessment occupational questionnaire.

UNCLASSIFIED (U)



[1] The determination of high-quality is based on the applicant’s self-assessment rating.