Representing Federal Employees in Desk Audits for 25 Years
Our federal employment attorneys represent federal employees in desk audit appeals. If you are a federal employee and believe that you have been asked to perform duties outside the scope of your grade, job series and title, a desk audit should be considered. A desk audit is also referred to as a classification appeal. During a desk audit, a federal employee’s duties and position are evaluated to determine whether the employee’s position should be upgraded in terms of grade, pay level, title or classification series.
Consider the Accuracy of Your Position Description
Before considering a desk audit, a federal employee should make sure that their position description accurately identifies the major duties assigned and performed. If the position description is significantly inaccurate, the employee should try to resolve the problem first by discussing it with a supervisor and perhaps a representative of the human resources office. If the agency is unwilling to correct the position description, the federal employee can still pursue a desk audit and the inaccuracies will be reviewed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) later in the appeal process.
Desk Audits for General Schedule (GS) Employees
For GS federal employees, the first step in pursuing a desk audit is to speak with their supervisor to raise the issue of whether their position is properly classified. It is important to stress the major areas of daily work and how these duties fit into the overall agency’s structure. The federal employee should review their position classification standards before this discussion. If a federal employee’s supervisor believes that the individual’s position should be possibly reclassified, they can contact the federal agency’s human resources office to request a desk audit. The federal employee can also try contacting human resources directly if the supervisor is not receptive to the request.
The agency must, in theory, make a decision on the desk audit request within 60 days. If an appeal to the agency does not result in a favorable decision, the employee can submit an appeal to the OPM Classification Appeals office. A GS employee can bypass the agency and go to OPM directly from the beginning, but It’s a good idea to appeal to the agency first. That way, if the employee doesn’t get the desired result, the employee can still appeal to the OPM. If the employee goes directly to the OPM and is unsuccessful, there is no option to then go back to the agency, the employee will have exhausted the appeals process. A GS employee is not permitted to pursue appeals with both the agency and OPM at the same time.
Desk Audits for Federal Wage System (FWS) Employees
The process for FWS employees is generally the same as that for GS employees, but an FWS employee must first appeal to the agency. Unlike a GS employee, an FWS employee cannot appeal directly to OPM from the outset. If an FWS employee is dissatisfied with the agency’s decision, the employee may appeal to OPM. The appeal with OPM must usually be filed within 15 calendar days of the date the employee receives the agency’s decision. Each appeal is different, but it is very important that an FWS employee keep track of their deadlines and file their appeal to OPM on time.
The OPM Desk Audit Appeal Process
An OPM desk audit appeal must be in writing, sufficiently detailed, include a copy of the position description, and be filed with the OPM office serving the area in which the federal employee works. The specific requirements for an appeal with OPM usually include the following:
- The employee’s name, mailing address, email address, and commercial office telephone number.
- The present classification of the employee’s position and the requested classification.
- The name of the department or agency and the office in which the employee works.
- The name, mailing and email address of the servicing Human Resources office having classification authority over the appealed position.
- The city where the employee is employed and the installation’s mailing address.
- A copy of the official position description and either a statement affirming that it is accurate or a detailed explanation of the inaccuracies and an explanation of the efforts made to correct the position description.
- Any additional information about the position that will aid in understanding it.
- Arguments supporting the requested classification by referencing the appropriate classification standards.
Once the appeal is filed, OPM will obtain information from the employee’s appeal and the agency. OPM may also reach out to the employee via correspondence, telephone call, or an on-site visit. OPM does not conduct hearings to decide desk audit appeals. In evaluating the merits of an employee’s desk audit appeal, OPM will base the decision on the work assigned to the position, the qualifications required to perform that work, and the proper application of the classification standards. OPM does not compare the employee’s position to that of others and does not consider any qualifications that the employee may have that do not relate to the position, the employee’s quality of performance, or the volume of work. Once OPM makes a decision, both the employee and the agency will be informed in writing. OPM’s decision regarding a desk audit is generally final and binding on the agency and all administrative, certifying, payroll, disbursing, and accounting officials in the Government. Keep in mind that if OPM reclassifies a position, the decision might not necessarily be favorable to the employee. OPM may raise or lower the grade of a position as the facts warrant, even if that should lead to a result unexpected or unwanted by the employee. It is important to seek legal advice before proceeding with a desk audit.
Further Review of Desk Audit Decision
There is no automatic right to a review of OPM’s appeal decision. However, OPM, at its discretion, can reconsider their decision. Reconsideration may be granted when either the employee or the agency submits written evidence or arguments that establish a reasonable doubt as to the technical accuracy of the decision, or presents new, relevant, and substantive information that was not considered in the original decision. To establish a reasonable doubt, an employee must refer specifically to the decision and to the applicable classification standard to demonstrate possible error in the technical evaluation of the position. The deadline for submitting a request for reconsideration is typically 45 calendar days after the date of the decision.