The Position Classification System

The Position Classification System is based on two fundamental principles:

1. There should be equal pay for substantially equal work.

2. Variations in pay should be in proportion to substantial differences in the difficulty, responsibility and qualifications required.

Under the General Schedule (GS) classification system, individual positions are classified to an occupational group, a series representing a specific occupation within that group, and an appropriate grade which has a salary range provided by law. The same applies to the Federal Wage System (FWS)classification except that salary ranges are based on prevailing rates - the rates paid by private employers for similar work in the wage area. The rates are established through geographic wage surveys.

The Handbook of Occupational Groups and Families (Part I for GS and Part 2 for FWS) defines each occupational group and series established by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Position classification standards, issued by OPM, provide guidance and criteria for determining the proper classification for positions in specific occupations.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issues all Position Classification Standards. OPM also places new and draft standards (as well as all current ones) on their WEBSITE ( Paper copies of standards are no longer issued.

OPM Classifiers Handbook - a handbook of general classification guidance designed to provide background information, concepts, and technical guidance that will aid those who classify positions in selecting, interpreting, and applying OPM classification standards.

OPM Introduction to the Position Classification Standards -
a detailed description of the Federal Classification system for the General Schedule occupations.

OPM Digest of Significant Classification Decisions and Opinions -
summariesj of decisions and opinions which have government wide applicability.

OPM announces new standards on the [What's New] portions of their Website.

Other documents that may prove helpful include:

Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System [DCIPS] .

Department of Defense Field Advisory Service (FAS)Digest of Signifcant Classifcation Appeal Decisions

Delegated Classification Authority (DCA) - enhances the personnel authority of supervisors over their subordinate positions.

Content last reviewed: 5/31/2006-LAR