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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

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Survey Improvements

BLS has implemented four of the five improvements designed for its National Compensation Survey (NCS) program:

(1) Problems associated with random selection of survey jobs.

Progress: BLS has designed an econometric model that is used to estimate salaries for jobs not randomly selected in a locality survey. NCS program data used for this report include modeled data when survey data were not available.

(2) Matching Federal and non-Federal jobs.

Progress: OPM formed an interagency working group that developed a crosswalk between Federal job classifications and the Standard Occupational Classification system, which BLS uses in its surveys. OPM staff made a few improvements designed to better match certain jobs, and BLS used the crosswalk and March 2005 GS employment data to weight the NCS job data used in this report.

(3)Excluding randomly selected jobs that would be classified above GS-15 in the Federal Government.

Progress: BLS developed methods for identifying and excluding non-Federal jobs that would be classified above GS-15 in the Federal Government. These jobs were excluded from data delivered to the Pay Agent for use in the locality pay program.

(4) Assigning GS grades to randomly selected survey jobs with supervisory duties.

Progress: BLS identified survey establishments where supervisory jobs were surveyed, discussed new collection procedures with its staff, and tested a new method of grading supervisory jobs based on grading the highest level of work supervised. BLS has completed field testing of the new procedures and used the new approach in its surveys this year.

The final NCS improvement continues to be phased into the surveys, but will not be completely implemented for 3 more years:

(5) Assigning GS grades to randomly selected survey jobs.

Progress: OPM designed and tested a four-factor evaluation system for use in the surveys, and BLS successfully used the new approach in field tests. OPM also developed 20 job family grade leveling guides that cover the range of work under the General Schedule and provide occupation-specific information for use in the surveys. BLS developed several additional guides for its own uses. BLS has been phasing in the new approach over the last 2 years and about 40 percent of the data were graded under the new approach this year. This improvement will take 5 years to fully implement in private sector establishments because BLS conducts detailed job leveling interviews only when it first adds an establishment to its surveys and replaces only 1/5 of its private sector establishment sample each year. An additional year is needed to introduce the new leveling process in State and local governments, bringing the total to 6 years for full implementation.

Establishments with Fewer than 50 Employees

BLS has expanded its surveys to cover establishments with fewer than 50 employees. Data currently delivered to the Pay Agent exclude these small establishments, but the Pay Agent has asked BLS to report data in 2007 both with and without small establishments.

BLS informs us that about 27 percent of non-Federal employees in white-collar jobs matched to GS jobs work in these small establishments. However, some members of the Federal Salary Council have expressed concerns about whether jobs in small establishments, especially mixed jobs where the incumbent has multiple roles, can be accurately matched to Federal jobs, and questioned whether the Government should limit coverage to larger establishments. The Federal Salary Council plans to continue its review of this issue, and we will consider the Council's recommendations before making any changes in the establishment size cut-off for the locality pay program.