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

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Future Surveys

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 2006 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 used the new approach in its surveys beginning with the 2006 delivery.

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 several years and about 60 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 and delivered data both with and without these small establishments this year. This is the first year the Federal Salary Council and the Pay Agent have considered using data from small establishments in the locality pay program.

Including data from small establishments increases the number of non-Federal employees represented by the data since about 29 percent of non-Federal workers are employed in small establishments. It also slightly reduces our reliance on modeled data, with about 1.7 percent more Federal employees represented by survey data rather than modeled results. Overall, the pay gaps were slightly higher including the data from small establishments. However, the Federal Salary Council concluded we should review the results of including data from small establishments again next year before making any decisions about whether to use the data in the locality pay program. We agree with the Council's recommendation.