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Operating Manual for Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions

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Policies and Instructions

General Policies:
E. Application of Qualification Standards

  1. Selecting the Appropriate Qualification Standard
  2. Implementing New or Revised Standards
  3. Experience Requirements
  4. Educational and Training Provisions or Requirements
  5. Crediting Combinations of Education and Experience
  6. Using Selective Factors
  7. Using Quality Ranking Factors
  8. Special Inservice Placement Provisions
  9. Other Requirements or Provisions
  10. Supervisory Positions

9. Other Requirements or Provisions

  1. Citizenship -- Agencies must adhere to the following restrictions regarding United States citizen-ship when evaluating persons seeking Federal civil service employment:

    -- Executive Order 11935, which requires citizenship for the competitive civil service, i.e., only a United States citizen or national may be appointed to the competitive service. This requirement applies to all types of appointments. In noncompetitive conversions from the excepted service, the citizenship requirement must be met as of the effective date of the action. (A national is a person who owes allegiance to or is under the protection of a nation, but is not a citizen or subject. How-ever, a native is typically born in the particular place.) Natives of the following areas are United States citizens: Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian; Puerto Rico; and the Virgin Islands of the United States, including St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. At present, only natives of American Samoa and Swains Island are nationals of the United States;

    -- The annual Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government Appropriation Act ban on paying aliens from many countries; and

    -- The immigration law ban (title 8 U.S.C. 1324a) on employing aliens, unless they are lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise authorized to be employed.

    In specific cases, OPM may authorize the appointment of aliens to competitive service jobs to promote the efficiency of the service, as an exception to the Order, and to the extent permitted by law.

    Each agency is responsible for applying any additional citizenship restrictions or exceptions that are authorized by its own enabling and appropriation statutes.

  2. Medical/Physical -- The basis on which agencies may establish specific medical standards or physical requirements is discussed in 5 CFR 339. In general, there must be a direct relationship between the medical standard or physical requirement and the actual duties of the position being filled. Failure to meet an established medical standard or physical requirement means that the individual is not qualified for the position unless there is sufficient evidence that he or she can perform the duties of the position safely and efficiently despite a condition that would normally be disqualifying. Agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities in accordance with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations.

    Positions with sedentary, light, or moderately active duties are covered by the following medical standard:

    Applicants must be physically and mentally able to perform efficiently the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation, without hazard to themselves or others. Depending on the essential duties of a specific position, usable vision, color vision, hearing, or speech may be required. However, in most cases, a specific physical condition or impairment will not automatically disqualify an applicant for appointment. The loss or impairment of a specific function may be compensated for by the satisfactory use of a prosthesis or mechanical aid. Reasonable accommodation, in accordance with title 29 CFR 1613.704, must also be considered in determining an applicant's ability to perform the duties. Also, all positions involving Federal motor vehicle operation carry the additional medical requirements specified in (f) below.

    Positions with specific medical requirements and that involve arduous/hazardous duties or require a high standard of human reliability are identified in the Medical Requirements section. For such positions, the medical requirements are based on the arduous or hazardous nature of the duties typically performed in most of the positions covered. However, since individual positions may not include all such duties, a physical condition or impairment may be disqualifying for employment only if there is a direct relationship between the condition and the nature of the duties of the specific position to be filled. In some instances, a physical impairment will not disqualify an applicant for appointment if the condition is compensated for by a satisfactory prosthesis, mechanical aid, or by reason-able accommodation. Also, all positions involving Federal motor vehicle operation carry the additional medical requirements specified in (f) below.

  3. Age -- (1) Minimum entry age requirements. Under 5 U.S.C. 3301, OPM is authorized to establish standards with respect to a minimum entry age that applicants must meet to be admitted to or rated in examinations. A minimum age requirement ensures that applicants have the maturity necessary for successful job performance and that Federal Government hiring practices are not in conflict with the general objective of encouraging students to complete their basic education. Minimum entry age requirements must be waived for persons entitled to veterans preference, unless OPM determines that such an age restriction is essential for performance of the duties of the position.

    Generally, unless a different minimum entry age is contained in the standard or examination announcement for a particular position, applicants for any position in the competitive service must be (1) at least 18 years old, or (2) at least 16 years old and:

    • Have graduated from high school or been awarded a certificate equivalent to graduating from high school; or

    • Have completed a formal vocational training program; or

    • Have received a statement from school authorities agreeing with their preference for employment rather than continuing their education; or

    • Be currently enrolled in a secondary school and either work only during school vacation periods or work part-time during the school year under a formal student employment program.

    Applications may be considered from individuals who meet one of the above conditions and will reach the age of 16 prior to or on the date they report to work.

    Title 5 U.S.C. 3307 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to establish the minimum age requirement for initial appointment to U.S. park police positions.

    In addition to the above, agencies must observe the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as Federal, State, and local laws that relate to the employment of minors in hazardous positions or in positions requiring the use of firearms.

    (2) Maximum entry age restrictions. Title 5 U.S.C. 3307(a) prohibits the establishment of a maximum entry age for Federal positions, except as provided below. The prohibition against establishing maximum entry age limits applies to noncompetitive actions as well as to competitive appointments, to the excepted as well as to competitive services, and to all agencies, including OPM. Consequently, agencies cannot apply a maximum entry age limit under merit promotion procedures or in selection through any type of noncompetitive action, except as provided in the applicable Sections of the United States Code. There are no maximum entry age restrictions for most positions in the competitive service, except as follows:

    • Title 5 U.S.C. 3307, authorizes the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Defense to establish a maximum entry age for original appointment to air traffic controller positions in their respective Departments. The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to establish a maximum entry age for original appointment to U.S. park police positions. The head of any agency is authorized to establish a maximum entry age for original appointment to positions of law enforcement officers or firefighters; and

    • Title 29 U.S.C. 633a permits agencies to establish a maximum age requirement only in instances where they have proven to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that age is a bona fide occupational qualification necessary for the performance of the duties of a particular position.

    Maximum age restrictions established under 29 U.S.C. 633a or under the special authorities in 5 U.S.C. 3307 are not waived for persons entitled to veterans preference.

  4. Written and performance tests -- Occupational series/positions with written and/or performance test requirements are identified in the section entitled test requirements. Written and performance tests are to be used as follows:

    • Initial appointments -- Tests are required for some occupational series, either for all applicants or for those applicants who do not meet specific requirements indicated in the standard. If a test is required, applicants who are subject to that test must pass or have previously passed it to be eligible for initial appointment. This includes competitive appointments, and appointments under most noncompetitive appointing authorities.

    • Inservice placement -- (1) Tests required by OPM. There are a few occupational series for which a test is required by OPM for inservice placement. For such series, agencies must use and applicants must pass the appropriate OPM test. Occupational series with such requirements are also identified in the Test Requirements section.

      (2) Tests required by agencies. For positions for which OPM does not require a test, agencies may develop and use tests without OPM approval, as long as the test is part of a comprehensive set of assessment procedures used in ranking employees. The use and appropriateness of such tests are the responsibility of the agency. Agencies cannot, however, use existing OPM tests for such positions, unless specific approval has been received from OPM.

      (3) How inservice applicants can be examined. In occupations other than those where OPM requires a test for inservice placement, if an agency prefers to use alternatives to testing (e.g., evaluation of training and experience, interview, performance appraisal) to measure qualifications, it can do so, or it may use a test as one of several tools in evaluating applicants. Tests can be used to determine basic eligibility (i.e., on a pass-fail basis) or as the sole basis for ranking inservice placement applicants, only when specific approval has been received from OPM.

      (4) Performance tests. As a general guide, performance tests (e.g., typing proficiency tests) can be used to evaluate inservice placement applicants when, within the past 3 years, they have not performed successfully in a position that required proficiency in the skills needed for the position to be filled.

  5. Licensure, certification, and other requirements or provisions -- Applicants for positions in some occupational series must meet certification, licensure, or registration requirements in addition to meeting experience and/or educational requirements, if so required by law. In other series, applicants can qualify fully on the basis of licensure, certification, registration, or special training as an alternative to experience and/or educational requirements. Such requirements or provisions are noted in the qualification standards or individual occupational requirements for those series.

    Agencies can establish requirements for specific credentials (e.g., registration, licenses, or certificates) when such credentials are necessary for satisfactory job performance. However, it is important that agencies not overemphasize the possession of credentials as a means of determining whether applicants meet minimum qualification requirements in a series where the standard permits qualification on the basis of experience or education. Staffing personnel must examine the background of all applicants and give full credit to any acceptable experience, as well as to education or training.

  6. Motor vehicle incidental operator requirements -- Title 40 U.S.C. 471 requires OPM to issue regulations governing executive agencies in authorizing their civilian personnel to operate Government-owned or -leased motor vehicles within the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the possessions of the United States. OPM's regulations are found at title 5 CFR 930.

    Incidental operators are employees, other than those occupying a position officially classified as a motor vehicle operator, who are required to operate a Government-owned or -leased motor vehicle to properly carry out their assigned duties. To qualify as an incidental operator, an employee must possess a valid State license, have a safe driving record, pass a road test, and demonstrate that he or she is medically qualified to operate the appropriate motor vehicle safely.

    OPM waives the road test for incidental operators:

    (1) who operate vehicles of one-ton capacity or less and who possess a current driver's license from one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico, where domiciled or principally employed, except for incidental operators of buses or vehicles used for transportation of dangerous material, law enforcement, or emergency services;

    (2) who possess a current driver's license, for the specific class of vehicle operated, from one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico, where domiciled or principally employed; or

    (3) in accordance with a specific authorization by OPM to the agency concerned.

    An agency head may waive the road test when it is not practical to apply it, and then only for an employee whose competence as a driver has been established by his/her past driving record.

    In general, no medical condition may be considered disqualifying unless there is evidence that it is likely to adversely affect job performance or safety to an unacceptable degree. At least once every 4 years, each agency will ensure that employees who operate Government-owned or -leased vehicles are medically able to do so without undue risk to themselves or others. Where there is a question about an employee's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, the employee may be referred for a medical examination in accordance with provisions of title 5 CFR 339.