Click here to skip navigation Home  |  Subject Index  |  Important Links  |  Contact Us  |  Help

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

Advanced Search

Operating Manual for Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions

Skip Navigation

Policies and Instructions

General Policies:
C. Explanation of Terms

Major concepts and terms, defined for the purposes of this section, follow below in alphabetical order.

Accredited Education
is education above the high school level completed in a U.S. college, university, or other educational institution that has been accredited by one of the accrediting agencies or associations recognized by the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education.
Competitive Appointment
is an appointment to a position in the competitive service following open competitive examination or under direct-hire authority. The competitive examination, which is open to all applicants, may consist of a written test, an evaluation of an applicant's education and experience, and/or an evaluation of other attributes necessary for successful performance in the position to be filled.
Competitive Service
includes all positions in which appointments are subject to the provisions of Chapter 33 of title 5, United States Code. Positions in the executive branch of the Federal Government are in the competitive service unless they are specifically excluded from it. Positions in the legislative and judicial branches are outside of the competitive service unless they are specifically included in it.
Concurrent Experience
is experience gained in more than one position, during the same period of time, with either the same employer or with a different employer.
Education Above the High School Level (or Post High-School Education)
is successfully completed progressive study at an accredited business or technical school, junior college, college, or university where the institution normally requires a high school diploma or equivalent for admission.
Fill-in Employment
is employment held by persons during the time period after leaving their regular occupation in anticipation of, but before entering, military service.
Foreign Education
is education acquired outside of any State of the U.S., the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, or any territory or possession of the U.S.
Graduate Education
is successfully completed education in a graduate program for which a bachelor's or higher degree is normally required for admission. To be creditable, such education must show evidence of progress through a set curriculum, i.e., it is part of a program leading to a master's or higher degree, and not education consisting of undergraduate and/or continuing education courses that do not lead to an advanced degree.
Group Coverage (or Generic) Qualification Standards
are standards prescribed for groups of occupational series that have a common pattern of education, experience, and/or other requirements.
High School Graduation or Equivalent
means the applicant has received a high school diploma, General Education Development (GED) equivalency certificate, or proficiency certificate from a State or territorial-level Board or Department of Education.
Individual Occupational Requirements
are requirements e.g., experience or education, for particular occupational series or positions within a series and are used in conjunction with a group coverage (generic) standard.
Inservice Placement
includes a noncompetitive action in which a position is filled with a current or former competitive service employee through promotion, reassignment, change to lower grade, transfer, reinstatement, reemployment, or restoration. Inservice placement also includes noncompetitive conversion of appointees whose Federal excepted positions are brought into the competitive service under title 5 CFR 316.702, and Department of Defense/Nonappropriated Fund (DOD/NAF) and Coast Guard NAF employees whose positions are brought into the competitive service.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA's)
are the attributes required to perform a job and are generally demonstrated through qualifying experience, education, or training. Knowledge is a body of information applied directly to the performance of a function. Skill is an observable competence to perform a learned psychomotor act. Ability is competence to perform an observable behavior or a behavior that results in an observable product.
of an OPM qualification standard for inservice placement actions means agency or OPM substitution of qualification requirements different from those in the published standard. While applicants who qualify under a modified standard do not meet all of the specific requirements described in the published standard, their overall background show evidence of their potential success in the position to be filled. A modified standard may apply to any number of positions in an organization.
Noncompetitive Action
means an appointment to or placement in a position in the competitive service that is not made by selection from an open competitive examination, and that is usually based on current or prior Federal service. A noncompetitive action includes (1) all of the types of actions described under inservice placement, above; (2) appointments of non-Federal employees whose public or private enterprise positions are brought into the competitive service under title 5 CFR 316.701; and (3) appointments and conversions to career and career-conditional employment made under special authorities covered in 5 CFR 315, Subpart F.
Normal Line of Promotion (or Progression)
is the pattern of upward movement from one grade to another for a position or group of positions in an organization.
means the officially assigned duties and responsibilities that make up the work performed by an employee.
Quality Ranking Factors
are knowledge, skills, and abilities that could be expected to enhance significantly performance in a position, but are not essential for satisfactory performance. Applicants who possess such KSA's may be ranked above those who do not, but no one may be rated ineligible solely for failure to possess such KSA's.
Related Education
is education above the high school level that has equipped the applicant with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position being filled. Education may relate to the duties of a specific position or to the occupation, but must be appropriate for the position being filled.
Research Positions
are positions in professional series that primarily involve scientific inquiry or investigation, or research-type exploratory development of a creative or scientific nature, where the knowledge required to perform the work successfully is acquired typically and primarily through graduate study. The positions are such that the academic preparation will equip the applicant to perform fully the work after a short orientation period.
Selective Factors
are knowledge, skills, abilities, or special qualifications that are in addition to the minimum requirements in a qualification standard, but are determined to be essential to perform the duties and responsibilities of a particular position. Applicants who do not meet a selective factor are ineligible for further consideration.
Series or Occupational Series
means positions similar as to specialized work and qualification requirements. Series are designated by a title and number such as the Accounting Series, GS-510; the Secretary Series, GS-318; and the Microbiology Series, GS-403.
Specialized Experience
is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position and is typically in or related to the work of the position to be filled.
of an OPM qualification standard involves setting aside requirements in a published standard to place an employee in a particular position, usually to avoid some kind of hardship to the employee, such as in cases of reduction in force or administrative error on the part of the agency. Extra training and/or skills development may be needed to help the employee adjust to the new position. Waivers are granted by OPM or an agency, as appropriate, on a case-by-case basis, and do not directly affect other positions in the organization.
Work-Study Programs
are government or non-government programs that provide supervised work experience related to a student's course of study and are a part of, or a supplement to, education. Federal student-trainee programs are examples of such programs.