OPM readies new IT job series

The Office of Personnel Management is one step closer to changing how jobs performed by federal information technology workers are structured and defined, a move that will bring government more in line with the private sector.

Within 60 days, OPM plans to issue a new occupational job series that will encompass at least 50,000 employees who perform IT work, said Henry Romero, associate director for workforce compensation and performance at OPM. This number could grow as agencies recognize employees who are performing IT work but are not currently classified as IT workers.

The new single GS-2200 series will encompass various IT disciplines and replace existing series that are used to classify IT workers, such as the GS-334 computer specialist and GS-391 telecommunications series. According to observers, having one IT series should make pay more equitable among people who are doing similar jobs and give agencies a better picture of the IT workforce, such as how many information security employees there are.

Once issued, the GS-2200 standard will be mandatory for agencies to use, Romero said, adding that agencies likely will apply it right away for new hires and gradually fold in existing IT workers. OPM will check in with agencies to ensure that they are using the new series properly, he added.

The 33,000 IT workers who received OPM's special IT salary rates, which went into effect in January, will continue to receive them when the workers are moved into the GS-2200 family, said Romero, who spoke at a conference hosted by the Federal Section of the International Personnel Management Association. Employees who did not receive the IT special rates in January may or may not receive the higher salaries once they are moved into the GS-2200 series, depending on how their agencies re-classify them.

The series will incorporate new authorized titles, specialty designators and descriptions of the kinds of work covered by the titles and specialties. OPM wrote them to more closely resemble those used in the private sector in an effort to make it easier to lure IT workers to government and retain them.

Agencies tested the titles and job descriptions in pilots last year. Some specialty designators, such as software engineering and information, security, have been tweaked as a result of agency feedback, Romero said.

One Social Security Administration employee said he believes the new series will help him and others who are performing IT work—but who are not classified as GS-334 computer specialists—get the credit they deserve. The SSA employee, who asked not to be named, said he is a full-time systems and networking professional who manages 32 local-area networks, supports about 1,000 Microsoft Corp. Windows NT users and builds intranet applications.

"I would like to be in the [GS-2200] series or the 334 series prior to the conversion," he said. "Either way, it means more money and a more realistic salary for IT professionals."

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