OPM revamps IT job family

OPM memo about the new job family

The Office of Personnel Management last week released a new job family standard and modern job descriptions for federal information technology workers, designed to help agencies recruit and hire skilled workers.

OPM issued for official use the new GS-2200 job family for administrative work in the IT group, a move that reflects the growing use of automation and IT, according to agency officials.

The family consists of one job series, called the IT management series (GS-2210), which replaces the existing computer specialist series (GS-334).

Employees in the GS-2210 series will be called IT specialists, and new "parenthetical specialty titles" — such as network services and security — and associated qualifications will help agencies further define the jobs.

The move should help agencies better define the responsibilities and competencies of certain jobs and, as a result, will help agencies "be able to better recruit and get the right person to fill the job," said an OPM spokesman. It will be easier for agencies to match responsibilities to the job candidate "and what that person will bring to the workplace," he said.

It will also make it easier for agencies to write job announcements that are "more targeted to what people actually do," said Fred Thompson, assistant director for consulting and marketing within the Treasury Department office of the chief information officer's customer service consulting group.

"I think it makes it clear what competencies and skills are essential for certain jobs," he said. "It helps employees know what they need to [advance] in their own career."

Agencies will reclassify any computer specialist (GS-334) under the new GS-2210 management series for IT. There are around 53,000 computer specialists in government, the majority in grades 5 through 12. Agencies also could reclassify other employees who may be performing IT work but are not part of the computer specialist series.

For instance, telecommunications workers (GS-391) may be reclassified when "knowledge of information technology, as defined in this standard, is the paramount requirement necessary to perform the primary duties of the position," OPM officials said.

As for employees in other series, they can be reclassified when "knowledge of IT principles, concepts and methods is paramount."

Eventually, it should be easier for OPM and agencies to apply larger salaries to certain categories of jobs that may be hard to fill, said Karen Hogan, acting deputy CIO at the Commerce Department. "I'm hoping by differentiating the skills we're looking for, that at some point we'll be able to be more competitive in certain categories."

More detailed job descriptions will also help the department know where and how it is spending its IT dollars in the workforce. "That's been tricky because a huge amount of our annual budget goes to pay computer specialists," Hogan said. "It would be good to have a way to classify work" to know how much different services cost, for instance.

Recruiting should get easier as well. The new family and job descriptions will help change the perception that many potential IT job candidates have about government work, said David Tittle, president of Paul-Tittle Associates Inc., an executive search firm in McLean, Va., with government clients. Titles such as "network" and "security" are clear profiles that suggest a career path, which is important, he said, because "they're looking at their future marketability of skills." Support positions, such as those in the computer clerk and assistant series (GS-335), are not covered by the new GS-2210 series. However, OPM officials are looking at other series both within and outside the IT community to see whether they belong in the GS-2200 family, the OPM spokesman said. Employees who received the special IT pay raise that began in January will continue to receive those salaries when they are moved into the new series.More like the private sector

The decade-old job family that agencies had been using to classify information technology workers is being replaced with a new standard that better reflects the positions and titles held by workers in the private sector. The standard establishes 10 specialty titles for IT work, along with descriptions of the jobs and the knowledge and skills necessary to do them.

The specialties are:

* Applications software

* Customer support

* Data management

* Internet

* Network services

* Operating systems

* Policy and planning

* Security

* Systems administration

* Systems analysis

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