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RPES… An Overview for New Researchers RPES… … or Research Position Evaluation System , is the mechanism by which your grade will be determined as an ARS research scientist … affords a unique opportunity for noncompetitive advancement in your career with ARS Research Position Classification

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  • …or Research Position Evaluation System, is the mechanism by which your grade will be determined as an ARS research scientist
  • …affords a unique opportunity for noncompetitive advancement in your career with ARS
research position classification
Research Position Classification
  • Grading criteria are established in an official Federal standard – the OPM Research Grade Evaluation Guide (RGEG)
  • Underlying concept is “impact of the person in the job”
    • Assesses your career-long documented contributions, and resultant stature and recognition, with a definite eye on recency
periodic classification review
Periodic Classification Review
  • Mandatory cyclic review based on current grade
    • GS-12 and below, every 3 years
    • GS-13, every 4 years
    • GS-14 and -15, every 5 years
  • Exceptions which Area Director can approve
    • Early Review
    • Delayed Review
    • Reevaluation
    • Poor Performers
key concepts i
Key Concepts (I)
  • Impact is the core value of RPES
    • Quality…not quantity
    • Answer the question, “So what?”
  • Review by panel of peer scientists…not management
  • Determination… panels decide, not recommend
    • A delegation unique in the Federal Government
key concepts ii
Key Concepts (II)
  • Documented… a complete and accurate case writeup with solidexhibits is crucial
    • Detailed guidance is provided in Manual 431.3-ARS (Part I)
  • Recency… scientists are not tenured in grade
    • Failure to maintain levels of impact, stature, and recognition causes grade maintenance difficulties
factor 1 2 3 4
Factor 1… 2… 3… 4!

Factor 4 is the key to the RGEG. It implements “person-in-the-job” and asks several probing questions:

  • What has the scientist done, contributed, accomplished… especially recently (since last review)?
  • How and where is the work documented?
factor 1 2 3 4 cont d
Factor 1… 2… 3… 4! (cont’d)
  • Who says the work is important? Howare they using results?
  • Whyis the work important (i.e., “so what”?)
  • Who is consulting with/invitingthe scientist?
  • What kind of recognition (awards, grants, etc.) is the scientist garnering because of the work… and from whom?
quality vs quantity i
Quality vs Quantity (I)
  • Impact of accomplishments and resultant stature/recognition are the core values of RPES
  • Numbers are important, but only in terms of number of quality accomplishments… not mere number of publications
  • Impact is measured in terms of the number of quality contributions over an entire career…with a definite eye toward recency
quality vs quantity ii
Quality vs Quantity (II)
  • To achieve maximum RPES credit, accomplish-ments must demonstrate impact in terms of…
    • Scientific excellence, and/or
    • Pertinence (solve problem or save $$$$)
  • Factor 4 therefore drives RGEG and RPES
    • Explain accomplishments, and claim/document their impact in Element A
    • Illustrate resultant stature and recognition in Elements B and C

is also an important RGEG component, because it affects impact, stature, and recognition (ISR).

  • It takes time to build ISR
  • It takes time to maintain ISR
  • ISR will erode over time if not tended to
all activity is not created equal i
All Activity is not Created Equal (I)

There are several degrees of activity:

  • Activity which advances a career
    • Because of its impact
  • Activity which maintains a career
    • Justifies current grade level
  • Activity which limits or diminishes a career
    • Mundane, insignificant or undirected
    • Lower relative level of contribution/impact than earlier work
all activity is not created equal ii
All Activity is not Created Equal (II)
  • Inactivity is the surest way to lose
    • Researchers are not “tenured in grade”
    • Must “keep running just to stay in place”
  • Must perform research to remain Cat 1
    • May do other types of work in addition
    • But, must personally perform research
what rpes panels look for
What RPES Panels Look For
  • Activity
    • Accomplishments and contributions
  • Balance
    • Research
    • Technology Transfer
    • Special assignments
    • Other
  • Impact
    • Useful and significant work
  • Recency
    • Current work
    • Work since last review
not a promotion system
Not A Promotion System
  • Purpose is to ensure positions are properly graded
  • Promotion is one of severalpossible outcomes
    • Has averaged 42-48% of all decisions in recent years
  • Do not expect to be promoted just because you are being reviewed
not performance appraisal
NotPerformance Appraisal
  • RPES is a position classification process, and is not the same as performance appraisal
  • Your performance is appraised annually, measured against standards in your performance plan; the appraisal is the basis for various HR actions (awards, bonuses, within-grade increases, retention in the Federal service, etc.)
  • RPES evaluates your position on a cyclic basis against RGEG criteria; panel decisions determine grade (and salary range)
closing thoughts i
Closing Thoughts (I)
  • RPES evaluates what is… not what “could have been” or “should have been” or “might be”
  • RPES is not a career management system
    • Panel reports will not tell you how to get promoted next time
closing thoughts ii
Closing Thoughts (II)
  • RPES is a dynamic system, always under review
    • RPES Advisory Committee
    • Find your current Area rep at <www.afm.ars.usda.gov/rpes/adv-01.htm>
  • Prepare your case writeup concisely, and choose exhibits wisely
information resources
Information Resources
  • RPES Home Page
    • <www.afm.ars.usda.gov/rpes>

Research Position Evaluation Staff contacts

    • BA, MSA, NAA, and SAA – Dana Lamberti
    • MWA, NPA, PWA, SPA, and OIRP - Pat Humphrey
  • Each Area Office has a designated RPES contact
  • Check out the other online shows in this series