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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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RPES… An Overviewfor New Researchers

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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