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RPES… An Overview for New Researchers

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  1. RPES… An Overviewfor New Researchers

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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?

  8. 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?

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. Time… 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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)

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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