Conversions of Selected Employees from Noncareer to Career Positions at Departments and Certain Agencies

GAO-05-584R: Published: Jun 9, 2005. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 2005.

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George H. Stalcup
(202) 512-9490


Office of Public Affairs
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According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a "conversion" occurs whenever an employee changes from one personnel "status" or "service" to another without a break in federal government service of more than 3 days. There are many kinds of conversions. This report focuses on one type of conversion, i.e., employees converting from noncareer to career positions. Conversions of individuals from noncareer to career positions must conform to applicable regulations and qualification requirements. As requested, we are providing Congress with information on the number of employees who were converted from noncareer to career positions during the 32-month period from May 1, 2001, through December 31, 2003, as reported to us by 41 departments and agencies. The types of positions this letter covers and a definition of each, along with the criteria we used to select the 41 departments and agencies, are listed in the scope and methodology section. As agreed with Congress, we will report at a later date on conversions reported by departments and selected agencies from May 1, 2001, through April 30, 2005. That report will discuss (1) the number of all conversions occurring during that 4-year period; (2) for each of these conversions, characteristics of the noncareer positions previously held by employees and the career positions to which they were converted; and (3) whether the departments and selected agencies followed appropriate authorities and proper procedures in converting employees holding noncareer positions to career positions at the GS-12 level and above.

On the basis of data submitted by the 41 departments and agencies and our discussions with them, 77 individuals holding noncareer positions were converted to career positions during the 32 months from May 1, 2001, through December 31, 2003. These conversions were reported by 18 of the 41 departments and agencies we surveyed. The other 23 departments and agencies reported no conversions during this period. Forty-four (57 percent) of the 77 reported conversions were made by three departments: the Departments of Defense (17), Justice (17), and Health and Human Services (10).

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