Federal Employees:

Commerce Department's Reclassification of Three Managerial Positions

GGD-90-41: Published: Jan 18, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 7, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Department of Commerce's reclassification of three managerial positions within its Office of Finance and Federal Assistance (OFFA), focusing on whether Commerce properly moved the three positions from the accounting and budgeting occupational grouping to the administrative and clerical grouping.

GAO found that an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) review of the classification documents advised that the: (1) Director, Office of Financial Management, position more appropriately belonged in the accounting grouping; (2) Director, OFFA, position, a Senior Executive Service (SES) position, was acceptably classified in the general administrative, clerical, and office services grouping, although a higher-level accounting classification was preferable; and (3) classification documents for the Chief, Financial Management Division, position included conflicting information, although the described duties clearly placed the position in the accounting grouping. GAO also found that: (1) Commerce changed the descriptions for the Director, Office of Financial Management, and Chief, Financial Management Division, positions and reclassified them after the OPM review; (2) Commerce believed that the misclassifications were due to misinterpretation of classification guidelines, although there were allegations that Commerce initially reclassified the positions to place nonaccountants in the positions; (3) the nature and timing of certain personnel actions gave the impression that Commerce may have violated merit system principles regarding fair and open competition in filling the Director, OFFA, position; and (4) Commerce removed responsibility for technical supervision over accounting matters from the Director, Office of Financial Management, position, and assigned it to a lower-level managerial position.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The department organization order was issued in August 1990. The Secretary's selection of the Chief Financial Officer was pending as of September 5, 1990. The Secretary selected a qualified accountant for the position of Director of Financial Management on October 7, 1990.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should assign responsibility for technical supervision over the Department's accounting function to a higher-graded position. In assigning this responsibility, the Secretary should consider placing the position at the SES level and specifying requirements for the position that include the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to provide competent technical supervision over accounting matters.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce


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