The federal government requires that positions and duties be properly classified
so that, for among other reasons, employees can be paid according to the
duties they are performing. To fulfill this responsibility, the Office
of Personnel Management approves and issues position classification standards
that must be used by agencies to determine the title, series, and grade
of positions covered by Title 5, United States Code. Each agency has an
HR specialist called a “classifier” whose duties include properly
classifying the occupational series and grade for each agency position.
Sometimes, a federal employee is assigned additional duties and responsibilities
as a result of job growth, or perhaps through unplanned circumstances.
This is referred to as an “accretion of duties.” If the employee
believes that he or she is performing duties consistent with a higher-paid
position, and certain other conditions are met, the employee may be eligible
for an “accretion of duties” promotion. This is a non-competitive
promotion by which employees performing work above their General Schedule
(GS) grade level can seek to have their grade level reclassified to a
level commensurate with the work they actually are performing.
The first step in seeking an accretion of duties promotion is requesting
a desk audit, which is the method used for obtaining information about
a position.. This can be requested by the classifier, the employee, or
the employee’s supervisor. The desk audit involves interviews held
by the classifier with the employee and the supervisor. A position desk
audit focuses solely on the current work assigned and does not address
hypothetical or projected duties. Positions are classified based on major
regular and recurring duties. Minor or temporary duties do not affect
the position’s classification. Additionally, volume of work is not
grade controlling but rather a position management consideration. Finally,
a classification determination should not address concerns regarding an
individual employee’s qualifications, promotion, or work performance.
If certain other conditions are met, the incumbent employee may receive
an accretion of duties promotion. However, this is not a certainty, and
in fact the desk audit may result in the position being reclassified to
a lower grade – in essence, a demotion.
The desk audit process, including whether to conduct a desk audit or to
grant an accretion of duties promotion, is protected by the same employment
rights inhering in other aspects of federal employment. It is possible
that a request for a desk audit might be denied in a discriminatory or
retaliatory way, or the desk audit conducted unlawfully, or any number
of other unlawful acts that unfortunately may be present in the federal
If you are a federal employee who believes you have been unfairly denied
a promotion, whether competitive or non-competitive, you may need experienced
legal counsel to help you fight. The skilled federal employment attorneys
at The Federal Practice Group Worldwide Service are knowledgeable about
the laws and protections to which federal employees are entitled. They
are experienced in fighting for the rights of federal employees against
discriminatory and retaliatory acts in the federal government workplace.
If you are a federal employee facing unlawful denial of a promotion, illegal
retaliation or reprisal, or another legal problem related to your federal
employment, contact the capable federal employment attorneys at The Federal
Practice Group Worldwide Service for a case evaluation.