NAO 202-250: NOAA Management Review Process for Human Resources (HR) - Related Delegated Authorities

Issued 04/24/98; Effective 04/07/98; Reviewed Last: In Process


This NAO establishes a management review process through which NOAA management can ensure appropriate use, of HR-related delegated authorities, accountability, and oversight responsibilities. It also ensures that these authorities are exercised with full consideration of organizational interests and applicable guidelines.


.01 Consistent with the Administration's September 1993 National Performance Review Report, entitled: From Red Tape to Results/Creating a Government That Works Better & Costs Less, the Department of Commerce (DOC) issued a "Reinvention Release" in January 1995 which authorized the delegation of five HR-related authorities to management officials. These authorities, which were previously subject to review and approval by HR offices, pertain to the following actions:

  • training requests;
  • awards (i.e., performance, special act or service, cash-in-your-account, time-off);
  • establishment of performance plans and performance ratings;
  • restoration of forfeited annual leave; and
  • classification of positions covered by the Department's PD Library system (i.e., automated position description repository).

.02 The Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere issued a memorandum in April 1995 delegating these authorities to the Line, Staff, and Program Offices (LO/SO/POs). In that memo, he reiterated the DOC requirement for management officials to receive training prior to exercising these authorities; furthermore, he encouraged re-delegation of these authorities to "the lowest practical level in your organizations". Following the initial round of NOAA-wide training during the summer of 1995, management officials began to exercise these delegated authorities.

.03 Involving the managerial chain of command in these reviews ensures that:

  • perceived merit, consistency, and equity are attained at the organizational level deemed appropriate by management;
  • HR subject-matter advice and expertise are considered; and
  • management makes informed decisions and takes "ownership" for accountable personnel actions.


.01 Although this management review process was developed in consideration of the delegated authorities specified above, it is not confined to those five personnel actions. This review process has applicability for any HR-related authority which has been delegated to management officials, as the issues of appropriate use, accountability, and oversight have universal application.

.02 In practical terms, such management review is not a new concept. In the context of program management and oversight, HR staff members have, in the past, brought proposed personnel actions to the attention of a higher level management official when the potential for adverse consequences for NOAA was perceived as likely. The rationale for such action is that the higher level management had accountability, vulnerability, or exposure at stake, and therefore should be made aware of the issue. Whether the original proposal was sustained, modified, or overruled, what the outcomes had in common is that management - not HR - retained the decision-making authority.


.01 The most common triggering event for initiating this review process is the proposal of a personnel action by a management official - in whom delegated authority is vested - which is:

a. determined by a Servicing HR Director to be in potential conflict with applicable law, regulation, government-wide guideline (e.g., classification standards), or agency/bureau directives (i.e., DAOs/NAOs); or

b. determined by a Servicing HR Director to constitute a precedent-setting personnel action with potential impact outside of the originating LO/SO/PO.

NOTE: It is also possible that personnel actions which have already been taken will be subject to this review process, brought to light through either HR post-audit, or identification by a proposing management official as a "precedent".

.02 The term "precedent-setting personnel action" refers to a situation in which a personnel action taken in one NOAA organization would establish (or establishes) a precedent for other NOAA organizations. Assuming that the outcome in question would be perceived as favorable (e.g., approval for a training request, restored annual leave, position upgrade), management officials and employees who believe they have the same justification would likely seek the same outcome. Issues pertaining to position classification are inherently compelling, in that employees are actually entitled to the "best deal" for themselves based on the grade level of comparable positions. HR's obligation in this regard is to ensure that a precedent-setting personnel action or proposal which has applicability (and thus impact) outside of the proposing LO/SO/PO is brought to the attention of other NOAA organizations.

.03 HR concerns pertaining to either a. or b. above should be raised at the earliest opportunity by HR staff members at the level within the client organization which proposed (or took) the action. Using the respective chain of command for both the client and the HR program, attempts should be made to resolve or reconcile the HR concerns at the lowest possible level. For purposes of this review process, "chain of command" involvement means that issues would be raised as follows:

  1. HR Advisor with Proposing management official
  2. Servicing HR Directors with Management officials at the Office, ASC, and Regional Director levels
  3. Servicing HRMO Director (with national LO/SO/PO coordination responsibility with M & B's/Administrative Officers, Deputy Assistant Administrators (AAs) and heads of SO/POs
  4. Director, HRMO with Deputy Under Secretary (DUS) with or without Deputy AAs as group as appropriate)


.01 These interactions are not intended to be adversarial; rather, they ensure that issues of equity, regulatory compliance, consistency, accountability, and oversight are fully considered.

.02 Written documentation will be generated, as appropriate, for each successive level, so that the issues and positions are understood by all parties.

.03 Successive levels of review would be sought only if unreconciled issues remain.

.04 The third level of review is intended to reflect the LO/SO/PO position.

.05 The fourth level is intended only for unreconciled issues which have potentially negative impact on NOAA as an organization (i.e., were the proposed action to occur, NOAA as an organization would be held accountable and subject to reversal and adverse finding by the Department or outside third party such as Office of Personnel Management, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Merit Systems Protection Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, or the Office of Special Counsel.

a. When an issue raised at the fourth level does not have potential applicability outside of the proposing LO/SO/PO, the matter will be raised to the DUS for review and decision. Both management and HR will have the opportunity to present their positions, and this level of management review will constitute the final step of the NOAA process.

EXAMPLE: classification of positions unique to a LO (e.g., cartographer).

b. When an issue raised at the fourth level does have potential applicability outside of the proposing LO/SO/PO, the matter will be raised to the DUS and the Deputy AA's as a group for review and recommendation. As for a. above, both management and HR will have the opportunity to present their positions. With consideration of the Deputy AAs input, the DUS will make a decision, which again constitutes the final step in the NOAA management review process.

EXAMPLE: classification of positions common to LO/PO/SO's (e.g., secretary, program analysts, administrative officers).




Acting Chief Financial Officer
Chief Administrative Officer

Office of Primary Interest:
Office of Finance and Administration
Human Resources Management Office (OFA4)


Appeal Procedures for Positions Classified under PD Library


To establish appeal procedures for positions classified by management officials under the Position Description (PD) Library.


Any employee whose position of record is classified under PD Library.


PD Library - The Department of Commerce (DOC) repository for generic position descriptions, covering specified occupational series only, which are pre-classified based on application of Office of Personnel Management (OPM) classification and job-grading standards. In NOAA, the authority to assign employees to PD Library positions has been delegated to management officials.

NOAA Management Review Process - The process by which proposed personnel actions, for which decision-making authority has been delegated to management, are subject to review for merit, consistency, and equity from a management accountability and oversight perspective. The NAO to which this appendix is attached governs this process.

Appeal procedures.

Covered employees may appeal the classification of their PD Library position at any time, as follows:

1. The appeal must be first raised by the employee to the management level which made the determination that the appellant is appropriately assigned to the PD Library position description of record. Typically, this is the management official who signs the "Classification Certification" block on the CD-516LF, Position Description Coversheet. NOTE: The management level to which this authority is delegated varies among LO/SO/POs. For recordkeeping purposes, appeal submissions must be raised using either written or electronic media (i.e., email).

2. The appropriate management official will request an advisory classification analysis from his/her Servicing Human Resources Office (SHRO).

3. The SHRO will conduct traditional fact-finding - which may or may not include a desk audit - and prepare a formal, written evaluation statement which compares the duties and responsibilities of the position with applicable classification standards. This advisory classification analysis will be provided to the requesting management official.

4. The management official will review the advisory classification analysis and make a decision regarding the classification of the appellant's position:

  • If the decision is consistent with the advisory, the management official will issue a written decision to the appellant. This decision will incorporate the SHRO advisory analysis as part of the rationale for the decision. It will also advise the employee of the right to file a classification appeal with either DOC or OPM; or
  • If the management official intends to issue a decision which is contrary to the advisory, then the management official shall notify both the next level of management and the SHRO before the decision is provided to the appellant. This step is consistent with the "management review process" as set forth in this NAO. This matter will be reconciled in accordance with this NAO before a decision is provided to the appellant, and such decision will provide the same information (i.e., rationale and appeal rights) as the decision in a. above.

5. The employee receives a written decision regarding the classification of his/her position, which constitutes the NOAA decision. As indicated above, this decision advises the appellant of the procedures for filing a classification appeal with either DOC or OPM.