Office of Personnel Management

Chapter 10: Section 1

General Responsibilities and Procedures 

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal government’s central human resources agency, is an independent agency within the Executive Branch. Its director and deputy director are nominated by the President and subject to confirmation by the Senate. OPM can be contacted at: 1900 E St. N.W., Washington, DC 20415; phone (202) 606-1800; www.opm.gov

Specifically, OPM:

• provides leadership to strengthen the government’s human resources management;

• protects the merit system and veterans’ rights through oversight;

• supports agencies in merit-based candidate assessment and hiring;

• supports agencies in workforce restructuring;

• ensures the suitability of federal employees and provides for personnel investigations;

• promotes executive leadership for a results-oriented government;

• provides government-wide human resources development leadership and policy;

• delivers executive and management development and training;

• manages the retirement and insurance programs;

• administers the system for setting federal compensation and benefits;

• provides tools for employee performance management;

• promotes effective labor-management and employee relations;

• enhances the ability of federal employees to balance work and personal responsibilities;

• administers the government’s leave programs; and

• manages a comprehensive workforce information system.

See the pertinent sections of this Federal Employees Almanac for descriptions of those programs. Points of contact for OPM offices are at www.opm.gov/about-us. The information below describes OPM’s role in adjudicating certain types of disputes between employees and their agencies.

Compensation and Leave Claims

OPM has the authority to settle claims involving federal employees’ compensation and leave, including settlement of accounts for deceased employees (as well as for claims involving veterans benefits canceled after the beneficiary’s death). 

A claim must be submitted by the claimant in writing and must be signed by the claimant or by the claimant’s representative. While no specific form is required, the request should describe the basis for the claim and state the amount sought. The claim should also include: the name, address, telephone number, and email address (if available) of the claimant; the name, address, telephone number, and email address (if available) of the agency employee who denied the claim; a copy of the denial of the claim issued by the employing agency; and any other information that the claimant believes OPM should consider.

At the discretion of the agency, the agency may forward the claim to OPM on the claimant’s behalf. The claimant is responsible for ensuring that OPM receives all the information requested. 

OPM may request the agency to provide an administrative report. This report should include: the agency’s factual findings; the agency’s conclusions of law with relevant citations; the agency’s recommendation for disposition of the claim; a complete copy of any regulation, instruction, memorandum, or policy relied upon by the agency in making its determination; a statement that the claimant is or is not a member of a collective bargaining unit, and if so, a statement that the claim is or is not covered by a negotiated grievance procedure that specifically excludes the claim from coverage (if you are in a bargaining unit that has a contract that does not specifically exclude compensation and leave claims from the scope of its negotiated grievance procedure, you must use that procedure; see Negotiated Grievance Procedures in Chapter 8, Section 6); and any other information that the agency believes OPM should consider. Claims should be sent to the Classification and Pay Claims Program Manager, Merit System Audit and Compliance, Office of Personnel Management, Room 6484, 1900 E St. N.W., Washington, DC 20415, (202) 606-7948. 

Position Classification Appeals

OPM decides classification appeals from current federal employees or their designated representatives. Regulations for appeals for General Schedule employees are in 5 CFR 511 subpart F. Regulations for appeals for Federal Wage System employees are in 5 CFR 532 subpart G. 

What May Be Appealed—You may seek a change in the grade, occupational series, and sometimes the title of a position, and may seek to have a General Schedule position changed to the Federal Wage System or vice-versa.

You may not appeal the content or accuracy of an official position description, the accuracy of a classification standard, an agency’s proposed classification decision, the classification of positions to which you are not officially assigned, or the classification of positions to which detailed or temporarily promoted for less than two years.

Before submitting an appeal, make sure that the position description identifies the major duties assigned and being performed. OPM usually will not accept an appeal until the agency has fulfilled this responsibility.

Appeal Choices—You may appeal the classification of a position to the employing agency at any time. General Schedule employees may appeal to the employing agency or directly to OPM. However, they may not appeal to the agency and OPM at the same time. GS employees also may make a classification appeal to OPM through the employing agency. The agency must act on the appeal within 60 days or forward it to OPM for action.

OPM recommends that GS employees first seek an appeal decision from the employing agency; if the agency decision is unfavorable, they still can appeal to OPM, but those who appeal first to OPM and receive an unfavorable decision cannot then appeal to the employing agency.

Federal Wage System employees must first appeal to the employing agency. If dissatisfied, they may appeal to OPM. The appeal to OPM must be filed within 15 calendar days of the date the employee receives the agency’s decision. OPM may extend the time limit in certain circumstances.

Appealing to the Employing Agency—Appeals of position or job classification to the employing agency generally start with the human resources office, which can explain the agency’s appeal procedures.

Appealing to OPM—Appeals to OPM should contain the following information in writing: name, mailing address, and commercial office telephone number; present classification of your position and the requested classification; name of the department or agency and the office; city and the installation’s mailing address; a copy of the official position description and either a statement affirming that it is accurate or a detailed explanation of the inaccuracies and an explanation of the efforts made to correct the position description; any additional information about the position that will aid in understanding it; and arguments supporting the requested classification by referencing the appropriate classification standards.

You may have a representative (designated in writing) help prepare and present an appeal, but the representative cannot be someone with management or classification authority over the position. Appeals must be sent to: Classification Appeals and Pay Claims Program Manager, Merit System Audit and Compliance, Office of Personnel Management, Room 6484, 1900 E St. N.W., Washington, DC 20415, (202) 606-7948.

OPM’s appeal decision is based on information supplied by you and your agency. If additional information is needed, it can be obtained through correspondence, telephone call, or on-site visit. OPM does not conduct appeal hearings. OPM bases decisions on the work assigned, the qualifications required to perform that work, and the classification standards. The position will not be compared to other positions. OPM does not consider such factors as your qualifications that are not required for the work, quality of performance, or volume of work assigned to the position. 

OPM will notify both you and your agency in writing of its decision. The effective date of any change in grade, occupational series, or title will be stated in the decision. OPM’s appeal decision is binding on the agency and on all administrative, certifying, payroll, disbursing, and accounting officials. OPM may raise or lower the grade of a position as the facts warrant. The employing agency still keeps full control over the assignment of duties to a position and who performs those duties.

Reconsideration of OPM Appeal Decision—There is no automatic right to a review of an OPM appeal decision. However, OPM may, at its discretion, reconsider the decision when either you or your agency submits written evidence or arguments that establish a reasonable doubt as to the technical accuracy of the decision, or presents new, relevant, and substantive information that was not considered in the original decision. 

The director of OPM has discretion to reconsider any decision when written evidence or argument is submitted that tends to establish that the decision is erroneous in its interpretation of statute, regulation, or current policy. 

The director may also reconsider a decision that involves a new or unreviewed policy consideration, which may have effects beyond the case at hand, or when the case is so exceptional that it warrants the director’s personal attention.

The deadline for submitting a request for reconsideration is 45 calendar days after the date of the decision.

Retroactivity—A classification action may be made effective retroactively (and back pay be given) only if it corrects a classification action that resulted in an actual decrease in pay. In order for the decision to be made retroactive, you must appeal the classification to either the agency or OPM, but not both at the same time, within 15 calendar days after the effective date of the reclassification action. Retroactivity may be based only on duties and responsibilities existing at the time of demotion and cannot be based on duties and responsibilities assigned later.

Fair Labor Standards Act Claims

Employees may file a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime claim with either the employing agency or with OPM, but cannot pursue that claim with both the agency and OPM at the same time. OPM encourages employees to get a decision on the claim from the agency before filing at OPM. Employees who get an unfavorable decision on an administrative FLSA claim from the agency may still file the claim with OPM. However, those who appeal first to OPM and receive an unfavorable decision cannot then appeal to the employing agency. 

An FLSA pay claim is subject to a two-year statute of limitations, except in cases of a willful violation, where the statute of limitations is three years. 

Note: If you are included in a union collective bargaining unit (even if not a dues-paying member of the union), check with the union and/or your agency’s labor relations office to see if a contract mandates that you file any FLSA claim through a negotiated grievance procedure. See Negotiated Grievance Procedures in Chapter 8, Section 6.

Filing with the Employing Agency—Employees filing an FLSA claim with an agency should follow that agency’s procedures; the human resources office can provide that information. At the employee’s request, the agency may send the claim to OPM. 

Filing at OPM—Claims filed at OPM should be sent to the Classification Appeals and FLSA Claims Program Manager, Merit System Audit and Compliance, Office of Personnel Management, Room 6484, 1900 E St. N.W., Washington, DC 20415, (202) 606-7948. FLSA claims may not be filed electronically. 

Claims should contain the following information in writing: your full name; the employing agency during the claim period; the position (job title, pay plan, series, and grade) occupied during the claim period; current mailing address, commercial telephone and fax numbers, if available (and the same information on any representative you designate); a description of the nature of the claim and the specific issues or incidents giving rise to the claim, including the time period covered; a description of actions you took to resolve the claim within the agency and the results of any actions taken; a copy of any relevant decision or written response by the agency; evidence that supports your claim, including the identity, commercial telephone number, and location of other individuals who may be able to provide information relating to the claim; the remedy you seek; evidence, if available, that the claim period meets the time limits in 5 CFR 551.702 (the date the agency or OPM received the claim, whichever is earlier, becomes the date the claim period is preserved); a statement that you were or were not a member of a collective bargaining unit at any time during the claim period; if you were a member of a bargaining unit, a statement that you were or were not covered by a negotiated grievance procedure (see Negotiated Grievance Procedures in Chapter 8, Section 6) at any time during the claim period, and if covered, whether that procedure specifically excluded the claim from the scope of the negotiated grievance pro-cedure; a statement that you have or have not filed an action in an appropriate United States court; and any other information you believe OPM should consider. 

Other Challenges—An OPM decision on a claim is final and is not subject to further administrative review. Nothing limits your right to bring an action in an appropriate United States court. Filing a claim with a federal agency or with OPM does not stop the statute of limitations from running. OPM will not decide a claim that is in litigation. 


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