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Issue Matrix

    Questions/Comments from the FieldAnswer
    What is happening with the mentoring program?The mentoring program is District-based. Employees should check with their chains of command or their CPAC for applicability.
    Why can't we have journeyman level rangers at the GS-11 grades?The 025 ranger series are judged by an OPM classification guide, TS-75, dated November of 1985. Grading guidance is found in this guide. OPM has been approached in the past concerning a need to look at the standards; however, the largest user of the series, the National Park Service, (NPS), has chosen not to be aggressive on the subject.
    Why are grades in other branches higher?Each position is graded based on an interpretation of the job vs. an OPM classification guide.
    Why isn't the 025 a professional series?The NRMCDSC spent a great deal of time working with the NPS and OPM in an attempt to either classify 025 as a professional series or create another series for rangers which would be deemed professional. OPM was, and is, strongly opposed to creating another series as their goal is to reduce the number of series currently existing. The changing of the 025 series to a professional series is hindered by the incorporation of the old 026 (technical) series into the 025 several years ago. Additionally, both the Corps and the NPS have several employees who would not be able to convert if the 025 were changed to a professional series.
  • (3/2001) HQ informs that they are once again looking at this initiative.
  • There are no consistent career ladders across the COE.The committee is identifying organizational structures from each District across the nation, (completed analysis should be posted upon this Website in the near future). Upon initial glance, it appears that there is not a significant lack of consistency in grade structure or career ladders. The Standard Organizational Structure (SOS) blurred some of the "stovepipe" lines pre-1995; however, it appears that persons willing to be mobile have more opportunities than ever before to prepare for and obtain higher level jobs in Operations and other COE Divisions.
    Committee should act as a clearinghouse for training/career development opportunities.Through this Website, the committee will attempt to provide information that will allow the user to make informed choices about training needs, how to find the appropriate training, and how to obtain it.
    Need more PROSPECT courses for administrative support staff.The U.S.D.A Graduate School and other training agencies offer a wide array of administrative support training. While not specifically dealing with COE material, these courses are excellent working tools.
    Huntsville drops courses after individuals schedule training and receive approval.Insufficient enrollement generally dictates that a course not be given, since Huntsville tries to operate at no less than a "break-even" status per course. Individuals should check often with their training officer concerning the status of any course.
    Flexiplace/Flexitime IssuesNot within the purview of the NRMCDSC. District administrative issue.
    Jobs are being announced with artificial restrictions such as "in-house" hire.(1) Jobs announced with artificial restrictions designed to limit the competitive range to a select group of individuals is consistently being challenged within the COE. Officials must validate the need for technical expertise in management, and other positions before placing such a restriction in a position description or a job vacancy announcement.

    (2) Management may elect to advertise some jobs as "in-house" to avoid adverse actions to a group of employees. For example, if hiring someone from the outside would place a unit over its authorized strength, resulting in an adverse action, an "in-house" hire may be warranted.

    Need career counseling tips for managers.The recommended reading section of this Website contains books and on-line articles for career counseling.
    How do we search and apply for jobs?The Job Search portion of this Website contains tips about looking for a job and provides helpful links. Links to the proper preparation of resumes and the use of resumix can be found in Job Search and Recommended Reading
    Why is the COE holding employment panels for low grades?Employment panels were established to abolish what some had felt had become a "good ole boy" network. Employment panels help ensure that the most qualified and best persons are selected for the position.
    Why do we have GS-05 & GS-07 journeymen rangers?GS -05 and GS-07 positions are addressed in OPM classification guide, TS-75. It is apparent that some classification experts disagree on the interpretation of the classification guidance. Some feel that each grade level listed in the guidance is independent of the other; thus, journeyman level, while others feel that the 05 and 07 levels are "training" levels in a progressive series for the GS-09 position.
    Who has access to WWW?HQ has taken a position that strongly supports every team member having access to the Internet and World Wide Web.
    Removing barriers relating to resources and mindsets in regard to training.The importance of training is found in various parts of this Website. Resources for training are corporately managed by the Corps of Engineers. In its simplest terms, training dollars are capped at levels tied to a percentile of a total budget.
    Supervisors no longer have time to be career counselors. It is true that in today's Corps and in other federal agencies, "rightsizing" and supervisor/employee ratio targets have diminished the discretionary time of many managers and supervisors. However, good supervisors will place career counseling high on their priority list.
    NRM training is insufficient.1. Mandatory or highly recommended job-specific training requirements for the NRM program have been on the rise since the late 1980s. In this new age of automation, new and specific training requirements (OMBIL, CEFMS, PERSAC, NRRS) etc. have eaten into training budgets (both time and money). As such, resources for longer-range, discretionary courses, have diminished.

    2. In the late 1980's, a training survey was conducted with NRM employees and their supervisors in an attempt to "plug the gap" for missing training needs that were not available. Based on the results of that survey, this committee concluded no training needs were identified that were not already addressed by the COE, another agency, or the private sector.

    COE rangers have turned into specialists, therefore there is no broad-based training.Rangers and managers are encouraged to perform all aspects of their job description. Employees who are not satisfied with their present circumstances should discuss the situation with their supervisors and consider all options available.
    Obtaining OPM certification to approve training on VISA or other small purchasing.Prior to CEFMS and the budget cap, this was a viable option. However, given the current regulations, the cap of training budgets and CEFMS training coding, this concept is not longer attractive.
    How can training costs be reduced?Too many employees only see training associated with travel as "true training." Alternative training and non-traditional vendors provide excellent training at reduced costs to the agencies. The recently released Safe Self is an example of non-traditional exportable training. One-day seminars (e.g. Fred Pryor, Career Track etc.) can provide broad-based training at a fraction of the cost of a government-sponsored course. Employees willing to invest their non-work time in training can take advantage of distance learning, local community colleges, or local vocational-technical training.
    Mini-scholarships?The Corps does provide mini-scholarships in the form of some long range training programs. These programs give the employee the opportunity to leave the work place for periods of time up to a year, go back to school and pursue an advanced degree.
    Career Ladders (cross-functions)The Natural Resource Management Career Development Guide (EP 690-2-2), currently in update, encourages those employees seeking higher grades to look at positions, both developmentally and permanently, which may be in PL, RE, PPMD or others. From a corporate perspective, the COE wants the best and brightest in key positions.
    Encourage supervisors to make maximum use of details?HQ and this committee are strong advocates of providing short-term experience through the use of details. Supervisors unfamiliar with detailing employees should check with their local CPAC for the options available.
    Want and need more developmental assignments in HQ. HQ would like to see the number of developmental assignments increased, but limited resources have actually caused a decrease in the last several years.
    Rangers/Specialists not getting enough management experience.Managers and supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that personnel are working within the confines of an approved and established position description. There is some latitude and those employees interested in obtaining management experience may work with their supervisor to identify those areas and functions that can satisfy those needs.
    IDP/Counseling Issues.IDPs and counseling are the cornerstones of long-term planning. ER provides the regulatory guidance behind the program. Development of IDPs and the associated counseling session is as much a responsibility of the team member as it is of the supervisor. Team members should approach such sessions prepared to discuss issues and armed with pertinent questions.
    Rangers and specialists are doing too many small tasks.This is a local issue that must be handled project by project. It's accepted that there are some small repetitive tasks that must been done at each project. An avenue that may work well at some projects is the use of volunteers or interns to perform many of these minor tasks. Hopefully these occupy a very insignificant amount of a professional's time.
    Supervisory work being performed by lower graded (non-supervisory) personnel is not being recognized.The proverbial Catch 22! Human nature, being what it is, causes some lower-graded team members who are hungry for advancement to look for the edge that supervisory work will bring in the competitive job market. The advantages of performing "over and above" are not always tangible. However, if the team member feels that they are being mistreated in this role, they have a first obligation to discuss it with their manager/supervisor.
    Make the grade structure available.This committee is currently preparing a report that will make the year 2000 grade structure available, District byDistrict. We hope to post it to this site in the near future.
    Can we get an English version of SCEP/STEP/TEMP?A matrix outlining the pros and cons and attributes of four different programs is provided.
    Not enough internal conferences.The Corps, concerned that too many internal conferences were taking place and simply costing too much in time and money, placed controls on conferences. Regulatory guidance can be found under Policies and Procedures on this Website, ER
    Stress/Burnout/Career PlateauDr. Bonnie Bryson recently studied career plateauing and its results. Her sample group was the Corps NRM family.
    Administration and maintenance - What does the community look like? Appears to be low grades for the responsibilities.OPM provides classification guidance for all clerical and maintenance employees. The recent empowerment and hence the delegation of work to the field, especially in the clerical field, has no doubt outdated position descriptions. While the 318 series was once the standard, managers and supervisors may want to consider looking at the 303 series for the future.
    Lists of colleges and links to placement officers for summer hires.The summer hire program is largely regional as opposed to nation. Jobs (both permanent and temporary) are posted on either OMP or a CPOC on CPOL. Managers and supervisors should establish and maintain relationships with regional educational facilities to promote their program.

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Updated August 2006