Establishing New Positions

How Do I Establish a New Position? 

Typical Scenario:

You wish to establish a new position because your organization has a new function to perform, because workload has increased, or because you want to restructure the work of your organization.


Meeting your mission goals is a team effort. Probably the most fundamental decision you can make is to determine how you want that team configured. That's a question of position management. Assigning duties and establishing positions affect the cost of getting a job done. How well you carry out this task can also affect the efficiency with which you meet your goals. And if you have done a good job of position management, it can also affect how well you will be able to recruit and retain employees. 

Where Do I Start? 

Start by finding out whether your organization has the ceiling for a new position. Then talk to your servicing Human Resources Office. Now is the time to discuss issues like job requirements, possible grade levels, likely availability of qualified candidates and possible avenues for recruiting. Your Human Resources Office can save you time and effort by pointing out short cuts and steering you away from pitfalls. 

Rules and Flexibilities: 

Agencies are free to establish positions within the limits of budget and personnel ceilings. There are no Government-wide laws or regulations restricting what duties go into a position. Every position in the Federal civil service is classified by a series, title and grade level. Job classification is based on the policy (establish by law) of "equal pay for work of equal value." This phrase means jobs of equal difficulty are supposed to get the same compensation. One of the primary purposes of classification is to determine systematically the proper levels of compensation in a way that can be applied consistently for Federal jobs. The classification system is a process by which the functions of a position are measured against classification standards or benchmarks. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has developed classification standards for a majority of Federal jobs. The classification system has two broad classification groupings, divided along the lines of white collar and blue-collar occupations: General Schedule (GS) for administrative, technical and professional jobs; and Federal Wage System - Wage Grade (WG) and Wage Supervisor (WS) - for trades and crafts. 

GS positions have 15 grade levels. Within each level there are 10 pay steps. WG an WS positions also have 15 grade levels, but only have five pay-rate steps in each level. The higher the grade level, the higher the pay. This reflects a higher level of authority, responsibility, scope and/or complexity of the work. There is a classification standard for every major job category and separate standards for leader and supervisory jobs. 

Basic Steps: 

Once you have established that your organization has a slot within your allotted personnel ceiling for the position, use the following steps:      

  • Consult classifier to determine whether a position like the one you want to establish already exists. 
  • If the classifier does not have a position description that meets your needs, you will be required to develop a draft position description. Begin by jotting down an outline of the duties and responsibilities that will be assigned to the new position. Then talk to you Human Resources Office for pointers on drafting a more detailed description of the position's duties and responsibilities. 
  • Determine whether an employee in an established career ladder can perform the duties required of the new position. You may be able to move that employee into the new position without competition, i.e., without positing a vacancy announcement and considering other candidates. Refer to "How Do I Promote Employees?" for information on career ladder promotions. 
  • Consult with classifier to discuss whether the position is one for which the incumbent will required to file a Standard Form (SF) 450 confidential Financial Disclosure (i.e., requires exercise of significant judgment in contracting or procurement; administering or monitoring grants, subsidies, licenses, or other Federal benefits; or regulating, auditing, or other duties directly and substantially affecting non Federal entities). 
  • Consult with classifier to discuss whether the position is part of a bargaining unit and covered by a collective bargaining agreement. 
  • Prepare the position description and send it with a request to establish the position to your Human Resources Office. Your organization's administrative staff should be able to help you properly route the package. 
  • Your Human Resources Office will then determine the classification for the position based on OPM classification standards.