Alternative Work Schedules (AWS)
Alternative Work Schedules (AWS) are available to FERC employees with supervisory approval. AWS encompasses Flexible Work Schedules (FWS) and Compressed Work Schedules (CWS). Adjustable work hours can assist employees in balancing the demands of the workplace with their personal responsibilities and as well as help alleviate commuting frustrations. (OPM Pay & Leave and 5 USC 6101)


Annual leave
A form of paid time off generally used for vacation time or other personal needs. Employees earn 13, 20, or 26 days of annual leave a year, depending on years of service. Annual leave accrues incrementally, i.e., 4, 6, or 8 hours every 2 weeks. (OPM Pay & Leave  and 5 USC 6303)




Bargaining Unit
A grouping of employees that a union represents or seeks to represent that is found to be appropriate for collective bargaining purposes. A clear and identifiable community of interest among the employees in the unit and will promote effective dealings with, and efficiency of the operations of the agency involved. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) oversees representation elections and determines the appropriateness of units. (5 USC 7112)


Basic Qualifications/Basic Requirement
All established minimum qualification requirements as prescribed in the OPM Operating Manual – Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions or an OPM-approved agency-specific qualification standard including appropriate selective factor(s) for the position being filled. (OPM Classification & Qualifications) Each FERC Vacancy will contain a link to the OPM prescribed qualifications requirements for that particular position.


A comprehensive package of federal benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, retirement benefits, long-term disability insurance and flexible spending accounts. Eligibility for certain benefits depends on appointment type. 




Career Appointment/Employee
The employment status of a permanent employee who has completed three years of total creditable federal service. Service must begin with a non-temporary (Permanent - Career-Conditional Appointment), appointment as provided in 5 CFR 315.201(b)(1). A person employed in the competitive service for other than temporary, term, or indefinite employment is appointed as a career or career-conditional employee subject to a probationary period. (OPM Hiring Information and 5 CFR 315.201)


Career Conditional Appointment
Appointment to a non-temporary position in the competitive service pursuant to 5 CFR Part 315. Non-temporary (Permanent) employees are generally hired under a career-conditional appointment (Permanent - Career-Conditional Appointment). Typically, this is the first appointment for new federal employees. The appointee must complete a one year probationary period and a total of three years creditable service to attain a career appointment (Permanent - Career Appointment). (OPM Hiring Information and 5 CFR Part 315)


Career Ladder
The range of grades in an occupational series or specialization starting with the initial level at which an employee is hired. The career ladder will go up to the full performance level of the position. Promotion to higher grade levels within the career ladder is not guaranteed. Promotions are dependent upon the employee’s performance rating being at least fully successful, his/her ability to perform the duties at a higher level, the continuing need for the employee to be assigned to the higher level, and supervisory approval. (LINK TO FERC Merit Promotion Plan)


Career Tenure
After serving three years of total creditable service, a career conditional employee becomes a career employee and gains career tenure. Employees with career tenure have permanent reinstatement eligibility and may be considered for positions without having to take another competitive civil service examination. Total creditable service means service in a non-temporary (Permanent - Career-Conditional Appointment), or other type of employment as provided in 5 CFR 315.201(b)(1).


Career Transitional Assistance Program (CTAP)
A program that requires agencies to give selection priority to their own well-qualified surplus employees who apply for vacancies in agency components in the local commuting area. Agencies must notify their surplus or displaced employees when they plan to fill these jobs. With a few exceptions, the agency must select those who apply and are eligible and well qualified before any other candidate from within or outside the agency. (OPM Employee's Guide to Career Transition p. (3-4) and 5 CFR 330.601)


Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
A defined benefit, contributory retirement system. This retirement system was replaced by FERS in 1987. (OPM CSRS Information and 5 USC 8348)


A system that classifies positions according to the work, consisting of the duties and responsibilities, assignable to an employee. “Class” or “class of positions” includes all positions which are sufficiently similar, as to the kind or subject-matter of work; level of difficulty and responsibility; and the qualification requirements of the work. And “grade,” includes all classes of positions which, although different with respect to kind or subject-matter of work, are sufficiently equivalent as to warrant their inclusion within one range of rates of basic pay in the General Schedule. (5 USC 5101 and 5102)


Classification Standard
Position classification standards provide information used in determining the occupational series and title for positions performing white collar work in the Federal Government. They also provide grading criteria for positions classified under the General Schedule (GS) Classification System. They define the various classes of positions in terms of duties, responsibilities, and qualification requirements; establish the official class titles; and set forth the grades in which the classes have been placed by the Office. (OPM Classification & Qualifications and 5 USC 5105)


The regular pay an employee receives on a biweekly basis is typically referred to as basic pay. When other forms of occasional pay are considered, such as awards and recruitment, retention or relocation incentives, along with basic pay, this is typically referred to as an employee’s total compensation. (OPM Pay & Leave)


Competitive Appointment
All civil service positions in the executive branch of the Federal Government with some exceptions. The exceptions are defined in section 2102 of title 5, United States Code (5 USC 2102). (OPM Hiring Information)


Creditable Service for Annual Leave Accrual (CSALA)
Credit provided for service that otherwise would not be creditable under 5 U.S.C. 6303(a) for the purpose of determining the annual leave accrual rate of an individual receiving his or her first appointment (regardless of tenure) as a civilian employee of the Federal Government or an employee who is reappointed following a break in service of at least 90 calendar days after his or her last period of civilian Federal employment. The head of an agency or his or her designee may, at his or her sole discretion, approve CSALA requests. CSALA requests must be documented and approved prior to the employee’s entrance on duty (EOD) date. (5 USC 6303  and 5 CFR 630.205)




Direct Hiring Authority
OPM-approved agency recruiting plans which expedite recruitment of persons for appointment to positions in shortage occupations. (OPM Hiring Information Image removed. and OPM GPPA Ch 35 p (35-4))




An applicant who satisfies the minimum qualifications requirements for the position, which includes being rated 70 or more in an examination for a Federal job, and therefore is eligible for consideration. (DEO Handbook Glossary and 5 CFR 210.102)

Excepted Service
Unclassified service, unclassified Civil Service or positions outside the competitive service and the senior executive service. Excepted service positions have been excepted from the requirements of the competitive service by law, Executive order, or OPM regulation. (OPM GPPA Ch 35 p (35-4))



Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)
It is a retirement plan that provides benefits from three different sources: A Basic Benefit Plan, Social Security, and the Thrift Savings Plan. This retirement system began in 1987. (5 USC 84  and 5 CFR 841.103 )

Full Performance Level (FPL)
The highest rank, grade or known promotion potential of a given position. The full performance level is the target grade of a position with an established career ladder or training program, which was otherwise filled at a grade below the full performance level grade of the position. (OPM Introduction to the Position Classification Standards p. (8-9), and OPM GPPA Ch 14 p (14-48).



General Schedule (GS)
The classification and pay system for Title 5 employees. The pay structure for the General Schedule has 15 grade levels, with 10 step rates (steps 1-10) that are each worth approximately three percent of the employee’s salary. Positions are classified using government-wide standards to determine their proper occupational series, title, and grade within the General Schedule. (OPM Pay & Leave and 5 USC 5332)

A level of work or range of difficulty, responsibility and qualification requirements. (5 USC 5102)

Grade Interval
The terms “two-grade interval” and “one-grade interval” refer to the differing patterns of career advancement through a sequence of General Schedule grades. The two basic patterns reflect a basic distinction between the two general kinds of white-collar work covered by the General Schedule. Two-grade interval work is typical in the professional and administrative occupational categories, and promotions are granted in the two-grade increments from grades GS-5 through 11 and in one-grade increments at GS-12 and beyond. One-grade interval work is typical in the clerical and technical occupational categories, and promotions are granted in one-grade increments. (OPM Introduction to the Position Classification Standards p. (8-9).



A paid day off for most Federal employees. Federal employees currently receive 10 paid holidays each year:
New Year’s Day (January 1).
Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday in January).
Washington’s Birthday (Third Monday in February).
Memorial Day (Last Monday in May).
Independence Day (July 4).
Labor Day (First Monday in September).
Columbus Day (Second Monday in October).
Veterans Day (November 11).
Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November).
Christmas Day (December 25).
Also, Presidential Inauguration Day for Federal employees in the Washington, DC, area (January 20 following a Presidential election). (OPM Pay & Leave and 5 USC 6103)




Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP)
A process by which employees who have been involuntarily separated may receive selection priority for jobs in agencies other than the one in which they were previously employed. Employees must apply for positions in the local commuting area and include proof that they were displaced. (OPM The Employee's Guide to Career Transition p (15) and 5 CFR 330.701)

Interdisciplinary Position
A position involving duties and responsibilities closely related to more than one professional occupation. As a result, you could classify the position into two or more professional occupational series. The nature of the work is such that persons with education and experience in two or more professions may be considered equally well qualified to do the work. In both categories the position description should show clearly that the position is interdisciplinary and indicate the various series in which the position could be classified. The final position classification is determined by the qualifications of the person selected for the position. (OPM Job Family Position Classification)




Locality Pay
Supplemental locality-based payments in addition to the rate of basic pay that apply in geographic areas where non-Federal pay exceeds Federal pay by more than 5 percent. Most Federal employees—including General Schedule, Senior Executive Services, and senior-level employees, but excluding blue-collar employees and officials paid under the Executive Schedule—are eligible for locality pay. A locality pay area is a geographic area that serves as the basis for setting pay and is established by the President’s Pay Agent for General Schedule employees. See locality pay for FERC’s regional offices here. (OPM Pay & Leave5 USC 53045 CFR 531.602 and 605)




Major Duties
Those that represent the primary reason for the position’s existence, and which govern the qualification requirements. Typically, they occupy most of the employee's time. (Introduction to Position Classification Standards, p. (12))


Merit Promotion Plan
A program to insure a systematic means of selection for promotion according to merit and designed to administer the agency authority to promote, demote, or reassign employees in covered positions. The merit promotion plan describes the policies and procedures to be used in selecting best-qualified applicants to fill vacancies on the basis of merit and qualifications to ensure that basically qualified available applicants receive fair consideration for positions filled under competitive procedures. (5 CFR 335.102  and 103).

Minimum Educational Requirements
The establishment of minimum educational requirements when OPM has determined that the work cannot be performed by persons who do not possess the prescribed minimum education. This includes instances where it would not be cost-effective for an individual to acquire, through on-the-job training, the KSA's necessary for successful performance of the critical duties within a reasonable period of time. In addition, education is sometimes required by law for a position because of the impact on public health and safety or national security. The same minimum educational requirements apply to all applicants and employees, including employees detailed to an occupational series with minimum educational requirements. (OPM Classification & Qualifications  and 5 USC 3308)

Minimum Qualifications
Qualifications that an applicant must possess, at a minimum, to be eligible for hire or promotion under the competitive system. Minimum qualifications are typically expressed in terms of job-related years of experience or education, i.e., course credit hours or a combination of the two. Applicants who do not meet the minimum qualification requirements for the position receive no further consideration. (OPM Classification & Qualification)




Noncompetitive Action
An appointment to, or placement in (promotion, demotion, reassignment, transfer, reinstatement, or an appointment) a position in the competitive service that is not made by selection from an open, competitive examination and that is usually based on current or prior Federal service. (DEO Handbook Glossary)




Occupational Series or Series
A subdivision of an occupational group consisting of positions similar as to specialized line of work and qualification requirements. Series are designated by a title and number such as the Accounting Series, GS-510; the Economics Series, GS-110; the Engineering Series, GS-800. (OPM Classification & Qualification)




Part-Time Employees
Or “part-time career employment” means part-time employment of 16 to 32 hours a week (or 32 to 64 hours during a biweekly pay period in the case of a flexible or compressed work schedule), but does not include employment on a temporary or intermittent basis. (5 USC 3401 and 5 CFR 340)

Pathways Programs
On December 27, 2010, President Obama issued an Executive order on recruiting and hiring students and recent graduates into the federal government. The Pathways Programs authorized under Executive Order 13562 consist of the following three Programs: the Internship Program; the Recent Graduates Program; and the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. Learn more about FERC’s pathways summer internship program here.
(5 CFR 362.101)

Pay Period
A two week period that begins on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday. There are usually 26 pay periods in the calendar year. (5 USC 5504)

Pay Plan
A particular table or array of pay rates prescribed by law or other authoritative source that establishes the basic pay rates for certain employees. The term "pay plan" is intended to include other terms such as pay system, pay schedule, pay scale, pay rates, basic pay schedule, statutory pay system, wage schedule, wage system, wage schedules and rates, regular wage schedule, and special wage schedule and rates. Pay plan codes are used to identify important information about an employee's pay system and the authority governing the pay of an employee's position. "GS" is the pay plan covering most white-collar employees. Other common examples are "EX" (Executive Schedule), "ES" (Senior Executive Service), and "WG" (wage grade employees). (OPM Pay & Leave)

Preference Eligible
A veteran, spouse, widow, mother or father, who meets the definition provided in 5 USC 2108. Preference eligibles shall be listed ahead of individuals who are not preference eligible within each quality category established in a category rating system. Qualified preference eligibles who have a compensable service-connected disability of 10 percent or more shall be listed in the highest quality category for positions other than scientific and professional at GS–9 of the General Schedule (equivalent or higher). Preference does not apply, however, to in-service placement actions, such as promotions. (Vet Guide5 USC 2108 and 3319)

Probationary Period
In general, a period of employment during which an employee’s performance and qualifications are evaluated prior to an appointment becoming permanent. It is the first year of service of an employee who is given a career-conditional appointment and was appointed from a competitive list of eligibles. Prior to successful completion of such a period, employees have limited appeal rights. In some contexts, this period is referred to as a trial period. (5 CFR 315.801 and 806)




A change of an employee while serving continuously within the same agency, from one position to another without promotion or demotion. (5 CFR 210.102(b)(12))

Recruitment Incentive
The payment of up to 25 percent of basic pay in a lump-sum to a newly-appointed Federal employee in a position that would otherwise be difficult to fill. In return, the employee must sign an agreement to fulfill a period of service with the agency (not to exceed 4 years). Agencies may pay recruitment and relocation bonuses to employees under the General Schedule, Senior Executive Service, senior-level, Executive Schedule, and certain other pay systems. (OPM Human Resources Flexibilities and Authorities in the Federal Government p (41) and 5 CFR 575.103)

Non-competitive appointment of a person formerly employed in the competitive service (i.e., who either had a competitive status or was serving probation when separated) into the competitive service as a career or career-conditional employee. (DEO Handbook Glossary)

Relocation Incentive
The payment of up to 25 percent of basic pay in a lump-sum to a current Federal employee who must relocate to fill a position that would otherwise be difficult to fill in the absence of an incentive. In return, the employee must sign an agreement to fulfill a period of service with the agency (not to exceed 4 years). Agencies may pay recruitment and relocation bonuses to employees under the General Schedule, Senior Executive Service, senior-level, Executive Schedule, and certain other pay systems. (OPM Human Resources Flexibilities and Authorities in the Federal Government p (42) and 5 CFR 575.203)




Schedule A Appointment
A category of excepted service appointment that is applicable to positions that are not of a confidential or policy-determining character, and that are not in the Senior Executive Service, but for which it is impracticable to apply competitive examining requirements (e.g., qualification standards). (DEO Handbook Glossary)

Selective Factor
A knowledge, skill or ability (KSA), competency, or special qualification without which a candidate could not perform the duties of a position in a satisfactory manner. Selective factors are applied in addition to minimum qualifications. Applicants who do not meet a selective factor are ineligible for further consideration. (DEO Handbook Glossary)

Senior Executive Service (SES)
The employment system that applies to any positions that are classified above GS-15 and involve executive management and high policy-making responsibilities. SES positions are excluded from the competitive service, the system of rules and regulations that applies to most civil service positions. (DEO Handbook Glossary)

Sick leave
Paid time off for medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment of an employee or family member, care of a sick family member, or bereavement. Employees earn 13 days of sick leave each year (which accumulates without limit in succeeding years). Sick leave accrues incrementally, i.e., 4 hours every 2 weeks. Employees also may use sick leave for adoption purposes. Unused sick leave is not cashed out upon separation. (NOTE: Presidential appointees do not earn sick leave and cannot be charged leave for absences from work.) (OPM Pay & Leave)

An observable competence to perform a learned psychomotor act. (OPM Classification & Qualifications)

Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
A program under which the agency may agree to repay (by direct payments on behalf of the employee) any student loan previously taken out by such employee. Payments are made subject to such terms, limitations, or conditions as may be mutually agreed to by the agency and employee concerned, except that the amount paid by an agency under this section may not exceed: $10,000 for any employee in any calendar year; or a total of $60,000 in the case of any employee. An employee selected to receive benefits under this section must agree in writing, before receiving any such benefit, that the employee will remain in the service of the agency for a period specified in the agreement (not less than three years). (5 USC 5379)

Superior qualifications appointment or above minimum hiring
Appointment of an individual to a General Schedule position at a step above the first step of the grade based on the employee's superior qualifications or a special need of the agency for the employee's services. Agencies may set pay at the higher step only upon initial appointment or upon reappointment after a 90-day break in service. (OPM Pay & Leave)




Temporary Appointment
A non-status appointment to a competitive service position for a specific time period not to exceed one year. (DEO Handbook Glossary)

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
A retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees and members of the uniformed services, including the Ready Reserve. It was established by Congress in the Federal Employees' Retirement System Act of 1986 and offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. It is a defined contribution plan administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. CSRS employees can also contribute but receive no agency contributions. (5 USC 8351 and TSP website)

Time-In-Grade (TIG)
The length of time of required service at a certain grade level in order to be eligible for promotion to positions in the GS pay system. It usually refers to the length of time needed to satisfy the promotion requirements of the next highest level. (5 CFR 300.605)

Time-In-Grade Restrictions
Requirements intended to prevent excessively rapid promotions in competitive service General Schedule positions and to protect competitive principles. They provide a budgetary control on promotion rates and help assure that appointments are made from appropriate registers. Generally, an employee may not be promoted more than two grades within one year to positions up to GS-5. Above GS-5, an employee must serve a minimum of one year in grade, and cannot be promoted more than one grade, or two grades if that is the normal progression. (5 CFR 300.605)

Title 5
The section of the United States Code which provides the law governing the employment of the majority of federal employees including those employees paid under the General Schedule, the Federal Wage System and the Senior Executive Service. (5 USC)

A change of an employee, without a break in service of one full workday, from a position in one agency to a position in another agency that can be filled under the same appointing authority. (OPM GPPA Ch 35 p (35-15))


Veterans’ Preference
A special privilege that entitles qualifying veterans to certain advantages in consideration for federal employment. By law, veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over others in hiring from competitive lists of eligibles and also in retention during reductions in force. To learn more about Veteran’s Preference at FERC. (Vet Guide5 USC 2108330938 USC 5303A(d) and DEO Handbook Glossary )



This page was last updated on August 31, 2020