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This page provides an overview of the Merit Promotion Process for both Competitive Service (Career) and Excepted Service positions.

Intro to the Merit process

Before going into the process, it’s important to note that “promotions” in the traditional sense (private sector) do not exist within the federal government.

Government has a position driven view; everything begins with the need, not the person. This means that a position is not created for the purpose of promoting someone. Instead, the organization identifies a need for a higher level position due to the type of work that must be accomplished and can choose to fill that need through multiple recruitment or staffing methods, including the Merit Promotion process.

“One avenue of recruitment is through GSA’s merit staffing process. GSA’s Merit Promotion Plan contains the requirements for filling vacancies through internal competition, i.e., filling from existing GSA and other eligible staff (i.e. federal employees in other agencies). Merit promotion procedures provide a fair and systematic means of identifying, considering, and selecting GSA and other eligible candidates for promotions and career opportunities based on the Merit Principles.”

As you can see from the above excerpt from GSA’s policy, the Merit process is for “filling vacancies through internal competition”. The Merit process increases visibility of opportunities within TTS and creates an avenue for other federal employees to join TTS, thereby increasing the diversity of the organization.

  • For all roles, employees interested in applying must have one-year in grade in order to be eligible to apply. That means if you are a GS-11, you cannot apply to a merit promotion announcement until you have been a GS-11 for no less than one year.

Filling a vacancy via Competitive Service (Career) Merit Promotion Process

As part of the larger FAS organization, TTS must also meet the agency staffing plan requirements. Which means that offices across TTS have a set number of “positions” (i.e., things that represent FTE) that have been approved by TTS, CFO, and FAS Front Office as part of the TTS Staffing Plan. If an office has vacant positions available, they can choose to fill those positions through external recruitment or through the Merit Promotion process (i.e., internal recruitment of current or former feds from other agencies).

  • The office requesting the hiring action must have a vacant position available on the staffing plan that can accommodate the required GS level.
  • If an available position isn’t on the approved staffing plan, then TTS Front Office & CFO will need to approve a business justification for the position. After approval, OHRM will need to create a new position number.
  • Whether internal or external, all hiring actions will be included in the overall TTS backlog. They will be reviewed and approved by TTS leadership following the process that’s in use today.

Once the hiring action reaches the top of the backlog or has been given priority standing by the applicable Business Unit and TTS Front Office, then the Talent team can initiate the action with OHRM. At this point the process and requirements are the same as any other competitive service hiring action.

Talent will assist and facilitate in the hiring process but in order to avoid conflicts of interest, the hiring action owner will be primarily responsible for developing job materials (Position Description (PD), Specialized Experience, etc.). For example, Talent will assist in submitting new PD requests to OHRM Classification and will attend the meetings with the hiring action owner, but won’t be drafting materials on behalf of the hiring action owner.

After hiring action owners create all the required documents, the hiring action is ready for announcement. Talent will submit all documentation to the OHRM Staffing Specialist and work with them to get the job announcement posted on USAJobs.

As a Competitive Service Merit Promotion hiring action, the opportunity will be limited to only current or former federal employees. To address the feedback we’ve received regarding diversity, specifically about providing opportunities for other federal employees to compete for roles within TTS, the application will be open to all federal employees.

The job announcements will be posted on USAJobs.

  • Jobs will be posted for 5 to 10 days.
  • Jobs will be open to all Competitive Service federal employees to ensure diversity of the applicant pool.

As a Competitive Service Merit Promotion hiring action, all candidate selection activities (reviewing resumes, making a selection, etc.) is handled through OHRM’s Monster hiring system. It’s up to each hiring action owner to define what their selection process will be (interviews, etc.). Talent can assist in the coordination of these activities.

TTS employees who are interested in applying for the position should reach out to their supervisor (if they are not the hiring action owner), peers, or the online resources below for guidance. They should not reach out to the Talent Team, as it would be a conflict of interest for us to advise any potential applicant on anything other than process-related questions or issues.

Other teams or offices who have a hiring need may ask to view the qualified candidate pool from another team’s posted role and make a selection if they have an available position on the staffing plan.

  • In order to hire a candidate to a different team or office, the hiring action owner will need a PD similar to the one associated with the job announcement.

Filling a vacancy via the Excepted Service version of the Merit Promotion Process

Although Excepted Service actions are governed by a slightly different set of requirements, TTS has elected to align Excepted Service with our internal competitions process; this will create parity between the two processes and the offices that are affected by them. We want all staff to feel like they have the same opportunities. Aligning the processes provides all of the same benefits of transparency, visibility, diversity, etc.

  • The role needs to be prioritized by the Business Unit Lead

  • The office requesting the Excepted Service Promotion action will need to have a vacant position available on the CFO-approved staffing plan that can accommodate the required GS level.

  • The Excepted Service Promotion opportunity will be posted internally and will be open to anyone in TTS.

The hiring action owner is responsible for defining what the minimum requirements are for the role (i.e., the “specialized experience” needed to be eligible) and the selection process, including any interviewing materials or criteria that will be used to make the selection. To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, Talent will assist in an advisory role only.

  • After the hiring action owner has made a selection, Talent will submit the needed information (applicant resume and PD) to OHRM who will then qualify that applicant. If the applicant is found qualified, OHRM will process the action, moving the selected staff to the new position.

For an overview on the process for advertising an excepted service promotion go to our Hiring page.

Training and additional resources

Virtual trainings and information on writing a resume, navigating USAJobs, and generally working in the federal government.