64. Upward Mobility Program

Other reference(s): APHIs/Personnel/Chapter 296 #5, Chapter 315 #1, Chapter 720 #1 5 C.F.R., Part 720

It is the policy of United States Attorneys' offices (USAOs) to effectively utilize their personnel resources by increasing the opportunities of lower-level employees to attain their full employment potential. To that end, the following Upward Mobility Program, which consists of three components (career and educational counseling, basic skills training, and job restructuring) has been developed. The Upward Mobility Program is designed to supplement the Merit Staffing Plan.

  1. Program Eligibility: USAO employees who meet the following criteria are eligible for participation in the Upward Mobility Program:

    1. Presently serving under a permanent competitive appointment;
    2. Have at least one year of service with the Department; and
    3. Are assigned to a single interval series job at or below GS-8.
  2. Career and Educational Counseling: Career and educational counseling is an important part of the Upward Mobility Program. It is designed to provide employees with the opportunity to explore their career interests and to assist them in formulating realistic career plans. Offices will provide career counseling for all eligible employees.
  3. General Education and Basic Skills: All eligible and interested employees should be afforded training opportunities designed to provide them with an under- standing of the world of work, skill in dealing with others, and improved communications skills. Offices are encouraged to utilize local training facilities, including the Office of Personnel Management, to provide basic skills courses for all interested employees. These might include telephone techniques, basic filing, typing, shorthand, office procedures, and legal secretarial skills. This training is in addition to other training provided to employees, to improve their current performance. If training is primarily provided to qualify an employee for promotion, all eligible employees must be allowed to compete for the training opportunity (see Justice Manual Title 3-4.335).
  4. Upward Mobility Program Positions: Each USAO, to the extent possible, will identify positions to be included in the Upward Mobility Program. These positions may be ones which are suitable for redesign, may be "tagged" as trainee slots, or may be new positions that will be created as the result of new allocations or employee resignations.

    In each case, a "bridge" position and a "target" position must be established. A bridge position is a transitional position that provides qualifying experience which may enable an employee to move from a dead-end position into a different occupation with greater growth potential. Usually, a bridge position is one in which a professional or administrative position has been converted to a technical level job by combining lower-level tasks from the professional occupation and higher-level tasks from the appropriate clerical or support occupation. The new position, or bridge position, becomes an interim or pre-professional job which has the related two-grade interval job as the target position.

    A target position is a position for which an Upward Mobility Program participant will qualify upon satisfactory completion of a prescribed period (usually one year) in a program of formal and on-the-job training. The grade level(s) of the target position, along with its known promotion potential, will be specified in the Upward Mobility position Merit Staffing announcement. The target position must be identified and the position description prepared prior to filling the Upward Mobility position.

  5. Filling Upward Mobility Positions: All positions filled under the Upward Mobility Program must be advertised under the Merit Staffing Plan. The area of consideration may be limited to the USAOs in the commuting area. The vacancy announcement (USA-195) will be clearly labeled, "Upward Mobility Position."

    Applicants must be Department of Justice employees who meet the criteria for program eligibility described above. In addition, applicants must meet Office of Personnel Management (OPM) qualification requirements for the bridge position. In some instances, employees may have to accept a lower grade because they do not meet the minimum qualification requirements at their current grade level. In such cases, the servicing personnel office, to the extent permitted by applicable regulations, may adjust the employees salary to maintain the present salary level.

    When ranking applicants for an Upward Mobility position, the greatest weight should be given to the supervisory appraisal of present performance and assessment of the candidates potential to assume higher-level responsibilities. To that end, each applicant's supervisor will be requested to complete an Upward Mobility Program Appraisal Form (OBD-169). No other form is to be used because the OBD-169 is designed to measure performance potential.

  6. Career Development Plan: Each employee assigned to an Upward Mobility Position must have a formal, written Career Development Plan which outlines the on-the-job experience, formal education, and/or training necessary to prepare the employee for successful performance in the target position. It is to be written within 30 days of placement in the bridge position. The plan is prepared by the supervisor (with trainee input), and is subject to the review of the servicing Personnel Management Specialist.

    Generally, most of the training involved in each Career Development Plan will be on-the-job. Formal training will be scheduled on an individualized basis to meet specialized needs. This training may be provided by the Department of Justice, OPM, or local educational institutions or vendors.

  7. Length of the Upward Mobility Program: Generally, each trainee has one calendar year from the date of placement in the bridge position to demonstrate the knowledges, skills, and abilities necessary to perform the duties of the bridge position as well as the potential to successfully perform in the target position. This period can be extended for an additional year.

    Upward mobility trainees who successfully complete the training outlined in the Career Development Plan will be assigned noncompetitively to their target positions at the end of the training period. Once in the target positions, advancement will be through noncompetitive career ladder promotions.

    Trainees who do not successfully complete the training outlined in their Career Development Plan or who in other ways do not demonstrate that they are able to perform the duties of the target position, will be returned to their most recent former positions, if they have not been filled, or to positions of the same grade as their most recent former positions.

  8. Evaluation of Trainee's Progress: Supervisors of Upward Mobility Program trainees will monitor the participants' performance and development. Written appraisals will be provided to the servicing personnel office every three months. In addition, the trainee will submit progress reports, including an appraisal of the training experience, to the servicing personnel office. The due dates of these evaluation reports will be noted on the Career Development Plan.

  9. Program Evaluation and Reports: Each office is required to submit to the Personnel Staff, Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA), by September 15 of each year, the following information:

    1. Accomplishments during the fiscal year:

      • Number of employees given formal career counseling;
      • Number of employees covered by the Upward Mobility Program who received formal basic skills training; and
      • Number of employees selected for Upward Mobility Program positions.
    2. Plans for upcoming fiscal year:

      • Number, position title, series, and grade level of the position(s) to be designated as target positions for the Upward Mobility Program.
      • Plans for providing career counseling and training to employees covered by the Upward Mobility Program.

This information will be used by the Personnel Staff, EOUSA, to prepare required reports and to assist it in its coordination role.

In addition to the report described above, offices with 100 or more employees will conduct a formal analysis of their Upward Mobility Programs as a part of their Affirmative Action Plans.

[cited in JM 3-4.720]

Updated September 19, 2018