Federal Job Classification

Comparison of Job Content With Grades Assigned in Selected Occupations Gao ID: GGD-96-20 November 6, 1995

Over the years, many studies have suggested that women and minorities are paid less than men and nonminorities who work comparable jobs. These observations have raised questions about whether the federal government's classification systems result in lower grades being assigned to jobs in occupations with large number of females or minorities. GAO examined the relationship between job content and grades assigned using the Fact Evaluation System and found differences in the grading of positions in occupations with high representations of women or minorities. The National Performance Review and other studies suggest that classification systems should be abandoned in favor or more flexible, broad-banded systems. GAO suggest that policymakers closely monitor any new systems to ensure that (1) unintended disparities are identified and corrected and (2) the national policy underlying the existing classification system--that jobs be classified so that pay is equal for substantially equal work--is being satisfactorily achieved.

GAO found that: (1) the difference between actual GS grades and the grades based on job content under FES was directly related to female and minority representation in nonsupervisory positions reviewed; (2) the likelihood of a position being overgraded increased as the incumbents' GS grades increased, but there was no correlation between undergrading and GS grades; (3) occupations with high female representation were more likely to be undergraded than those occupations with medium or low female representation; (4) occupations with high minority representation were more likely to be overgraded than those occupations with medium or low minority representation; (5) classification experts believed that FES did not place sufficient value on the physical demands and working conditions of certain specialist occupations with high minority representation, which caused them to be overgraded on a strict FES basis; (6) private sector wage levels may have resulted in overgraded positions in computer-related occupations; (7) the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) needs to monitor its development of a new federal job classification system to ensure that disparities are identified and addressed; and (8) OPM has established a new oversight office which will conduct a governmentwide classification study.

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