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FAQ – Park Ranger (Interpretation) Standard Position Description

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Where can I find the new Park Ranger (I) SPDs?

The Park Ranger (I) Standard Position Description, effective beginning August 14, 2019 can be found at the NPS Position Classification website.

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What is a Standard Position Description?

A Standard Position Description (also known as a SPD) is a statement of the major duties, responsibilities, and supervisory relationships of a position that can be found in many different park units throughout the NPS. SPDs may be used to fill multiple positions throughout the NPS without submitting a request to classify a new position description, therefore expediting the hiring process. SPDs do not document every possible activity within a particular series and grade, but instead capture the major duties common to most positions assigned to that particular series and grade.

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Why are new SPDs being issued for Park Ranger (I) positions?

It is the policy of the NPS to use standard, pre-classified position descriptions to the maximum extent possible. SPDs save significant time and resources for both supervisors and Servicing Human Resources Offices (SHROs) when recruiting positions. An analysis of the types of positions being submitted for classification has indicated that parks are choosing to classify newly established positions, rather than use the current Park Ranger (I) SPDs issued in 1994. These new SPDs are being issued to:

  1. replace and abolish existing Park Ranger (I) SPDs previously classified on March 23, 1994;
  2. reduce the number of classification requests submitted for permanent Park Ranger (I) positions in the NPS;
  3. update the classification of Park Ranger (I) positions to be compliant with current Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Department of the Interior (DOI), and NPS policies, practices, and procedures;
  4. clearly define the expectations for modern-day Park Ranger (I) work in the NPS; and
  5. ensure compatibility between the duties and responsibilities of a Park Ranger (I) and the Foundations of Interpretation Competencies for the 21st Century, published in November 2017 by the Interpretive Development Program of the NPS.

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Why are these new SPDs being issued as mandatory use?

These new SPDs are being issued as mandatory use in order to ensure consistency and compatibility of assigned interpretive duties throughout the NPS. The main objectives in issuing these SPDs as mandatory use are to:

  1. reduce the time to fill vacant and/or newly established permanent positions;
  2. provide interpretive supervisors with clearly defined and well-defended competencies for Park Ranger (I) positions;
  3. provide interpretive supervisors with clearly defined differences in major duties between grade levels; and
  4. ensure equal pay for equal work at each grade level.

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What types of Park Ranger (I) positions have to use these new SPDs?

NPS organizations must use these new SPDs for all permanent nonsupervisory Park Ranger (I) positions, regardless of work schedule (e.g. full-time, career-seasonal, part-time, or intermittent). These SPDs must be applied to all competitive service and excepted service full performance (GS-09) positions, as well as GS-05 or GS-07 positions required to have a full performance level of GS-09. These newly developed SPDs are not authorized for use in the recruitment of temporary (e.g. seasonal), or term positions. The currently existing SPDs for use in filling temporary Park Ranger (I) positions may still be used until they are replaced and abolished in the future. Current DOI and NPS policies explicitly prohibit the hiring of developmental term positions, due to the nature of the work performed and the reason for a term appointment. Organizations requiring term positions must create a position description that includes a justification and submit it to the Human Resources Operations Center (HROC) for classification.

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What do I do if the duties listed in the SPDs do not exactly match my position(s)?

Standard Position Descriptions (SPDs) are broadly written, with the intent that the duties described can fit in the majority of NPS units. As long as the major duties reflect at least 80% of the work assigned to the permanent position, the SPD(s) must be used. In the rare event that the position description does not cover 80% of the work assigned, the organization is required to submit a waiver request to their respective Regional Chief, Interpretation and Education. The Regional Chief will ensure the package contains the required items and will forward the package to the NPS Associate Director, Interpretation, Education and Volunteers for approval. Once approval is obtained, the organization can submit a request to classify the position through their SHRO. The approval must be included in the submitted package for the HROC to be allowed to work the ticket.

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What do I do if my position is a supervisor or a lead?

These SPDs do not apply to supervisory or lead positions. Supervisory and lead positions are not subject to the waiver restrictions outlined above. Keep in mind that DOI policy prohibits supervisory and lead positions from being developmental (a.k.a. career ladder). Since the full performance level of the SPD career ladder is GS-09, only the GS-09 level SPD may be used in conjunction with a DI-625 to reflect supervisory (at less than 25%) or lead work. This does not preclude lower level Park Ranger (I) positions from performing supervisory or lead work; however such positions require full classification by the HROC.

If your GS-09 position performs supervisory duties more than 25% of the time, your previously established position may stay on the previously classified position description, as long as the recorded supervisor recertifies (in block 23 of the OF-8) that the position description and the codes shown on the OF-8 are still accurate. If the position has changed since the last time the position was classified, or you need to establish a new supervisory position, a request must be submitted to the HROC for classification. A DI-625 may not be used in this case.

If your GS-09 position performs supervisory duties that do not constitute 25% or more of the position’s time, your position should be moved to the GS-09 SPD in conjunction with the Standard PD Amendment (DI-625) for adding supervisory work at less than 25%.

If your GS-09 position meets the coverage requirement under Part I or Part II of the General Schedule Leader Grade Evaluation Guide to be classified as a leader, your position may stay on the previously classified position description, as long as the recorded supervisor recertifies (in block 23 of the OF-8) that the position description is still accurate, and the previous classification reflects the official titling as a Lead Park Ranger (I). If the position has changed since the last time the position was classified, or you need to establish a new leader position, a request must be submitted to the HROC for classification. A DI-625 may not be used in this case.

If your GS-09 position fails to meet the coverage requirement under Part I or Part II of the General Schedule Leader Grade Evaluation Guide to be classified as a leader, your position should be reviewed by HROC to determine if the SPDs can still apply.

If your GS-09 position performs supervisory duties that do not constitute 25% or more of the position’s time, your position should be moved to the GS-09 SPD in conjunction with the Standard PD Amendment (DI-625) for adding supervisory work at less than 25%. A new DI-625 documenting the supervisory duties must be submitted to HROC for signature. It is not appropriate to use a prior approved DI-625 in conjunction with the new SPD.

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How will mandatory use of these new SPDs be tracked?

Historically, the NPS has used an optional field (agency use code) to track the usage of SPDs. This has proven to be ineffective. As a result, these newly issued SPDs will be tracked by usage of a mandatory prefix assigned to each position number in FPPS. The complete position number will consist of:

  • 4 characters to identify the organization code assigned (e.g., 3408);
  • 2 characters to identify the position as sitting on a Standard Position Description issued by the NPS (e.g., NS);
  • 1 character to identify the position as a Park Ranger (Interpretation) (e.g. I); and
  • 4 characters to allow each park to continue to number positions in compliance with the NPS Position Numbering System (e.g. 0083).

For example, a permanent-full-time position assigned to the National Mall (organization code 3408) that was originally assigned the position number 3408-I000083 would be reassigned to position number 3408-NSI0083.

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Why are the new SPDs being issued with mandatory use position numbers?

These SPDs are being issued with mandatory use position numbers in order to better track usage and compliance in the Federal Personnel Payroll System (FPPS). Using a mandatory field (position title) instead of an optional field (agency use code) will allow better accuracy in tracking the use and effectiveness of these new SPDs throughout the service. SHRO’s must implement the NPS SPD numbering system when replacing existing PDs with the SPDs. The SPD position number is recorded in Block 1 of the OF-8 attached to each SPD. The SPD position number must be entered into FPPS, in accordance with DOI procedures, so it prints on the incumbent’s SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action.

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What is the recommended way to transition employees on to these new SPDs?

It is recognized that some currently encumbered Park Ranger (I) positions may not have some of the skill sets identified within the newly classified SPDs. To better assist these employees, it is recommended that supervisors and managers work directly with such employees to develop Individual Development Plans (IDP) that include specific trainings and mentorship opportunities to develop the missing skills. It is expected that all permanent Park Ranger (I) positions be able to perform the duties outlined in the SPDs within one year.

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How long do I have to transition my employees to these new SPDs?

Supervisors have up to 120 days from August 14, 2019, to transition their permanent positions to these new SPDs. In order to be fully compliant, supervisors should work with their SHROs to ensure that:

  1. personnel actions are processed in FPPS to move their positions to the newly described SPDs and mandatory use position numbers within the 120 day deadline;
  2. new SPDs are uploaded into the eOPFs for each affected employee;
  3. all affected employees are personally provided a copy of their new position description; and
  4. all affected employees are given an opportunity to provide feedback into the development of corresponding EPAPs and IDPs.

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Are standardized Job Analyses (JAs) and Assessment Questionnaires (AQs) going to be issued for these SPDs?

The newly established SPDs allow for supervisors to select a variety of differing collateral duties, conditions of employment, and selective factors. These inherent differences make the establishment of standardized Job Analyses and Assessment Questionnaires unpractical in many hiring situations. As a result, JAs and AQs are not being established at this time, but may be developed in the future.

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What do I do if my position’s primary function is Education rather than Interpretation?

Whether or not a position is classified to the 1700 – Education Group or as a 0025 – Park Ranger (I) depends on an analysis of the following five factors.

  1. Paramount Knowledge Required: Is the primary knowledge requirement that of interpretive or education principles, practices, techniques, methods, etc.?
  2. Reason for Existence: Is management’s intent in establishing the position to create an educational program or an interpretive program, or both?
  3. Organizational function: Is the mission or function of the organization to perform interpretive work or education work, or both?
  4. Line of Promotion: If the position were to move up in grade to a higher level position with similar programmatic responsibility, would the position likely be a Park Ranger (I) or an Educational Technician/Specialist?
  5. Recruitment Source: Are the applicants likely to qualify for the position more likely to be a Park Ranger (I), or an Education Technician/Specialist?

If the above factors support placement to an education position, your permanent position should not be assigned to the newly established SPDs. If the above factors support placement to an interpretive position, then your permanent position should be placed on the current SPDs.

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Can I request a waiver to establish a permanent full-performance-level GS-05 or GS-07 position in the Park Ranger (I) GS-0025 occupational series?

No. The career path for permanent Park Rangers was established in June of 1994 under the Ranger Careers Program policy. The Ranger Careers Program is still in effect, and this policy prohibits the establishment of permanent Park Ranger positions below the GS-09 full performance level.

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How do I know if my position is a GS-0090 Park Guide or a GS-0025 Park Ranger (I)?

There are several key differences between a position that is classified as a GS-0090 Park Guide and a position that is classified as a GS-0025 Park Ranger (I).

The GS-0090 Park Guide occupational series is used for positions whose primary purpose is to provide nonprofessional one-grade interval interpretive and guide services to visitors. GS-0090 Park Guide positions include the following job elements:

  1. giving talks that follow a prescribed outline;
  2. answering visitor questions;
  3. guiding groups of visitors along a fixed route (e.g. through a cave or a historic building); and
  4. providing miscellaneous services and information to visitors on topics such as lost and found, fee collection, first aid, weather conditions, highway routes, park and concessioner facilities, prices, etc.

In contrast, GS-0025 Park Ranger (I) are two grade interval positions that perform interpretive services at a much higher level of professional development. Even at the lowest (GS-05) grade level, GS-0025 Park Ranger (I) positions are involved in some way with park planning, interpretive program development, interpretive research, interpretive media development, visitor services monitoring and evaluation, etc.

While a GS-0025 Park Ranger (I) may be called upon to occasionally perform one-grade interval GS-0090 Park Guide work, GS-0090 Park Guides may not spend more than 25% of their time performing two-grade interval Park Ranger (I) duties.

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How can I add my questions to this FAQ?

If you have questions about the implementation of the Park Ranger (I) SPDs, you may leave them in the “Write a Review” section below. This page will be monitored and updated periodically with answers as new questions arise.

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Write a Review

  1. The main body of the SPD includes Interpretive Media, Public Affairs, Social Media and Website work….yet these are also on the checklist. Why is that?

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