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1434Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 5 / Friday, January 8, 1999 / Notices

or position under review.  Personnel specialists will provide on-going consultation and guidance to managers and supervisors throughout the classification process.

(2) Classification Appeals

Comments:  One commentor suggested setting time frames to process classification appeals.  Several said the accuracy of PRDs should be appealable.

Response: The project does not change existing time frames for classification appeals.  As under the current system, employees may not appeal the accuracy of a PRD, but instead may raise the issue under an applicable grievance procedure.

G.

Reduction-in-Force (RIF)

The 38 comments about this initiative centered on four items.

(1) Definition of Competitive Area

Comments: Eighteen commentors wanted the same competitive area to cover project and non-project employees.

Response: Project developers seriously reconsidered the matter of competitive areas, and two mock RIFs were subsequently run.  This exercise compared a scenario with an entire workforce in the same competitive area against a second scenario with separate competitive areas for project and non-project employees.  The overall difference in outcome between the two mock RIFs was negligible.  However, the demonstration and the standard title 5 personnel systems are very different with respect to their classification, compensation, and performance management/contribution programs.  The same-area scenario proved inadequate to accommodate those differences when employees were moved via RIF between the two systems.  Additionally, project developers sought input from other demonstration projects, DoD, and OPM.  All of these supported the separate-areas concept.  Accordingly, the project plan was amended to specify that employees under this demonstration shall be placed in a different competitive area from those who are not covered.

(2) Retention Rights

Comments: Other commentors said the project should not diminish retention of employees.

Response: The project’s procedures are not intended to diminish retention.  Under the current system, employees may only retreat to positions they have previously held.  The project eliminates this restriction.  If qualified for the position in question, a project employee may displace any other project employee with a lower retention standing.

(3) DoD Downsizing; Base Re-alignment and Closure (BRAC)

Comments: Five commentors raised the issue of conducting a demonstration in times of downsizing and BRAC.

Response: The project has no influence over downsizing or BRAC determinations.  However, it does represent a valuable opportunity to enhance the quality, professionalism, and management of the DoD acquisition workforce through an improved human resources management system.  The FY 96 and 98 National Defense Authorization Acts encouraged DoD to conduct this demonstration and established a 1999 time frame to commence implementation.

(4) Years of Retention Service Credit

Comments:  Several commentors noted that the years of retention service credit in Table 7 were not consistent with OCS scores in the “inappropriately compensated-below the rails” (B) region.

Response:  Table 7 was constructed in relation to the OCS normal range.  Generally, employees whose OCSs fall within or above the top third of the OCS normal range for their career path and

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