The release of NED v.5.2, in the first quarter of 2020 required the NIH administrative community to begin using the Position Designation Tool (PDT) for determining the appropriate background investigation required for a position and recording the results in NED. The PDT assesses the duties and responsibilities of a position to determine the degree of potential damage to the efficiency or integrity of the service from misconduct of an incumbent of a position.
The Need to Accurately Enter Data into the PDT
Recently DPSAC has seen an increase in positions being categorized and entered into NED with an incorrect Tier. As a result DPSAC must contact the administrative officers for correction resulting in delays in badge issuance and background investigations.
DPSAC wants to remind PDT users that parts 1400 and 731 of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations establishes the risk level of a given position. This assessment also determines if a position’s duties and responsibilities present the potential for position incumbents to bring about a material adverse effect on the national security, and the degree of that potential effect, which establishes the sensitivity level of a position. The results of this assessment determine what level of investigation should be conducted for a position. As an AO, if you are unsure what risk factors listed in the PDT apply to a given position, DPSAC recommends contacting the supervisor, Project Officer or any other person who will oversee the position. This person should be able to provide additional guidance on which factors are relevant.
Proper position designation is the foundation of an effective and consistent suitability and personnel security program. The PDT determines, through the evaluation of national security and suitability requirements, what type of investigation is required and the depth that an individual is screened for a position.
Available PDT Resources
DPSAC wants to remind PDT users that they have a number of resources available to them to help guide them through the PDT process. One very helpful resource resides on the DPSAC website at https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/ser/dpsac/resources/Pages/investigation-requirements-for-your-position.aspx . This easy-to-follow tutorial on the Position Designation Tool begins with a definition of the Tool, followed by sections on regulatory guidance, where to get additional help with PDT, understanding the PDT’s underlying logic, who is responsible for completing the PDT, and a description of the four step process to complete the PDT.
This publication describes the four-step process that will guide the designator through an examination of the position’s duties and responsibilities. The completion of this process will result in a final designation for the position which, in turn, will determine the investigative requirements for the position in question. OPM has added a glossary to the document that readers should find particularly helpful.
5-Part DPSAC News series
In January 2020, DPSAC News ran a five-part series on the PDT to help the administrative staff and DPSAC News subscribers understand how this updated tool works. The series provides an excellent overview of the Position Designation Tool and carefully describes how to properly use and upload the PDT into NED when entering a new person into the system or updating the position information section for existing NED records.
Below is a summary of each of the 5 series parts and links to the DPSAC News issue in which it appeared.
Part II, Step 1, January 15, 2020 DPSAC News showed readers how to use the tool to determine whether the position being evaluated had any national security duties associated with it.
In this final installment of the series, February 26, 2020 DPSAC News (Part V, Step 4), DPSAC News described how the Position Designation Tool calculates the required background investigation for the evaluated position. Step 4 also spells out the required tasks the administrator must complete in order to successfully conclude the process.
Position Designation Completion [STEP 4]
Upon completing Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the PDT, the tool will indicate the required background investigation for the evaluated position (see Figure 1 below). In addition, the tool provides the ability to download a PDF copy of the completed output.
This PDF file must be uploaded to the NIH Enterprise Directory (NED) when entering a new person into the system or updating the position information section for existing NED records. The PDF copy of the PDT will then be transmitted to DPSAC to ensure the correct background is initiated for the position.