Desk Audit Appeals for GS and FWS Employees

Desk Audit Process for General Schedule (GS) Employees 

Usually, the first step in pursuing a desk audit is to speak with the individual’s supervisor to discuss the issue of whether their position is properly classified. It is important to stress the major areas of daily work and how these duties fit into the overall agency’s structure. The federal employee will want to review their position classification standards prior to this discussion. If a federal employee’s supervisor believes that the individual’s position should be possibly re-classified, they can contact the federal agency’s human resources office to request a desk audit.  The federal employee can also try contacting human resources directly if the supervisor is not receptive to the request.

The Agency must, in theory, make a decision on the desk audit request within 60 days. If an appeal to the agency does not result in a favorable decision, the employee can submit an appeal to the OPM Classification Appeals office. A GS employee can bypass the Agency and go to OPM directly from the beginning, but It’s a good idea to appeal to the agency first. That way, if the employee doesn’t get the desired result, the employee can still appeal to the OPM. If the employee goes directly to the OPM and is unsuccessful, there is no option to then go back to the Agency, the employee will have exhausted the appeals process. A GS employee is not permitted to pursue appeals with both the Agency and OPM at the same time. 

Desk Audit Process for Federal Wage System (FWS) Employees 

The process for FWS employees is generally the same as that for GS employees, but an FWS employee must first appeal to the agency. Unlike a GS employee, an FWS employee cannot appeal directly to OPM from the outset. If an FWS employee is dissatisfied with the agency’s decision, the employee may appeal to OPM. The appeal with OPM must usually be filed within 15 calendar days of the date the employee receives the agency’s decision. Each appeal is different, but it is very important that an FWS employee keep track of their deadlines and file their appeal to OPM on time.

Desk Audit Appeal Process at OPM

In terms of filing an appeal with OPM, for both GS and FWS employees, each appeal must be in writing, should be sufficiently detailed, include a copy of the position description, and be filed with the OPM office serving the area in which the federal employee works. The specific requirements for an appeal with OPM usually include the following:

·       The employee’s name, mailing address, email address, and commercial office telephone number;

·       The present classification of the employee’s position and the requested classification;

·       The name of the department or agency and the office in which the employee works;

·       The name, mailing and email address of the servicing Human Resources office having classification authority over the appealed position;

·       The city where the employee is employed and the installation’s mailing address;

·       A copy of the official position description and either a statement affirming that it is accurate or a detailed explanation of the inaccuracies and an explanation of the efforts made to correct the position description;

·       Any additional information about the position that will aid in understanding it; and

·       Arguments supporting the requested classification by referencing the appropriate classification standards.

Once the appeal is filed, OPM will gather information from both the employee’s written appeal, described above and the Agency. If additional information is needed, OPM may reach out to the employee via correspondence, telephone call, or an on-site visit. OPM does not conduct hearings to decide desk audit appeals.

In evaluating the merits of an employee’s desk audit appeal, OPM will base the decision on the work assigned to the position, the qualifications required to perform that work, and the proper application of the classification standards. OPM does not compare the employee’s position to that of others and does not consider any qualifications that the employee may have that do not relate to the position, the employee’s quality of performance, or the volume of work. 

Once OPM makes a decision, both the employee and the agency will be informed in writing. OPM’s decision regarding a desk audit is generally final and binding on the agency and all administrative, certifying, payroll, disbursing, and accounting officials in the Government. It is important to keep in mind that even if OPM reclassifies the position, the decision might not necessarily be favorable to the employee. OPM may raise or lower the grade of a position as the facts warrant, even if that should lead to a result unexpected or unwanted by the employee. 

There is no automatic right to a review of OPM’s appeal decision. However, occasionally a review may be justified. In that case, OPM, at its discretion, may reconsider the decision. Reconsideration may be granted when either the employee or the Agency submits written evidence or arguments that establish a reasonable doubt as to the technical accuracy of the decision, or presents new, relevant, and substantive information that was not considered in the original decision. To establish a reasonable doubt, an employee must refer specifically to the decision and to the applicable classification standard to demonstrate possible error in the technical evaluation of the position. The deadline for submitting a request for reconsideration ca be 45 calendar days after the date of the decision.


If you are a federal employee in need of employment law representation in desk audits, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook and Twitter.