Job Terminology Glossary

Name (Sorted descending) Term Description

(See also “Eligible”). An applicant who meets the minimum qualifications requirements for a position, and is therefore eligible for consideration. (DEO Handbook Glossary).

Career Appointment/Employee

The employment status of a permanent employee who has completed three years of total creditable service and must begin with a non-temporary (Permanent - Career-Conditional Appointment), or other type of employment as provided in 5 CFR 315.201(b)(1). A person employed in the competitive service for other than temporary, term, or indefinite employment is appointed as a career or career-conditional employee subject to the probationary period required. (OPM Hiring Information and 5 CFR 315.201)

Career Conditional Appointment

Appointment to a non-temporary position in the competitive service pursuant to 5 CFR Part 315. Non-temporary (Permanent) employees are generally hired under a career-conditional appointment (Permanent - Career-Conditional Appointment). Normally this is the first career-type of appointment and the appointee must complete a one year probationary period and a total of three years creditable service to attain a career appointment (Permanent - Career Appointment). (OPM Hiring Information and 5 CFR Part 315)

Career Ladder

The range of grades in an occupational series or specialization starting with the lowest level at which an employee can be hired, up to and including the full performance level of the position. There must be enough work classifiable at the highest grade so that there is a reasonable expectation that all employees in the given organization and occupational series or specialization can progress to that grade. Promotion to higher grade levels within the career ladder is not guaranteed once minimum qualifications are attained. Promotions are dependent upon the employee’s performance rating being at least fully successful, his/her ability to perform the duties at a higher level, the continuing need for the employee to be assigned to the higher level, and supervisory approval. (NIH Policy Manual – NIH Merit Promotion Plan)

Career Tenure

After serving three years of total creditable service, a career conditional employee becomes a career employee and gains career tenure. Employees with career tenure have permanent reinstatement eligibility and may be considered for positions without having to take another competitive civil service examination. Total creditable service means service in a non-temporary (Permanent - Career-Conditional Appointment), or other type of employment as provided in 5 CFR 315.201(b)(1).

Career Transitional Assistance Program (CTAP)

A program that requires agencies to give selection priority to their own well-qualified surplus employees who apply for vacancies in agency components in the local commuting area. Agencies must notify their surplus or displaced employees when they plan to fill these jobs. With a few exceptions, the agency must select those who apply and are eligible and well qualified before any other candidate from within or outside the agency. (OPM Employee's Guide to Career Transition p. (3-4) and 5 CFR 330.601)

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)

A defined benefit, contributory retirement system. This retirement system was replaced by FERS in 1987. (OPM CSRS Information and 5 USC 8348


A system that classifies positions according to the work, consisting of the duties and responsibilities, assignable to an employee. “Class” or “class of positions” includes all positions which are sufficiently similar, as to the kind or subject-matter of work; level of difficulty and responsibility; and the qualification requirements of the work. And “grade,” includes all classes of positions which, although different with respect to kind or subject-matter of work, are sufficiently equivalent as to warrant their inclusion within one range of rates of basic pay in the General Schedule. Classification can be used in all phases of personnel administration. (5 USC 5101 and 5102)

Classification Standard

Position classification standards provide information used in determining the occupational series and title for positions performing white collar work in the Federal Government. They also provide grading criteria for positions classified under the General Schedule (GS) Classification System. They define the various classes of positions in terms of duties, responsibilities, and qualification requirements; establish the official class titles; and set forth the grades in which the classes have been placed by the Office. (OPM Classification & Qualifications and 5 USC 5105)

Clinical Fellow

A doctoral-level health professional with interest in biomedical research relevant to NIH program needs, who is employed on a time-limited appointment renewable subject to the five-year/eight-year rule. Clinical Fellows participate in protocol-based clinical research as well as laboratory research. (NIH OIR)

Collective Bargaining/Negotiating

The performance of the mutual obligation of the representative of an agency and the exclusive representative of employees in an appropriate unit in the agency to meet at reasonable times and to consult and bargain in a good-faith effort to reach agreement with respect to the conditions of employment affecting such employees and to execute, if requested by either party, a written document incorporating any collective bargaining agreement reached, but the obligation referred to in this paragraph does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or to make a concession. (5 USC 7103)


The regular pay an employee receives on a biweekly basis is typically referred to as basic pay. When other forms of occasional pay are considered such as awards and recruitment, retention or relocation incentives, along with basic pay, this is typically referred to as an employee’s total compensation. (OPM Pay & Leave)

Competitive Appointment

All civil service positions in the executive branch of the Federal Government with some exceptions. The exceptions are defined in section 2102 of title 5, United States Code (5 USC 2102). (OPM Hiring Information)

Competitive Examining

The competitive examination, which is open to all applicants, may consist of a written test, an evaluation of an applicant's education and experience, and/or an evaluation of other attributes necessary for successful performance in the position to be filled. It is the process used to fill civil service positions with candidates who apply from outside the Federal workforce. It is also used to enable current Federal employees without civil service status to compete for a permanent appointment and to enable employees with civil service status to compete for other Federal positions. (OPM Hiring Information and 5 CFR 332.101)

Competitive Status

Basic eligibility for noncompetitive assignment to a competitive position. A person on a career or career-conditional appointment acquires competitive status upon satisfactory completion of a probationary period. It may also be granted by statute, Executive order, or the civil service rules without competitive examination. A person with competitive status may be promoted, transferred, reassigned, reinstated, or demoted without taking an open competitive examination, subject to the conditions prescribed by the Civil Service rules and regulations. (OPM GPPA Ch 35 p (35-3))

Compressed Work Schedule

A fixed work schedule that enables a full-time employee to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays. (OPM Pay & LeaveNIH Work Schedules, and 5 USC 6127)

Creditable Service for Annual Leave Accrual (CSAL)

Credit provided for service that otherwise would not be creditable under 5 U.S.C. 6303(a) for the purpose of determining the annual leave accrual rate of an individual receiving his or her first appointment (regardless of tenure) as a civilian employee of the Federal Government or an employee who is reappointed following a break in service of at least 90 calendar days after his or her last period of civilian Federal employment. The head of an agency or his or her designee may, at his or her sole discretion, approve CSAL requests. CSAL requests must be documented and approved prior to the employee’s entrance on duty (EOD) date. (5 USC 6303 and 5 CFR 630.205)