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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service



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Quick Reference Guide


Chapter 8
Research Position Evaluation System (RPES)

The Research Position Evaluation System (RPES) is the ARS system used for evaluation and position classification of permanent research scientist (Category 1) positions. The RPES is based on the person-in-the-job concept, providing open-ended promotion potential based on a research scientist's personal contributions to science and technology (and resultant stature and recognition), which can change the complexity and responsibility of their position.

The standardized case writeup format required by Manual 431.3-ARS is an important feature in assuring consistent and equitable evaluation throughout ARS.

Panelists must have information in sufficient detail to make fair and equitable classification decisions. Information on individual positions and incumbents will be submitted according to the attached checklist which is compatible with the format of the Research Grade-Evaluation Guide (RGEG).                                                                       

Case material will be reviewed for adherence to format. Inaccurate, incomplete, or improperly prepared, or otherwise noncompliant, writeups cannot be accepted and will be returned for revision.


See Chapter 2 for a comprehensive list of commonly used acronyms.


Cross References: Chapter 8 - Human Resources

Web Site:

  • RPES Home Page:, especially Online Presentations and RPES Brochures Online  *NOTE: The RPES Home Page takes you to the most recent Issuance of 431.3-ARS.

Points of Contact:

For info on format, due dates, etc.

Barbra McGraw
Program Support Assistant
2150 Centre Avenue, Building D, Suite 300
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8119
Telephone: (970) 492-7312
Fax: (970) 492-7065

For info on content

Michael McGuire
Associate Area Director
Natural Resources Research Center
2150 Centre Avenue, Building D, Suite 300
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8119
Telephone: (970) 492-7058
Fax: (970) 492-7065

John McMurtry
Assistant Area Director
1001 Hollemann Drive
College Station, TX  77840
Telephone: (979) 260-9346


Merle Cole
Head, Research Position Evaluation Staff
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
Beltsville, MD 20705-5107
Telephone: (301) 504-1563
Fax: (301) 504-1586

Primary RPE Staff contact

Pat Humphrey
Human Resources Assistant
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
Beltsville, MD 20705-5107
Telephone: (301) 504-1565
Fax: (301) 504-1586

Subjects Contained in Policies and Procedures 431.3-ARS

This policy and procedure establishes policy for the ARS RPES. It contains abbreviations and cross-references in the Glossary, followed by exhibits on Peer Groups, Filling Vacant Research Positions, and Panel Decision Options. This revision incorporates policy decisions made and announced since the 2006 version was published.

In addition to the usual explanations for authority, forms, definitions, coverage, and purpose, the other important topics that are covered are:

  • Panel Administration
  • Panel Review Requirements
  • Panel Composition
  • Confidentiality Requirement
  • Panel Decision Options
  • Preparation and Submission of Evaluation materials
  • Supergrade Evaluation Panels
  • Panel Review Records
  • Summary of Responsibilities  

Material Contained in Manual 431-3-ARS

This manual provides detailed guidance for (1) preparing case writeups for panel review, and (2) determining the grade level of positions covered by the ARS RPES. This revision incorporates policy decisions made and announced since the 2006 version was published.

In Part I (Case Writeup Preparation), along with the introduction, references, and general guidance, detailed information is provided on the format outline, preparation of case writeups, and a submission checklist.

In Part II (Evaluation Guidance), information is provided on:

  • Panel Operating Procedures
  • Ad Hoc Panels
  • Conducting an Indepth Review
  • RGEG and Additional Evaluation Guidance
  • Additional Evaluation Guidance
  • Glossary


Plains Area RPES Submission Procedure:

Initial Draft - Submit via e-mail to Barbra McGraw.

ü Draft case write-up, along with the ARS-570, in Microsoft Word format.

ü The ARS-514, AD-332 and all exhibits should be in PDF format.

ü Please note that if attachments are more than 50mb, they should be sent in two separate e-mails.

After your case has been reviewed by the Area Office it will be returned to you via e-mail with electronic comments on content and format.  Please revise accordingly.


Final Version - Submit via e-mail to Barbra McGraw.

ü Your final case write-up and ARS-570 as applicable, in Microsoft Word format.

ü If there were any changes to your exhibits, please resubmit ALL in PDF format.

The Area Office will review the final draft, create the PDF and submit to the RPES Staff.  If there are additional suggestions, an Associate Area Director may be in contact with the scientist directly.

Last Modified: 5/1/2015
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