NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE (NWS)

UNIVERSITY ASSIGNMENT PROGRAM/ADVANCED STUDIES PROGRAM

FALL 2001 THROUGH SPRING 2002

LOCATION: Selected Universities/Colleges

DESCRIPTION:

This program offers opportunities for both full-time and part-time training assignments in job- or career-related study at an educational facility. It enables employees to keep abreast of advances in science and technology and other innovations within their occupational fields. In addition, the program provides an opportunity for all employees to learn new skills or develop and improve abilities needed in current or future positions. It should be used only when:

1. the needed set of knowledges or skills requires a comprehensive study program which could not be accomplished by a series of unconnected short-term courses;

2. the time span for the acquisition of the knowledges or skills is such that a concentrated or long-term program is most feasible; and

3. the set of knowledges or skills is so complex, so new, or so unique it could not be readily obtained on a short-term basis.

The full-time program option usually provides training for a period of 1 academic year (2 semesters) in a non-Government facility, generally a college or university. Although the term system may vary--semester, trimester, or quarter--all courses must be completed by the date specified on the study proposal for training, and employees must take at least the minimum course load requirement for full-time students as determined by the educational institution.

In 20/20 assignments, this option may provide training for 2 academic years of study on a schedule that provides for 20 hours per week devoted to course attendance/study assignments while continuing to perform work duties for the remaining 20 hours per week. Employees must take the maximum course load permitted without being considered a full-time student under the regulations of the selected college/university.

In "less than 20/20" assignments, this option may provide training for 2 or more academic years of study. As in the 20/20 option, the work/study schedule will consist of a ratio of hours to be worked versus hours in class and study, i.e., 24/16 (24 hours of work and 16 hours of classes), 32/8 (32 hours of work and 8 hours of classes), etc. Factors to consider in establishing work/study ratios for less than 20/20 assignments are: (1) service programs and office work load, (2) staffing profiles, (3) number of hours required in actual class attendance, (4) unusual study time demands, or (5) unusual travel time required.

Employees selected for university training assignments remain in their positions of record while in training status.

COSTS:

An employee's salary continues during the assignment. NWS Headquarters (WSH) is responsible for tuition, fees, books, and supplies. While all of the latter costs may be provided at Government expense subject to NOAA policies, NWS management may elect to support only a portion thereof provided any decision to prorate costs is documented as a part of the review and approval process.

POLICY

Federal regulations prohibit the following:

1. The selection and assignment of an employee for training or the payment or reimbursement of the costs of training (a) to obtain an academic degree in order to qualify for appointment to a particular position or (b) for the sole purpose of providing an opportunity to an employee to obtain one or more academic degrees; and

2. The selection of educational facilities that discriminate in the admission or treatment of students.

Federal regulation requires an employee selected for full-time training assignments, to agree in writing, to serve in the agency three times the length of the training period.

JUSTIFICATION:

The justification for any proposed long-term training should consider NWS program needs as well as individual employee training needs as they relate to NOAA and NWS program objectives. The benefits to both must be clearly stated. The selection of a training institution must be justified also in terms of its ability to meet the training needs effectively and economically. Only applications which clearly meet these criteria will be approved.

EMPHASIS AREAS:

For fiscal year 2001, the special emphasis areas are:

(1) advanced studies in scientific specialties and new technology,

(2) careers which span or combine two career specialties (i.e, hydrology and meteorology, meteorology and computer science),

(3) management development, and

(4) conversion of hydrometeorological technicians.

Employees seeking part-time assignments directed toward acquiring academic requirements for the meteorologist series should have completed mathematics through "precalculus" or analytic geometry and be ready to start calculus and physics. Those seeking full-time assignments should have completed mathematics through calculus and a year (2 semesters) of college physics. Exceptions will be considered; however, appropriate justification should be provided in such cases.

Scientific and technological advances require NWS employees (meteorologists, hydrologists, computer specialists, and other professionals) to maintain currency in mesoscale meteorology, marine weather, oceanography, hydrology, advanced numerical prediction, computer science, and other job-related disciplines. In addition to these specialties, applicants should consider studies which encompass the planned use of new technology and which span or combine two career specialties, i.e., hydrology and meteorology, hydrometeorology, computer systems oriented electronics technicians, etc.

Effective and efficient use of resources is an integral part of Weather Service management. The NWS encourages, meteorologists in charge, warning coordination meteorologists, hydrologists in charge, development and operations hydrologist to broaden their communicative, interpersonal, and managerial skills by enrolling in management courses at local universities and colleges. Participants in this management development emphasis area will be limited to less than full-time.

SELECTION CRITERIA:

The selection of employees to receive long-term training assignments will be based on the following factors:

1. The relevancy of the training to current and projected assignments in terms of organizational requirements;

2. The relevancy of the training to identified individual developmental needs;

3. Evidence of the candidate's ability and desire to undertake and complete successfully a comprehensive long-term training program;

4. The candidate's commitment to the NWS, NOAA, and the Federal service;

5. Evidence of the candidates ability to undertake and complete successfully college courses on his or her own time;

6. Basic merit principles providing equal opportunity to all eligible employees; and

7. A complete application package.

REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCEDURES:

Nominations must be forwarded through local management channels, and NWS regional headquarters before being sent to WSH. Supervisors and managers shall attach to the application, or include in a cover memorandum, endorsements recommending approval, denial, modification, postponement, or other actions. In addition, it is imperative that regional and WSH office directors rank their applicants. Because we have combined the advanced studies call with the regular call, those applying for the full-time advanced studies must be ranked separately from those applying for the regular university assignment program.

To streamline the UAP process, the review will be conducted by the National Strategic Training and Education Plan (NSTEP) team consisting of representatives from the National Headquarters Group (NHG) and Field Requirements Group (FRG). The Training Division in Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services will coordinate a conference call to review and approve UAP applications, the Management and Organization Division UAP focal point will also attend.

This process should be quicker and allow a closer link to the proposed overall training plans for FY 2001. Some of the UAP applicants' needs may be addressed by courses already planned for development within the NWS.

The results of the review will be forwarded to John Jones for final approval.

SCHEDULE:

All study proposals and associated application materials must be received at the following locations by the dates established below:

Region/Office Headquarters February 23, 2001
National Weather Service Headquarters March 12, 2001

DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS:

All nominations must include a complete University Assignment Study Proposal. The proposal must include the following attachments: Use plain sheets of paper with appropriate headings. (Identify employee, university/college, and training option in the upper right corner of Attachments 1, 2, and 3). Also, complete Attachment 4 (the Application Summary Sheet).

Attachment 1: Justifications

a. Brief description of employee's duties relevant to the training being requested. In most cases, the description should be general and no more than two paragraphs.

b. Justification for use of long-term training (the completion of degree requirements is not a goal of nor justification for the training assignment). Attach copies of transcripts or provide a list of college level courses which have been completed. Grades are required.

c. Justification for the selection of the particular university/college.

d. Description(s) of proposed coursework. Also, list and describe alternate course(s) (in the event the primary coursework is not being offered).

e. Objective of training--a post-training utilization plan including a description of skills and knowledges to be acquired through this long-term training and how they are related or will be applied to current or projected duties. (Please do not attach position descriptions.)

Attachment 2: Projected Course of Study

a. For multi-year study plans, if the applicant will seek financial support to study beyond one fiscal year, the application should include a plan for subsequent periods of study. The multi-year plan should consist of primary and alternate courses for each of the follow-on terms. Copies of the University Assignment Study Proposal may be used.

Attachment 3: The Supervisor

The role of the supervisor is important in ensuring the success of any training assignment. In addition to the continuation of normal administrative support activities, the supervisor is responsible for an on-going evaluation of both the employee's progress and the value of the training assignment. The supervisor is also responsible for assisting in the coordination of any recommended changes to the original training plan with regional headquarters and WSH. Please note as long as an individual is in a position covered by one of NOAA's performance appraisal systems, any long-term training must be made a part of his or her performance plan.

a. Description of the system or procedure the supervisor proposes for maintaining contact and monitoring the progress of the employee's training assignment.

b. Supervisor's name, title, office address, and telephone number.

c. A signed statement by the supervisor that the applicant has been counseled, all application materials have been reviewed with the applicant and are consistent and complete as specified by the requirements of this announcement, the assignment is included in the individual's performance plan, and the requested work/study ratio is appropriate. By signing this statement, the supervisor is stating the above actions have been completed.