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FHWA Personnel Management Manual; Part 1: Personnel Systems & Procedures, Chapter 3: Assignment and Utilization of Employees, Section 7: Technical Career Tracks (TCT) Program
Classification Code Date
M3000.1C January 6, 2005  


  1. What is the purpose of this section?
  2. Does this directive cancel an existing FHWA directive?
  3. What is the FHWA policy with regard to the TCT Program?
  4. Which disciplines and technical positions are covered by the TCT Program?
  5. How are TCT positions filled?


  1. What is the purpose of this section? This section revises the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Technical Career Tracks (TCT) Program. Technical career tracks require specific high-level technical and professional competencies that are at, and usually above, the full performance level of positions in technical disciplines.

  2. Does this directive cancel an existing FHWA directive? Yes. This directive cancels FHWA Personnel Management Manual (PMM) Part 1, Chapter 3, Section 7 (Technical Career Tracks Program), dated November 16, 2000.

  3. What is the FHWA policy with regard to the TCT Program? The FHWA policy with regard to the TCT Program is to establish technical career tracks at the grade 13, 14, and 15 levels for certain disciplines where the development of a high level of technical or specialized program expertise is critical for the accomplishment of the FHWA's mission. The purpose of these technical career tracks is to focus efforts on developing needed technical expertise and to support improved career advancement opportunities within the technical disciplines. Nothing in this policy supersedes management's right and responsibility to determine the assignment of duties and who is promoted. The Resource Center and the Office of Research, Development, and Technology (HRT-1) primarily provide technical expertise in the FHWA. The TCT Program mainly serves positions in these organizations and only selectively in Division Offices, Federal Lands Highway Division Offices, andotherWashington Headquarters organizations. All positions in the technical career tracks will be properly classified in accordance with the Office of Personnel Management's classification standards.

  4. Which disciplines and technical positions are covered by the TCT Program?

    1. Disciplines covered by the TCT Program. Technical career tracks are established in certain disciplines identified as providing critical technical and program expertise as well as other disciplines identified by top FHWA leadership. These disciplines are: Air Quality, Civil Rights, Environment, Finance, Geometric Design, Geotechnical, Hydraulics, Intelligent Transportation System/Transportation Management, Logistics, Materials, Pavements, Planning, Right-of-Way, Safety, and Structures. Other disciplines may be added or deleted at the discretion of the Leadership Team. The Directors of Field Services, the appropriate Associate Administrator(s), and, where applicable, the Associate Administrator for Research, Development, and Technology (in conjunction with these other officials when the positions are similar to R, D, & T positions) make the recommendation to the full Leadership Team on adding or deleting a technical discipline.

    2. Technical positions covered by the TCT Program

      1. (1) Technical career tracks include, as appropriate, technical specialist positions at grades 13 through 15 in covered disciplines in the Resource Center, Division Offices, Federal Lands Highway Division Offices, and Washington Headquarters Offices (including HRT-1). Advancement in the technical career track to the General Schedule (GS)-14 or above level by a Division Office employee is expected to be a rare occurrence unless the employee is currently functioning as a national expert (routinely providing expert technical assistance to other offices outside his or her State) in the particular functional area.

      2. (2) Supervisory and Team Leader positions which require that the incumbent individually provide critical technical and program expertise, equivalent to that of a technical specialist in a discipline, are included in the TCT program. Candidates occupying these types of positions who are applying for TCT positions will be evaluated on their technical activities and accomplishments, not on their management activities.

  5. How are TCT positions filled?

    1. Filling vacancies. Vacancies within the technical career tracks may be filled by a variety of methods including reassignment, through the use of a Delegated Examining Unit, and by use of the FHWA Merit Promotion Plan outlined in PMM Chapter 3, Section 1. The method used is dependent upon the availability of qualified candidates within the FHWA and/or the need to employ an individual with the needed skills (not otherwise available within the FHWA) in order to perform effectively in the vacant position. TCT Program positions may be advertised with known promotion potential. If a candidate is selected to fill the position at a lower grade level, the employee may be promoted to the higher grade level(s) without further competition. Selecting officials are encouraged to use senior technical specialists to evaluate the qualifications of candidates for positions in the discipline. Specialists who perform these reviews must be at least the same grade level as, and preferably a higher grade than, the highest grade level of the position(s) being filled.

    2. Opportunity for promotion. Within the technical track, there is no guarantee of promotion (except for specific positions that are filled on a known promotion potential basis), but there is a commitment to the opportunity for employees to develop professionally to the extent permitted by available resources and the mission requirements of the organization. Establishment of these positions in the Resource Center implies management support for these positions operating at the national or international level. It is expected to be very difficult and challenging to achieve those levels. In accordance with overall staffing patterns of the FHWA and in a given discipline, opportunities exist at the higher levels, but they are dependent upon both organizational and external circumstances making work assignments at those levels possible, and upon the individual initiative and self-development of the employee.

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