HR: SAO Senior Level Promotion Review Committee for Engineers (SL-PRCE)
 CHARTER - February 2003

I. Purpose of SL-PRCE

The purpose of the SL-PRCE is to provide a collegial forum for the (1) discussion and assessment of individual professional engineering accomplishments, to determine whether or not such accomplishments meet the classification standards for engineering positions at the senior level, and (2) systematic collection and transmittal of such information to the SAO Director.

The SL-PRCE evaluation does not take the place of the annual performance review required for all Smithsonian employees.

II. Committee Membership

The voting members of the Committee will consist of six senior scientists and engineers, all of whom must have extensive knowledge of the developmental engineering work performed at SAO. The SAO Director will appoint the Committee members with the advice of the Associate Directors. The appointments will be for two-year terms, renewable at the Director's discretion and with the member's agreement.

The Manager of the Human Resources (HR) Department will serve on the Committee as a permanent non-voting member to provide advice on personnel-related concerns and processes.

III. Committee Chairperson/Responsibilities/Tenure

The Chairperson will be appointed by the Director and will also serve for a two-year term renewable as described above.

The Chairperson is responsible for convening the Committee for meetings and for assuring that Committee members have all necessary materials prior to meetings and that SL-PRCE evaluation packages sent to the Director for review/action are complete.

Because all SL-PRCE deliberations, discussions, and reports are confidential to comply with legal requirements on employee privacy, it will be the responsibility of the Chairperson to collect all copies of materials considered by the Committee and the responsibility of the Committee members to not make additional copies of the materials. One copy will be submitted with the report to the Director and forwarded by the Director to the HR Manager for the record; other copies will be destroyed under the direction of the Chairperson.

IV. Frequency of Meetings/Coverage/Committee Responsibilities

The Committee will review separately each request for promotion of a Federal or Trust Fund engineer into the senior level. The review will include consideration of the significant accomplishments and achievements of the reviewee, as well as at least three and preferably five "external" letters of reference, requested by the Chairperson (see below).

The Committee will analyze the professional standing and level of accomplishment of each reviewee using the Developmental Grade Evaluation Guide as a reference. The Committee will submit its findings to the Director in writing and will include a brief narrative summary of the professional accomplishments and standing of each engineer reviewed, and a determination as to whether the engineer is performing at, above, or below the grade 15 level. If the Committee conclusion on any reviewee is not unanimous, the report will contain both majority and minority opinions for such reviewees. The Director will make the final decision/recommendation as to the promotion of the engineer.

V. Individual Reviewee's Responsibility/Rights

To make a fair evaluation of an engineer, the SL-PRCE needs to have the most up-to-date information on the accomplishments of the individual being reviewed. When notified of their promotion review, reviewees should use the guide provided to them by the Department of Human Resources to gather appropriate material for SL-PRCE evaluation purposes. Requests for promotion are normally initiated by the Manager of the Central Engineering (CE) Department or, in the case of engineers who are not members of CE staff, by the Associate Director (AD) of the appropriate Division. (The CE Manager or the AD reviews the grade assignment of each employee at least annually during the performance appraisal period, carefully considering comments from supervisors. Employees are expected to discuss their career path, including the possibility of promotion if appropriate, with their supervisor during the performance appraisal.)

All requests for SL-PRCE review should be sent to the HR Manager by the CE Manager or AD for non-CE staff.

The CE Manager or the AD (or their respective designees) should prepare a complete description of the reviewee's duties and an appraisal letter of the reviewee's record. This appraisal is separate from the reviewee's annual performance appraisal. The Committee Chairperson will request at least three and preferably five letters of evaluation of the appropriateness of the proposed promotion, all from senior scientists and/or engineers external to the CfA who are familiar with the reviewee's work and who could comment on the scope of her/his accomplishments. The reviewee may suggest to the Chairperson up to two individuals to provide such letters. The reviewee's supervisor may nominate up to three other individuals. The Committee may accept the suggested references or may solicit up to the full five of these letters on its own, if in the Committee's view, suggested individuals are inappropriate references. In such instances, any changes will be discussed by the Committee with the reviewee and/or her/his supervisor, before the Committee makes a final decision.

In unusual cases, an individual may request that the HR Manager and the PRCE Chairperson investigate whether an exception to the normal procedure is appropriate. In such a case, the request must be supported by a written statement from the individual demonstrating her/his qualifications or experience with specific reference to the evaluation criteria described in the Grade Evaluation Guide, available from the HR Department. If the Committee accepts the request, it will also require that the usual evaluation statement from the individual's supervisor be included in the review; in addition, the Committee will obtain at least three and preferably five letters of support following the procedures described above. If the Committee does not accept the request, either the Chairperson or the HR Manager will provide the reasons to the individual requesting the review.

VI. Response to the Findings

The Director or her/his designee will, within 30 working days of receiving an evaluation report, discuss the Committee's findings and conclusions with the individual whose work has been reviewed. Following this meeting, the individual may request to review the summary report and submit comments to the Director.


Use the following as a guide in compiling material for your Senior Level-Promotion Review Committee for Engineers (SL-PRCE) review:

  1. Updated vita containing the following information:
      1. Education
      2. Employment History
      3. Professional Skills
      4. Publications (copies of up to three may be included)
      5. A short description of the engineering projects that you have undertaken within the past five years, emphasizing the role that you have played in each of these projects. (Several pages should suffice.)
      6. If relevant, up to three additional important memos, pictures of significant work, annotated drawings or other information.
      7. The names and addresses of up to two individuals not at the CfA from whom the SL-PRCE Chairperson may request a letter in support of the promotion. All of these individuals should be scientists or senior engineers familiar with your work. (Your supervisor will be asked by the Chairperson to provide the names of up to three additional such individuals.)
      8. Membership on advisory committees (internal and external).
      9. Responsibility for meetings/technical conferences.

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