HR: SAO Promotion Review Committee for Engineers (PRCE)
 CHARTER - February 2001

I. Purpose of PRCE

The purpose of the PRCE is to provide a collegial forum for discussion and assessment of individual professional engineering accomplishments and for the systematic collection and transmittal of such information to the Director, SAO.

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

II. Committee Membership

The committee will include senior scientists who have extensive knowledge of the developmental engineering work performed at SAO, as well as engineers from Central Engineering (CE) who are technical experts in one or more specialty areas.

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

The other Committee appointments will be for two-year terms renewable at the Director's discretion and with the appointee's agreement.

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 PRCE evaluation packages sent to the Director for review/action are complete.

Because all 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. One copy will be submitted with the report to the Director; other copies will be destroyed.

IV. Frequency of Meetings/Coverage/Committee Responsibilities

The Committee will review separately each request for promotion of a Federal or Trust Fund engineer into grades 13 through 15. The review will include the significant accomplishments and achievements of the reviewee. The Committee will obtain 3 letters in support of the promotion as described in Section V.

The Committee will analyze the professional standing and level of accomplishment using the Engineering Grade Evaluation Guide as a reference. The Committee will submit its findings to the Director, SAO 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 individual engineer is performing at, above, or below his/her current grade level. If the Committee conclusion is not unanimous, the report will contain both majority and minority opinions. The Director, SAO will make the final decision/recommendation as to the promotion of an individual engineer.

V. Individual Reviewee's Responsibility/Rights

In order to make the fairest possible evaluation of an engineer, the PRCE needs to have the most up-to-date information on the accomplishments of the individual being reviewed. Reviewees should use the guide provided by the Department of Human Resources as part of their promotion review notification package (Appendix A of this document) to gather appropriate material for PRCE evaluation purposes.

Requests for promotion are normally initiated by the Manager, CE or, in the case of engineers who are not members of CE staff, by the Associate Director (AD) of the appropriate Division. (The Manager of CE 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 PRCE review should be sent to the Director, HR via the Manager, CE or the AD for non- CE staff. These requests must be submitted in ample time for consideration at the periodic PRCE review.

The Manager, CE, the Division Associate Director (or their respective designees) should prepare a complete description of the candidate's duties and an appraisal letter of the candidate's record. This appraisal is separate from the employee's annual performance appraisal. The committee will request two additional letters in support of the promotion, one from a senior engineer and one from a customer of the candidate's services. The candidate will nominate two individuals to provide these two additional letters. The committee will accept the nominations unless, in the committee's view, the nominated individuals are inappropriate references. In such instances, any changes will be discussed with the candidate.

In unusual cases, an individual may contact the Director, HR and the PRCE Chair to 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 his/her qualifications or experience with specific reference to the evaluation criteria described in the Engineering Grade Evaluation Guide. The committee will still require an evaluation statement from the individual's supervisor to be included in the review, as well as the two additional letters of support.

VI . Response to the Findings The Director or 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 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 CE projects that the candidate has undertaken within the past five years, emphasizing the role that the candidate has played in these projects. (At most a page or two is expected.)

    6. If relevant, up to three additional important memos, pictures of significant work, annotated drawings, or other information chosen by the candidate.

    7. The names and addresses of two individuals from whom Human Resources will request a letter in support of the promotion. These letters will be sent to Director, Human Resources Department. One of the two shall be a senior engineer (possibly a CE discipline chief) familiar with your work. The other shall be a scientist or program manager who is also familiar with your work. Note: The PRCE may contact these individuals or others to seek additional information.

    8. Membership on advisory committees (internal and external).

    9. Responsibility for meetings/technical conferences.

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