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Number: DAO 202-250
Effective Date: 2009-04-30


.01 The purpose of this Order is to delegate authority within the Department of Commerce (the “Department”) to make human resources management decisions, to administer human resources programs and activities, and to effect personnel actions; reserve certain matters for approval in the Office of the Secretary; and reflect organizational changes and various delegations and reservations of authority.

.02 Limitations are placed on the delegation of authority to enable the Secretary and certain officials within Office of the Secretary:

a. to review personnel actions involving key positions in the Department's organization;

b. to coordinate precedent-setting decisions affecting classes of employees, positions, or a pay system;

c. to strengthen adherence to merit principles in the career civil service and foreign service, and to assure equity in the application of Department policies; and

d. to ensure that employment decisions and the acquisition of human resources are appropriate both in fact and in appearance.

.03 This revision clarifies the authority of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration (CFO/ASA) to approve actions affecting positions in the Senior Executive Service, Senior Professionals, NOAA Corps, Senior Foreign Service, or equivalent. This clarification is consistent with the delegations of authority in Department Organizational Order 10-3 (section 401.ii) and 10-5 (sections 3.01, 3.02a and I, and 4.01.c). This also authorizes the Director for Human Resources Management to participate in the annual performance evaluation of bureau Principal Human Resources Managers, covering 25% of the overall rating for the critical performance element, “Human Capital Management.”


For the purposes of this Order the following definitions apply:

a. Heads of Operating Units -- officials who are assigned by the President or by the Secretary to manage the primary or constituent operating units of the Department (as defined in Department Organization Order 1-1, "Mission and Organization of the Department of Commerce," and in the Orders establishing the respective operating units). For policies and
decisions involving the Office of the Secretary, the CFO/ASA will fulfill the responsibilities of the head of an operating unit except where it would be more appropriate for the Secretary or Deputy Secretary to do so.

b. Appointing Officer -- an official who has delegated authority to take or approve final position and personnel actions in the Department. (Personnel actions include appointments, assignments, transfers, reassignments, promotions, details, demotions, and removals – in general, all decisions affecting an individual's status or pay in the Federal Service.) Appointing officers are identified in paragraph 4.01 of this Order and in Appendix A to this Order.

c. Director for Human Resources Management -- the senior career official responsible for the development and management of all human resources policies and programs, the delegation and redelegation of authority to other officials of the Department, and the provision of personnel and payroll advice and services to the Office of the Secretary and other designated components of the Department. This official, in consultation with the Departmental Chief Human Capital Officer, also serves as the rating official of record for bureau Principal Human Resources Managers’ critical performance element, “Human Capital Management,” covering 25 percent of the overall rating.

d. Principal Human Resources Manager -- an appointing officer designated to provide human resources management advice and support to heads of operating units in the development of policies and programs in addition to the delivery of human resources services.

e. Servicing Human Resources Manager -- an appointing officer designated to assist managers in implementing the human resources policies and programs of their operating unit, and to provide a full range of human resources services to one or more components of the Department.


.01 The Secretary has delegated administrative management to the CFO/ASA. The CFO/ASA has further delegated authority for human resources management in Department Organization Order 20-8, "Director for Human Resources Management" (the "Director"), with the authority to redelegate to appropriate officials of the Department.

.02 The authority delegated or redelegated is to be exercised in conformity with personnel laws and regulations, Department policies, and conditions or limitations that are established by the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, the CFO/ASA, or the Director.

.03 The Secretary has delegated authority for policy direction over the executive resources of the Department to the Departmental Executive Resources Board (DERB) chaired by the Deputy Secretary, and final approval of all personnel actions regarding executive resources to the CFO/ASA. Policies and instructions approved by the DERB are contained in the Executive Personnel and Policy Manual.

.04 The authority of the Inspector General to select, appoint, and conduct all human resources management activities for the Office of the Inspector General is conferred by law and is not delegated under this Order. Department reviews of programmatic or individual human resources matters in the Office of the Inspector General will be concerned only with conformity to government-wide or Department-wide standards and procedures. However, by law the Inspector General may be exempt from Department clearances or approvals in instances in which compliance would interfere with an investigation, audit, or subpoena.


.01 Subject to the approval of the CFO/ASA for certain human resource management matters designated in Appendix B, authority for human resources management is delegated under this Order to heads of operating units by virtue of their responsibilities, and to other appointing officers specified in Appendix A. The Director may designate other officers and employees of the Department to exercise specified human resources management responsibilities as circumstances may warrant, and is authorized to revise Appendix A from time to time without further approval of higher authority.

.02 Heads of operating units are responsible for:

a. administering a human resources program which is consistent with the personnel laws and regulations and with Department policies, standards, procedures, and instructions;

b. ensuring that managers and supervisors are made aware of and held accountable for their human resources management responsibilities; and

c. arranging for human resources services to be provided efficiently.

.03 Heads of operating units and other officials who have authority delegated under this Order may place limitations or conditions upon the exercise of human resources authority by subordinate officials within their organizations, with the prior approval of the Director for any limitations that will exceed six months.

.04 With immediate notification to the CFO/ASA, the Director may withdraw or modify any authority delegated under this Order in the interest of sound management or for good cause such as serious human resources program deficiencies or failure to take corrective measures.

.05 Liaison with other Federal departments and agencies that may affect Department-wide human resources management policy, authority, organization, plans, or program evaluation shall be conducted by or with the approval of the Director.

.06 Human resources management authorities assigned to the Department under new laws or regulations, or delegations from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), are reserved to the Office of the Secretary until redelegated through appropriate Department directives.

.07 The Director is authorized to approve variations from Department policy (within the limits of discretion permitted to agencies by human resources management laws and regulations) in the interest of sound management or equitable treatment of employees. Requests for such variations ordinarily will be in writing and submitted to the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) by or through an appointing officer of the operating unit involved.


.01 Any manager or supervisor may be delegated authority for assigning duties, determining work priorities, selecting employees, appraising performance, taking corrective actions, approving leave and recommending position and human resources actions in accordance with the policies of the Department and of his or her organization. Authority so delegated must be reflected in official organizational statements, internal delegations of authority, position descriptions, or performance plans.

.02 Authority is delegated to officers and employees listed in Appendix A, and to other employees when designated by the Director in writing to: administer and conduct all human resources management programs and activities in and for their specified organizations; and, subject to the requirements of Appendix B, to approve and process human resources actions. Exercise of this authority is subject to the limitations and instructions set forth in this Order and in other Departmental directives, especially the Department Administrative Orders (DAOs) in the 202 series.

.03 Appointing officers:

a. shall consult with the Director prior to exercising their delegated authority whenever a human resources issue, employment decision, or personnel action may be precedent-setting or outside normal human resources management practice.

b. who submit a position or personnel action for CFO/ASA approval or clearance are fully responsible for the legality, propriety, and technical sufficiency of the action. Documents must provide sufficient information to evaluate the proposal, and the names of all officials who are approving the action.

.04 Officials listed in Appendix A may personally administer the oath incident to entrance on duty in the Federal Government (5 U.S.C. 3331), or may designate in writing any employee of the Department to administer that oath, or any other oath required by law in connection with employment.

.05 Human resources managers may designate employees under their supervision to:

a. administer specific human resources management programs;

b. determine that proposed human resources or position actions conform to the requirements of law, regulation, and policy;

c. process approved human resources actions and maintain required records; and

d. advise managers, supervisors, and employees as to their obligations and rights as employees of the Department.

.06 Under no circumstances may a vacancy be filled, or may an individual be advised to report for duty, except by or with the approval of an appointing officer to whom authority has been delegated under this Order.

.07 Authority delegated under this Order is subject to approval as listed in Appendix B to this Order. Central clearance will be given or obtained by the Director, who will issue instructions from time to time for obtaining such clearance. The appointing officer who will effect an action remains fully responsible for its legality and propriety.


.01 As a matter of Department policy, all human resources actions must be approved by an appointing officer (listed in Appendix A or otherwise designated in writing by the Director) and recorded on Standard Form 50B, "Notification of Personnel Action," or other document specified by OPM or the Government Accountability Office. The effective date and other terms of the human resources action will be legally valid as specified on the SF-50B.

.02 When human resources actions involve the exercise of management discretion (such as most accessions, changes in employment status, and involuntary separations), evidence of approval prior to the effective date of the SF-50B ordinarily will consist of a Standard Form 52, "Request for Personnel Action," bearing the signatures and clearances of appropriate management and human resources staff (or an approved electronic equivalent). The absence of an SF-52 will not invalidate actions taken when there is other evidence of management's intentions and approval (e.g., management memoranda in adverse action cases, and detailed notices to employees in reduction-in-force cases).

.03 Actions involving the establishment, reallocation, movement, modification, or discontinuance of a position for classification purposes will become legally valid only upon approval or cancellation shown on form CD-516, "Classification and Performance Management Record," (or authorized alternative form) by an appointing officer or by a qualified individual to whom classification authority has been properly delegated. The effective date will be as specified on the form CD-516, or on such other date as OPM or OHRM may determine.


.01 Heads of operating units must ensure that human resources services and advice are available to all components of their organizations, and should cooperate in the development of consolidated offices of human resources management to provide services across organizational lines wherever such arrangements will contribute to effectiveness and economy of operations.

.02 The number of offices of human resources management established in the Department shall be kept to the minimum consistent with economy and efficiency. Offices of human resources management may be established, combined, or eliminated only with the approval of the CFO/ASA

.03 Under a consolidated services arrangement, the human resources manager serves as a management official of each operating unit involved, and is responsible for providing advice and services to all units equitably and efficiently.

.04 Outside the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, human resources services are consolidated whenever possible in Workforce Management Offices (WMOs) for the provision of consistent levels of service to all components of the Department within each defined region. The scope of services in the regions, whether provided by WMOs or other arrangements, must be described in written agreements on human resources management and services. Changes in agreements, scope of service, or geographic arrangements are subject to consultation in advance with the Director.

.05 The Director shall authorize development and operation of automated human resources processing and information systems to conform to the Government-wide requirements of the Federal Personnel Program and Departmental information or processing requirements. No component of the Department may maintain an automated system for personnel management purposes other than a system authorized by the Director specifically and in writing.


Appointing officers are delegated authority to establish qualification standards for their excepted service positions. Each standard established must conform to the requirements of 5 CFR Part 302.


The regulations and policies upon which the Department's human resources management program is based will be promulgated as Department Administrative Orders in the 202 series. Technical guidance, such as human resources bulletins and handbooks, may be issued to officials and employees as needed or desired for effective human resources management.


Use of the authority for approving human resources actions and managing personnel programs, as delegated by this Order and by other DAOs in the 202 series, is subject to review by OPM and OHRM. The Director is responsible for maintaining an effective oversight program, for issuing up-to-date evaluation guidance, and for reporting the findings periodically to the CFO/ASA and the Deputy Secretary.


This Order supersedes Department Administrative Order 202-250, dated July 26, 1996.

Signed by: Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer and
Director for Human Resources Management

Approved by: Acting Chief Financial Officer and
Assistant Secretary for Administration

Office of Primary Interest: Office for Human Resources Management




The following list identifies principal managerial officials with full human resources management authority to conduct all human resources management programs, and (subject to the limitations set forth in this Order including the requirements of Appendix B) the authority to approve and process human resources actions for their offices or operating units. Deputies to these officials are not listed as their authority is inherent in their positions when acting on behalf of the principal official. Appointing officers may delegate specific human resources management authorities to individuals at lower organizational levels. However, appointing authority may not be redelegated. Any delegations that are made by these appointing officers must be documented in writing with notice to the appropriate servicing human resources manager.


Secretary* / Entire Department

Deputy Secretary* / Entire Department

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration / Entire Department

Director for Human Resources Management / Entire Department

Secretarial Officers Offices / Offices and Operating Units which they direct or for which they have oversight

Heads of Operating Units / Offices and Operating Units which they direct or for which they have oversight

Human Resources Managers / Offices and Operating Units which they direct or for which they have oversight

General Counsel / Office of the General Counsel

Inspector General* / Office of the Inspector General

*Authority is not delegated under this Order but is inherent in the position.

Under Secretary for Economic Affairs



Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

Under Secretary for Industry and Security

Under Secretary for International Trade / For the Civil Service

Chief Financial Officer and Director of Administration / For the Civil Service

Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service / For the Foreign Service

National Director

Under Secretary and Administrator for NOAA

Assistant Secretary for Communications
and Information

Under Secretary for Intellectual Property
and Director (USPTO)




Chiefs of Personnel or similar officials at U.S. Embassies, for foreign nationals employed locally and for other employees assigned to duty outside the United States. Extent of authority is determined by agreements and instructions issued by Department appointing officers listed in this Appendix.




01 The Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration approves actions affecting positions in the Senior Executive Service, Senior Professionals, NOAA Corps, Senior Foreign Service or equivalent. (Refer to the Executive Personnel and Policy Manual for specific requirements.)

.02 The Director for Human Resources Management, in coordination with the Office of White House Liaison, where appropriate, approves:

a. Actions affecting any position of a confidential or policy-determining nature excepted from the competitive civil service by statute or by the Office of Personnel Management under Schedule C of the excepted service (5 CFR Part 213).

b. Details of employees from any component of the Department to Congress, the White House, the Office of Management and Budget and related Offices, and to all agencies and organizations outside the Department of Commerce.

c. Conversion into the competitive service, or reappointment, of any individual who (a) within the previous twelve months has served in the legislative or judicial branches, or as a Presidential appointee, a member of the White House staff, in the Office of the President or Vice President, in the Office of Management and Budget, or in related offices; or (b) within the past five years has served on a noncareer SES appointment or on a Schedule C appointment.

d. Negotiated agreements between any component of the Department and a labor organization as exclusive representative.

e. Proposed or revised pay plans and wage schedules for positions not subject to chapter 51 of title 5, U.S. Code. (Exception: NOAA is delegated authority for Wage Marine (WM) pay policy and WM pay setting. Implementation of new WM schedules must be coordinated with the Department's Office of Human Resources Management and appropriate organizations providing automated personnel and payroll support.)

f. Proposed performance appraisal systems that differ from the Department OPM-approved system.

.03 The General Counsel approves actions affecting attorney positions and other positions that require professional legal training. (Exceptions: (1) There is no clearance requirement for Attorneys in the Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General; and (2) there is no clearance requirement for positions outside the Office of Solicitor in the Patent and Trademark Office which require varying degrees of legal training.)


Appendix B is not intended to be all inclusive. Other Department Administrative Orders or documents may establish additional clearance requirements.

Office of Privacy and Open Government
Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

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Page last updated:December 18, 2009