Historical Development of the Federal Government's Job Classification System
Position classification in its most basic form has been a part of the federal government from its inception. As early as 1789, Congress established pay rates for clerks within the Departments of State, War, and the Treasury ( OPM, 1977:2.1). It was not until Congress passed the Classification Act of 1923 that an attempt was made to standardize salaries across the various government agencies. The Classification Act established the rudiments of much of today's classification process. It called for broad occupational divisions, divided into professional and subprofessional services. The professional services included professional and scientific occupations, while the subprofessional included clerical, administrative, fiscal, and custodial services. These groupings are very similar to today's PATCO (Professional, Administrative, Technical, Clerical, and Other) distinctions. The Act established that each of these services would be graded on the basis of four factors: importance, difficulty, responsibility, and value of the work. The Classification Act also provided that a uniform compensation schedule and general job classification system be established and applied irrespective of sex.
The Act established a central agency called the Personnel Classification Board. At this time the Act covered only 45,000 federal positions. The passage of the Welsh Act of 1928 extended the provisions of the Classification Act to all federal positions located throughout the United States.
In 1932, the functions of the Personnel Classification Board were