Handbook EL-312 Revision

Effective April 1, 2014, the Postal Service™ will revise Handbook EL-312, Employment and Placement, to update chapter 5 to incorporate changes related to the extension of the probationary period for newly hired nonbargaining employees. Chapter 7 will be revised to include updates for policies related to nonbargaining positions. The following forms will also be updated with evaluation periods that coincide with the new probationary period:

n Supervisory — PS Form 5956-SUP, EAS Supervisory Employee Probationary Period Report. http://blue.usps.gov/formmgmt/forms/ps5956sup.pdf

n Non-Supervisory PS Form 5956-EAS, EAS Non-Supervisory Employee Probationary Period Report. http://blue.usps.gov/formmgmt/forms/ps5956eas.pdf

n Managerial — PS Form 5956-MGR, EAS Managerial Employee Probationary Period Report. http://blue.usps.gov/formmgmt/forms/ps5956mgr.pdf

n Executive — PS Form 5956-EXE, Executive Employee Probationary Period Report. http://blue.usps.gov/formmgmt/forms/ps5956exe.pdf

Finally, new PS Form 5956-PI, Postal Inspector Probationary Period Report, is now available. http://blue.usps.gov/formmgmt/forms/ps5956pi.pdf

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Handbook EL-312, Employment and Placement

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5 Suitability

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58 Post Hire Suitability

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584 Employee Evaluation

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584.3 Length of Probationary Periods

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584.32 Career Appointment to Nonbargaining Position

[Revise the text of 584.32 to read as follows:]

An applicant selected for career appointment to a nonbargaining position must serve a probationary period of 1 year of continuous service in the Postal Service, or 1 year of combined service (federal and postal) without a break of a workday in positions in the same line of work.

An applicant hired as a Postal Inspector must serve a probationary period of 2 years.

Exception: The probationary period for a person with veterans’ preference appointed as a Postal Inspector is 1 year.

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584.61 Conducting the Initial Discussion

[Revise the text of 584.61 to read as follows:]

During an employee’s first week at a work site, the immediate manager must have an initial discussion with the employee to clearly outline performance expectations for the probationary period. This discussion is documented on the appropriate form, as follows:

n Supervisory — PS Form 5956-SUP, EAS Supervisory Employee Probationary Period Report.

n Non-Supervisory PS Form 5956-EAS, EAS Non-Supervisory Employee Probationary Period Report.

n Managerial — PS Form 5956-MGR, EAS Managerial Employee Probationary Period Report.

n Executive — PS Form 5956-EXE, Executive Employee Probationary Period Report.

n Postal Inspector PS Form 5656-PI, Postal Inspector Probationary Period Report.

These forms are available online at http://blue.usps.gov/formmgmt/forms.htm.

584.63 Performance Evaluation Intervals

[Revise the text of 584.63 to read as follows:]

The probationary period for most nonbargaining employees is 1 year and increases to 2 years for some Postal Inspectors (see 584.32). In addition to providing the ongoing feedback necessary for successful performance management, the manager must conduct formal discussions with the employee. After the initial meeting during the employee’s first week at the work site, the manager will conduct and document interactive discussions at regular intervals as described on the appropriate probationary form (see 584.61). Both the employee and manager are required to initial the form to indicate completion of these discussions.

On the final evaluation, the manager must recommend definitively that the employee be either retained or separated. The employee and the manager both must sign the evaluation form. If the employee refuses to sign it, the manager will indicate that the employee was offered the opportunity to sign, but declined to do so.

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7 Assignment, Reassignment, and Promotion

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74 Nonbargaining Positions

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741 Purpose of Subchapter 74

[Revise the text of 741 to read as follows:]

These policies and procedures are to be used in filling headquarters, area, and field nonbargaining positions, including most supervisory, managerial, administrative, clerical, and Postmaster positions under the following pay systems: (a) EAS, (b) Management Pay Band, and (c) Technical Pay Band. Selections for Attorney Compensation System positions are not covered by Subchapter 74. Supervisor, Customer Services and Supervisor, Distribution Operations positions are filled using the policies and procedures contained in 75, Supervisor Selection Process.

742 Selection Principles

[Revise the text of 742(d) to read as follows:]

d. Ensure that:

(1) The system and process are fair and

(2) Selections are made from a group of candidates that is as inclusive and diverse as possible.

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743.11 When to Consider Noncompetitive Applications

[Revise the text of 743.11 to read as follows:]

Management may consider qualified employees eligible for a noncompetitive voluntary lateral reassignment or change to a lower level at any of the following times:

a. When applications are received.

b. Before the competitive announcement process begins.

c. During the competitive announcement process.

d. After the applications have been assessed.

Individuals with a saved grade are considered noncompetitively for positions up to the level of their former position.

Employees seeking noncompetitive placement into a position at the same or lower level may submit a written request to the selecting official for consideration, or, if an employee with a disability seeks reasonable accommodation by reassignment to a position at the same or lower level, the employee works with the appropriate reasonable accommodation committee at the district, area, or headquarters level.

743.12 Competitive Selection

[Revise the text of 743.12 to read as follows:]

If a position is not filled through noncompetitive procedures, then it is filled competitively through employee applications in response to a vacancy announcement.

743.13 Defining the Area of Consideration

[Revise the text of 743.13 to read as follows:]

Selecting officials are responsible for defining the area of consideration for nonbargaining vacancies (see 741) as outlined in the following sections.

[Add the title and text of 743.131 to read as follows:]

743.131 Minimum Area of Consideration

a. The minimum area of consideration for Headquarters vacancies is career nonbargaining employees Service-wide.

b. The minimum area of consideration for Area vacancies is career nonbargaining employees Area-wide.

c. The minimum area of consideration for Field vacancies is career nonbargaining employees within the District. Exception: the minimum area of consideration for positions filled under the Supervisor Selection Process is all career employees (including bargaining employees) District-wide (see 75).

All eligible nonbargaining employees (including Area, Headquarters, and Headquarters field units) may apply if their current work location (where they physically report to work) is located within the geographic (service) area of the organizational unit in the job posting.

[Add the title and text of 743.132 to read as follows:]

743.132 Extending the Area of Consideration

After the assessment of potential applicants, the area of consideration may be expanded to include:

a. Career bargaining employees,

b. A larger geographic territory (i.e., Area-wide or Service-wide), or

c. An external announcement.

743.14 Determining Eligibility

[Revise the text of 743.14 to read as follows:]

Career employees are eligible to apply for posted nonbargaining positions if they are within the area of consideration.

Other employees are eligible under the following circumstances:

a. Extended eligibility. Eligibility is extended for certain Postmaster positions, as follows:

(1) Postmaster. PMRs [This includes Postmaster relief/leave replacements (PMR/LRs) and Postmaster Reliefs (RMPO)] may apply and compete for internally-announced career 6-hour Postmaster vacancies posted within their district when the area of consideration has been expanded to career bargaining employees.

(2) The PMR applying for a posted Postmaster position at his or her employing Post Office, must be considered by the selecting official at that Post Office.

b. Special nomination for nonbargaining positions. Vice presidents of Area Operations and the manager of Corporate Personnel Management may nominate employees from any location within the Postal Service for any vacancy advertised so that they may be considered in competition with applicants from within the area of consideration. This nomination process is to ensure expanded opportunities to resolve saved grade situations, hardship, and/or trailing spouse cases.

[Revise the title and text of 743.15 to read as follows:]

743.15 120-Calendar-Day Time Limit on Higher-Level Temporary Assignments

When a vacant authorized nonbargaining position is filled by a higher-level temporary assignment (detail) pending selection of a person for permanent placement, an employee may be assigned to the position for a total of not more than 120 calendar days. A vacant position is one where the previous employee has separated or has been placed in another job.

a. If the employee on temporary assignment:

(1) Could become or is a potential candidate for the vacant position, then the higher-level assignment must be terminated before the 121st calendar day.

(2) Is not a candidate, then the next higher-level manager over the manager with the vacancy must verify the non-candidate status of the employee in order to approve an extension of the temporary assignment beyond 120 calendar days. (Exception: if the detail assignment was originally approved by a PCES Manager, additional approval for the extension is not necessary. See 716.144.)

The extension lasts until a selection is made and a new employee permanently assumes the position.

b. An employee who has served in a vacant position for more than 120 calendar days is ineligible for placement in that position.

[Revise the title and text of 743.16 to read as follows:]

743.16 Exceptions to the 120-Calendar-Day Limit

a. The 120-calendar-day time limit does not apply if the assignment is:

(1) To a position at the same or lower level.

(2) During the temporary absence of an employee.

(3) To an officer-in-charge assignment.

(4) To an initial level supervisor position.

(5) To a headquarters position.

b. A trailing spouse is the spouse of a nonbargaining employee relocated for placement into a new position. The trailing spouse may be detailed for no more than 90 calendar days in the new location. The 90-day assignment may be extended for one additional 90-day period with the written approval of the:

(1) Manager, Human Resources (Area) — for field assignments; or

(2) Functional officer — for detail to a Headquarters position.

[Revise the title and text of 743.17 to read as follows:]

743.17 Posting a Nonbargaining Vacancy Announcement

Announcements are posted for a minimum of 15 calendar days. Note: Exceptions may apply during periods of organizational change.

The following must be included in the vacancy announcement:

a. Duty station

b. Work assignment

c. Nonscheduled days

d. Work hours.

If any of these elements require frequent change in order to meet operational requirements, the announcement must state this.

Section 763.22, Local Options for Typing and Driving Requirements, describes the circumstances in which typing and driving can be added.

743.18 Conditions for Not Announcing

[Revise the text of 743.18 to read as follows:]

A vacancy does not have to be announced again if: (a) an identical vacancy was announced previously; and (b) fewer than 120 calendar days have elapsed since the identical announcement’s closing date.

The two vacancies must have the same:

a. Position title;

b. Occupation code;

c. Grade;

d. Location;

e. Tour (where applicable); and

f. Position requirements.

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743.21 Recruiting for Additional Applicants

[Revise the text of 743.21 to read as follows:]

Generally, nonbargaining positions are filled from within the Postal Service. Management is not required, however, to select postal applicants over significantly better qualified external applicants. Every effort must be made to select the individual who best meets the requirements of the position. The following procedures apply:

a. The selecting official initiates recruitment from an external source to fill a vacancy only after exhausting the internal selection process (with or without expanded area of consideration per 743.13).

b. The selecting official may choose either a noncompetitive or a competitive recruitment source. For example, the official may:

1. Reinstate a qualified former nonbargaining postal employee separated due to a reduction-in-force who has been placed on a Reinstatement List under the conditions described in Employee and Labor Relations Manual Section 354.27.

2. Use one of the external recruitment sources described in 233.

3. Initiate a competitive process by having the vacancy posted on www.usps.com.

c. If an external posting attracts qualified applicants but does not result in a job offer being extended, the vacancy may be reposted internally (or filled noncompetitively with an internal employee) no sooner than 180 days from the closing date of the last external posting.

d. External applicants must complete PS Form 2591, Application for Employment.

Note: Current Postal Service career employees are not eligible to apply for external job postings.

[Revise the title and text of 743.22 to read as follows:]

743.22 Competitive Recruitment Source

When a nonbargaining vacancy is to be filled externally and a noncompetitive recruitment source is not used, the vacancy is posted on www.usps.com for a minimum of 5 business days to ensure adequate public notice (see 42). Additional recruitment activities may be employed to attract a diverse mix of qualified applicants for the vacancy’s speciality.

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[Delete Exhibit 743.22 in its entirety.]

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[Add the title and text of 743.23 and 743.24 to read as follows:]

743.23 Positions With a Test Requirement

If the nonbargaining position has an examination requirement, all external applicants who apply by the closing date must have an equal opportunity to complete the testing process if not currently qualified.

743.24 Evaluating External Applicants

Evaluate external applicants, including those who qualify on testing requirements, by using the methods described in 743.4 and the Nonbargaining Selection Methods training, unless otherwise stated.

743.3 Internal Applications

[Revise the text of 743.3 to read as follows:]

Internal applicants for all posted nonbargaining positions must submit applications by the closing date of the announcement using the online application system, eCareer. Exception: Under USERRA, applications from employees who are on active duty with the uniformed services are accepted at any time for subsequent consideration when a vacancy is announced (see 772.1b). Applicants for promotion who (a) are not otherwise eligible on an examination requirement, (b) do not achieve a passing score on a required examination, or (c) fail to complete the examination process are ineligible for further consideration for the vacancy (see 422 and 433).

The selecting official may verify any information provided on the application with appropriate individuals.

743.4 Assessing Applications

[Revise the text of 743.4 to read as follows:]

The following sections discuss two components used in assessing applications for both internal and external applicant pools:

a. The use of guidelines by personnel involved in the process; and

b. Process and documentation requirements.

743.41 Using Guidelines

[Revise the text of 743.41 to read as follows:]

Selections are to be made in line with the philosophy and methods described in Nonbargaining Selection Methods training, available on the Learning Management System (LMS). This course, and Essentials of Interviewing and Hiring: Behavioral Interview Techniques, course 3623586, are required training for selecting officials and review committee members.

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[Add the title and text of 743.421, 743.422, and 743.423 to read as follows:]

743.421 KSA Requirements

Applicants are evaluated based on their demonstration of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) relevant to the position’s requirements. The KSAs to be considered are specified on the vacancy posting. Applicants are not required to address each KSA individually in a narrative description. Demonstration of the requirements may appear under education, work experience, the summary of accomplishments, and attachments (e.g., resumes, writing samples).

Applicants’ qualifications are assessed as described in 743.43, Assessing Nonbargaining Applicants.

743.422 Requirement-by-Applicant Matrix

Assessments must be recorded on PS Form 5957, Requirement-by-Applicant Matrix. Each vacancy package must have one completed, dated, and signed matrix that lists each applicant’s ratings. When using a review committee, the chairperson is responsible for completing a matrix that documents the committee’s consensus ratings. If a review committee is not used, the selecting official must complete the matrix. See 743.442 for retention requirements.

743.423 Use of Notes

If the committee chairperson makes any notes in the consensus discussion, or the selecting official makes any notes regarding any of the applicants, while reviewing applications or conducting interviews, these notes are considered official documentation of the assessment process. Such notes must be preserved in their original state regardless of the format and medium used for recording. The note-taker must date and sign all notes taken. See 743.442 for retention requirements.

[Revise the title of 743.43 to read as follows:]

743.43 Assessing Nonbargaining Applicants

743.431 Rating Applicant’s KSAs

[Revise the text of 743.431 to read as follows:]

Rate the applicant’s demonstration of KSAs for each requirement on the vacancy posting, and record the ratings on the PS Form 5957, Requirement-by-Applicant Matrix. Use the following scale:

a. 0 points — Not demonstrated at minimum level.

b. 1 point — Minimally acceptable.

c. 2 points — Strong.

d. 3 points — Excellent.

[Revise the title and text of 743.432 to read as follows:]

743.432 Completing the Requirement-by-Applicant Matrix

Instructions for completing the matrix:

a. Entering names and KSA requirements. Spaces for entering specific requirements for the position are across the top of the matrix. Spaces for applicants’ names are on the left. All applicants must be listed on the matrix. If a review committee is used, the chairperson is responsible for recording the consensus ratings. If a review committee is not used, the selecting official records his or her ratings on the matrix.

b. Evaluating requirements other than KSAs. Most Postal Service jobs only have KSA requirements. However, if a job does have requirements other than KSAs (e.g., education or test):

1. Determine if the applicant meets the requirements.

2. In the appropriate space on the matrix, record YES if the applicant meets the requirements, or NO if the applicant does not meet them.

3. This is the only rating for such requirements. Do not assign points to them.

4. Exercise caution when reviewing education or test requirements, taking care not to disqualify an applicant if the posting indicates that the requirement can be met at a later date.

c. Evaluating KSAs. Indicate the applicant’s demonstration of the KSAs on the matrix. For an applicant who:

1. Is clearly deficient in demonstrating one or more KSAs, record a zero (0) on the Requirement-by-Applicant Matrix for the requirements that the applicant failed to demonstrate.

2. Does not demonstrate any KSA at the minimum level, or who fails to meet a mandatory education requirement, no further consideration or rating is required. Record a zero (0) as the total KSA point score on the matrix.

3. Meets a KSA, enter the number of points earned (1, 2, or 3) in the appropriate space.

d. Compiling scores for applicants who meet all requirements. Total the number of points achieved for the KSA requirements and enter the total KSA point score on the matrix.

e. Using conversion tables for external applicants only. See Appendix F, Conversion Tables for Nonbargaining Positions, and follow these instructions:

1. Refer to the conversion table for a job with the same number of KSAs as the vacancy.

2. Locate the applicant’s Raw Score (total KSA points) and read across the chart to the converted score. This is the Basic Score.

3. The evaluator (review committee or selecting official) completing the matrix enters the Basic Scores into eCareer.

Exhibit 743.432 shows a sample completed matrix for an externally-announced vacancy.

[Revise the title of Exhibit 743.432 to read as follows:]

Exhibit 743.432 Completed PS Form 5957 Matrix for a Job With Five KSAs and an Education Requirement, External Vacancy



KSA 1:

Knowledge of statistical analysis packages (e.g., SAS)

KSA 2:

Knowledge of public relations and various media outlets

KSA 3:

Knowledge of survey research techniques and practices

KSA 4:

Knowledge of various approaches to evaluating employee performance

KSA 5:

Knowledge of purchasing and contract administration

Education Requirement:

Graduate degree in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology


(Total KSA Points)


(Does not include Veterans’ Preference)

Applicant 1









Applicant 2









Applicant 3









Applicant 4




Applicant 5






Applicant 6









[Revise the title of 743.44 to read as follows:]

743.44 Documentation Retention

[Add the title and text of 743.441 and 743.442 to read as follows:]

743.441 Responsibilities

The chairperson of the review committee and the selecting official are responsible for forwarding the documentation cited in 743.422 and 743.423 to local services for retention in eCareer as part of the vacancy package.

The selecting official is responsible for creating a vacancy file for vacancies filled outside eCareer, and retaining them for five years (see 743.442). The vacancy files include records that make it possible to demonstrate how established selection procedures have been followed.

743.442 Retention Period

Vacancy files are retained for five years.

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743.5 Roles of the Selecting Official and Review Committee

743.51 Selecting Official

[Revise the text of 743.51 to read as follows:]

The selecting official is the manager or supervisor with the vacancy. The selecting official:

a. Assesses the potential applicant pool;

b. Defines an area of consideration;

c. Selects candidates for designated vacancies; and

d. Ensures that selections are made in keeping with all applicable selection principles, including equal employment opportunity laws and the Affirmative Employment Program of the Postal Service.

743.52 Review Committee

[Revise the text of 743.52 to read as follows:]

When 11 or more applications are received, a review committee of at least 3 members must assess eligible applicants (see 743.522 and 743.523 for review committee membership and restrictions). If there are fewer than 11 applications, the selecting official may designate a review committee to assess eligible applicants.

[Revise the title and text of 743.521, 743.522, 743.523, 743.524, and 743.525 to read as follows:]

743.521 Function

The major functions of the review committee are to:

a. Assist the selecting official in assessing the applicants; and

b. Recommend candidates who best meet the qualifications of the vacant position.

743.522 Management Level of Members

Review committee members must be nonbargaining employees at a level equal to or higher than that of the vacant position. For review committee membership, level is defined as an employee’s permanent (or saved) grade, not a part-time or temporary level resulting from a temporary assignment (detail) or ad hoc assignment.

743.523 Restrictions on Membership

Restrictions on setting up a review committee include the following:

a. Neither the supervisor of the position to be filled nor any manager exercising authority over the supervisor, up to and including the selecting official, may serve on the review committee or participate in its deliberations.

b. Exceptions to review committee membership may be approved only by the area vice president. The reasons for making the exception must be fully documented and placed in the vacancy file.

c. Review committee members are prohibited from participating in the consideration or recommendation of a relative (as defined in Chapter 5). Each member is responsible for notifying the committee chairperson of the relationship. A member with such a relationship must be excused and replaced immediately.

d. Each member must be certified on Nonbargaining Selection Methods training, course 10022345, and Essentials of Interviewing and Hiring: Behavioral Interview Techniques, course 3623586 (see 743.41).

743.524 Duties

The duties of the review committee include:

a. Considering each application submitted. Each committee member must independently determine if each applicant has demonstrated each requirement.

b. Conducting interviews by telephone or in person, as needed. Review committee interviews are not mandatory.

c. Optionally requiring applicants to submit written samples of their past work that demonstrate their abilities to perform requirements directly related to the vacant position. Note: The committee is prohibited from requiring applicants to: (1) take a written test; (2) write a paper on a specified topic; (3) analyze and solve in writing a prescribed managerial or technical problem; or (4) undergo any other kind of written examination.

d. Recording consensus ratings for each eligible applicant on one PS Form 5957, Requirement-by-Applicant Matrix. The chairperson is responsible for ensuring that PS Form 5957 and related notes are included in the vacancy file (see 743.443).

e. Recommending the applicants who best meet the requirements of the position to the selecting official. Three to 5 candidates are generally recommended for one vacancy; 1 additional candidate is recommended for each additional vacancy to be filled from the posting.

743.525 Procedures

a. The selecting official designates the review committee and ensures that each committee member has taken the required training (see 743.523d) or will take the required training before evaluating applicants. The selecting official and the review committee may discuss how filling the vacant position will support business objectives.

b. Delays in completing selection activity should be avoided. Generally, the review committee should complete its activities within 7 days and the selecting official should within 5 days.

743.53 Selection of Applicants

[Revise the text of 743.53 to read as follows:]

The selecting official, with or without the assistance of a review committee, identifies the applicant whose KSAs best meet the requirements of the position and who has a high probability of successful performance in the position. Documentation responsibilities are described in 743.42.

a. If a review committee was used, and the committee:

1. Did not interview the recommended applicants, the selecting official must personally interview each of them before making a selection decision.

2. Did interview the recommended applicants, the selecting official may:

(a) Interview them again before making a selection; or

(b) Select a candidate based on the recommendations made by the review committee without conducting additional interviews. For externally-posted vacancies, the selecting official must use the Rule of Three when making selections (see 624).

b. If a review committee was not used, the responsibilities of the selecting official depend on whether the vacancy is being filled internally or externally, as follows:

1. Internal:

(a) Review the applications.

(b) Determine which applicants meet the minimum requirements, documenting ratings on PS Form 5957.

(c) Interview all minimally qualified applicants before making a selection.

2. External:

(a) Review the applications.

(b) Do one of the following:

i. Document ratings on PS Form 5957 based on the paper review, create Hiring List to determine applicant rank order, interview and make a selection using the Rule of Three (see 624); or

ii. Interview all applicants, document ratings on PS Form 5957, create Hiring List to determine rank order, and make a selection using the Rule of Three (see 624).

[Add the title and text of 743.6 to read as follows:]

743.6 Selection Approval

All selections (competitive or noncompetitive; internal or external) are subject to next higher-level review and approval. The required higher-level review and approval must be accomplished before the personnel action is effected or the selection announced.

Exception: Clerical positions (e.g., Administrative Assistant) reporting directly to a PCES manager do not require higher-level approval.

744 Implementing the Selection

744.1 Effective Dates

[Revise the text of 744.1 to read as follows:]

The gaining and losing organizations must coordinate effective dates to ensure appropriate coverage.

744.2 Transition

[Revise the text of 744.2 to read as follows:]

Whenever possible, the gaining manager and the successful applicant should meet to share expectations and concerns and to assist with an effective transition to the new position. The selecting official should introduce newly hired employees to the workforce whenever practical and manage the probation period as described in 584.

744.3 Postmaster Installation

[Revise the text of 744.3 to read as follows:]

The manager of Post Office Operations is responsible for coordinating postmaster installation ceremonies and determining the approach most appropriate for the office and the community based on the overall business value. Activities may include scheduled group meetings with community members, open houses, product presentations, and receptions [see Administrative Support Manual (ASM) 333.5, Open Houses, Tours, and Postmaster Installations].

[Add the title and text of 744.4 to read as follows:]

744.4 Security Clearance

When a security clearance is required for a nonbargaining position, the manager of the vacancy is responsible for initiating the process for the selected individual (see ASM 272, Personnel Security Clearances).

* * * * * 

These revisions will be published in the next online issue of Handbook EL-312, Employment and Placement, available on the Postal Service PolicyNet website:

n Go to http://blue.usps.gov.

n Under “Essential Links” in the left-hand column, click PolicyNet.

n Click HBKs.

(The direct URL for the Postal Service PolicyNet website is http://blue.usps.gov/cpim.)