Appendix A. Technical Notes

Data Sources
Data References Period
Agency Coverage
Occupational Coverage
Definitions of work-activity classification categories
Limitations of the Data


The preceding report presents data on the demographic and employment characteristics of Federal scientists and engineers. This population consists of individuals in selected white collar civilian occupational groups who hold at least a university or college bachelor's degree. One table also provides information on Federal civilian white collar personnel educated in S&E fields but employed in non-S&E occupations. This report differs from previous reports on Federal scientists and engineers in that it presents for the first time a historical 5-year time-series on Federal scientists and engineers. The statistical tables were prepared by selecting various crosscuts of the following data elements on Federal scientists and engineers:

  1. Agency of employment
  2. Primary work activity (functional classification)
  3. Sex
  4. Occupational group and series
  5. Highest degree field
  6. Race/ethnicity
  7. Geographic division and State of official duty station
  8. Age
  9. Highest degree level
Data Sources

The data presented in this report were collected by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and provided to the National Science Foundation on magnetic tape. OPM extracted the data from their Central Personnel Data File (CPDF). The CPDF, which was established in 1972 and is maintained by OPM, is an automated system of individual records for almost all Federal civilian employees. Agencies collect this data on their employees from requests and notifications of individual personnel actions. The CPDF is maintained by monthly agency input of employment status files. All input files are edited for validity. The CPDF contains over 2 million records on full-time nonpostal Federal civilian employment.

Data Reference Period

The information provided by OPM for the years 1989-93 is from the Central Personnel Data Files (CPDF). The effective date of data provided for 1989-93 is as of September 30 of each year.

Agency Coverage

The CPDF does not contain information for (and as a result the report excludes data for) Members and employees of Congress, Architect of the Capitol, Botanic Gardens, Library of Congress, Congressional Budget Office, Copyright Royalty Tribunal, Office of Technology Assessment, Judicial Branch (except the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts), White House Office, Office of the Vice President, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Defense Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, U.S. Postal Service, Postal Rate Commission, foreign nationals employed overseas, or the Public Health Commissioned Corps. GAO was included in all years except 1993. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) does not report to the CPDF, but the magnetic tape provided to the National Science Foundation by OPM was supplemented to include TVA data for 1993 only. TVA data were not included in the years 1989-92.

The acronyms and abbreviated references of the Federal agencies for which tabular data are provided in this report are as follows:

Air Force- Department of the Air Force
Army- Department of the Army
Commerce- Department of Commerce
DOE- Department of Energy
DOT- Department of Transportation
Defense- Department of Defense
EPA- Environmental Protection Agency
HHS- Department of Health and Human Services
Interior- Department of the Interior
NASA- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Navy- Department of the Navy
TVA- Tennessee Valley Authority
USDA- Department of Agriculture
VA- Veterans Administration

Other abbreviations used are as follows:

R&D- research and development
S&E- science and engineering

Occupational coverage

The data reported in this report should be used with caution when examining data reported on Federal scientists and engineers in previous years. Some reports published prior to this report contain data about all scientists and engineers, regardless of their highest degree level. This report covers only Federal scientists and engineers with at least a bachelor's degree.

The Federal scientists and engineers included in this report were compiled from a group consisting of all Federal white collar employees as presented and reported by the Office of Personnel Management. The following list indicates the occupational group and series, by code number, of all scientific and engineering personnel in the Federal Government. The list of occupations that were selected is presented together with the occupational codes established for NSF's SESTAT (Scientists and Engineers Data System). SESTAT is an occupational classification system that NSF has established for all its S&E personnel surveys. The following table lists the occupations selected as S&E occupations from the CPDF and the corresponding SESTAT major and minor occupational groups.

Definitions of work-activity classification categories [4]

Research Development
Design Data collection, processing, and analysis
Natural resource operations Management
Installations, operations, and maintenance Planning
Test and evaluation Research contract and grants administration
Construction Production
Scientific and technical information Standards and specifications
Regulatory enforcement and licensing Teaching and training
Technical assistance and consulting

Research. Systematic, critical, intensive investigation directed toward the development of new or fuller scientific knowledge of the subject studied. It may be with or without reference to a specific application. The work involves theoretical, taxonomic, and experimental investigations or simulation of experiments and conditions for several purposes. The following list identifies these activities:

    (1) Determining the nature, magnitude, and interrelationships of natural and social phenomena and processes.
    (2) Creating and developing theoretical or experimental means of investigating such phenomena or processes.
    (3) Developing the principles, criteria, methods, and a body of data of general applicability for use by others.
Excluded from this research category is work concerned primarily with the administration and monitoring of research contracts and research grants.

Development. Systematic application of scientific knowledge directed toward the creation of new or substantially improved equipment, materials, instrumentation, devices, systems, mathematical models, processes, techniques, and procedures that will perform a useful function or be suitable for a particular duty. The work involves the following activities:

    (1) Establishing requirements for technical objectives and characteristics.
    (2) Devising and evaluating concepts for design approaches, criteria, parameters, characteristics, and interrelationships.
    (3) Experimenting, investigating, and testing to produce new data, mathematical models, methods of testing concepts; formulating design criteria; and measuring and predicting natural and social phenomena and performance.
    (4) Designing and developing prototypes, breadboards, and engineering models including the direction of their fabrication as required.
    (5) Developing standards and test plans to assure reliability.
    (6) Managing specific developments being executed in-house or under contract.

As does research, development advances the state of the art, but it is further characterized by the creation of specific end-items in the form of equipment or equipment systems (hardware development) and/or methodologies, mathematical models, procedures, and techniques (software development).

Crosswalk of NSF's SESTAT Major and Minor Occupational Groups and OPM Occupations
SESTAT Major and Minor GroupsOPM Occupation Codes
Detail Level
1.0 Computer and Mathematical Sciences
1.1 Computer and information sciences

1550 Computer scientists (those individuals = or > GS-15 or equivalent)
1550 Computer scientists (those individuals < GS-15 or equivalent)
334 Computer specialists (those individuals = or > GS-12 or equivalent)

1670 Equipment specialists
330 Digital equipment specialist, administration

1.2 Mathematical sciences

1520 Mathematicians
1515 Operations research analysts
1529 Mathematical statisticians
1530 Statisticians
1540 Cryptographers
1541 Cryptography analysts
1.8 Postsecondary teachers- Computer & mathematical sciences
2.0 Life and Related Sciences
Agricultural, forestry, and conservation scientists
2.1 Agricultural and food sciences

28 Environmental protection specialists
406 Agricultural extension specialists
437 Horticulturalists
454 Range conservationists
457 Soil conservationists
470 Soil scientists
471 Agronomers
487 Animal scientists
Biological scientists, including biochemists and biophysicists
2.2 Biological sciences

403 Microbiologists
408 Ecologists
410 Zoologists
413 Physiologists
414 Entomologists
415 Toxicologists
430 Botanists
434 Plant pathologists
435 Plant physiologists
440 Geneticists
482 Fishery biologists
486 Wildlife biologists
405 Pharmacologists

401 Biological scientists, general

2.3 Environmental life sciences, including forestry sciences

Included above under agricultural, forestry, and conservation scientists
2.8 Postsecondary teachers- Life & related Sciences
3.0 Physical and Related Sciences
3.1 Chemistry, except biochemistry1320 Chemists
3.2 Earth science, geology & oceanography

1330 Astronomers and space scientists
1340 Meteorologists
1313 Geophysicists
1315 Hydrologists
1350 Geologists
1372 Geodesists
1360 Oceonographers
1310 Physicists
3.4 Other physical sciences

1306 Health physicists
1301 Physical scientists, general
3.8 Postsecondary teachers- Physical & related sciences
4.0 Social and Related Sciences
4.1 Economists

110 Economists
135 Foreign agricultural affairs
1140 Trade specialist
1146 Agricultural market specialists
1147 Agricultural market reporting
2110 Transportation industry analysis
4.2 Political science and related sciences

130 Foreign affairs analysts
131 International relations specialists
4.3 Psychology180 Psychologists
4.4 Sociology and anthropology

190 General anthropologists
184 Sociologists
4.5 Other social sciences

106 Unemployment insurance specialist
132 Intelligence specialist
136 International cooperation specialist
150 Geographers
160 Civil rights analysts
140 Manpower research analysts
1730 Education research analysts
238x Social scientists, general
4.8 Postsecondary teachers- social & related sciences
5.0 Engineering
5.1 Aerospace and related engineering861 Aerospace enineers
5.2 Chemical engineering893 Chemical engineers
5.3 Civil and architectural engineering810 Civil engineers
5.4 Electrical, electronic, computer, & communications engineering

854 Computer engineers
850 Electrical engineers
855 Electronics engineers
5.5 Industrial engineering

803 Safety engineers
804 Fire prevention engineers
896 Industrial engineers
5.6 Mechanical engineering830 Mechanical engineers
5.7 Other engineering

890 Agricultural engineers
858 Biomedical engineers
819 Environmental engineers
871 Naval architects
806 Metallurgical engineers
892 Ceramic engineers
894 Welding engineers
1321 Metallurgists
880 Mining engineers
840 Nuclear engineers
881 Petroleum engineers

801 Engineers, general

5.8 Postsecondary teachers - Engineering

Design. The planning, synthesis, and portrayal for purposes of fabrication or construction of structures, equipment, materials, facilities, devices, and processes that will perform a useful function or be suitable for a certain duty.

The work involves the following activities:

    (1) Investigating, analyzing, and determining needs and design considerations.
    (2) Planning, synthesizing, and proportioning the structure of mechanisms so that the result is achieved with safety and economy.
    (3) Preparing design criteria, detailed designs, specifications, cost estimates, and operating instructions.
    (4) Reviewing and evaluating design proposals and designs prepared by others including the management of architectural and engineering contracts.

For present purposes, design in an R&D organization is the application of the known state of the art in the form of standard guidelines and references to prepare the detailed working plans and data required for fabrication, assembly, and production.

Data collection, processing, and analysis. The collection, processing, and analysis of general-purpose scientific data describing natural and social phenomena. General-purpose scientific data include newly gathered statistics, observations, instrument readings, measurements, specimens, and other facts obtained from such activities as statistical and field surveys, exploration, laboratory analyses, photogrammetry, and compilations of operating records for use by others. The following activities are involved:

    (1) Determining data needs and data processing requirements.
    (2) Planning, directing, and evaluating collection activities performed in-house or under contract.
    (3) Designing overall processing plans and systems to handle, control, operate, manipulate, reduce, store, check, and retrieve data.
    (4) Analyzing raw and processed data for validity and subject-matter interpretation.
    (5) Providing analytic services such as chemical analyses.
    (6) Forecasting and projecting data conditions.
    (7) Summarizing and presenting data for general use.

Excluded from this category are collection and analysis of data only for R&D projects and internal operating or administrative purposes such as policy formulation or planning.

Natural resource operations. The development and utilization of federally owned lands and natural resources for the purposes of bringing current use into balance with natural processes of renewal to assure sustained yields to meet present and future public needs. Natural resources include land, air, and water, and their related products or uses, such as soil, minerals, timber, forage, wildlife, power, and recreation. The work involves implementing programs and projects to inventory, classify, utilize, improve, conserve, regulate, protect, sell, lease, exchange, or market natural resources. Resource operations as defined here are concerned with managing and conserving the land and resources in a specified geographic area.

Management. The direction and control of science and engineering (S&E) programs in any one or combination of functions in a line or staff capacity with responsibilities that have a direct and substantial effect on the organizations and programs managed. The work involves decisions, actions, and recommendations that establish the basic content and character of the programs directed in terms of program objectives and priorities, program initiation and content, funding, and allocation of organizational resources.

This category is not intended to cover those primarily engaged in the supervision or monitoring of work carried out through contracts and grants, or in the contracts and grants administration. Such positions are to be coded to the appropriate function.

Installation, operations, and maintenance. The installing, assembling, integrating, and assuring of the proper technical operation and functioning of systems, facilities, machinery, and equipment. The work involves the following activities:

    (1) Analyzing operating and environmental conditions in order to provide design inputs and feedbacks, and modifying designs as necessary to adapt them to actual environments.
    (2) Developing and determining logistic requirements, documentation, technical plans, procedures, controls, and instructions.
    (3) Equipping, supplying, and commissioning facilities.
    (4) Analyzing performance and cost data and developing actual performance and cost-data requirements.
    (5) Integrating equipment installation and operating schedules.
    (6) Managing onsite an operating facility such as a power plant, test range, mission control center, irrigation station, data acquisition station, or flight control station.
    (7) Managing installation, operations, or maintenance contracts.

Planning. The study and projection of present and future needs and the formulation of alternative policies and ways of meeting these needs for the utilization of land; natural, social, industrial, material, and manpower resources; physical facilities; and social and economic services and programs. The work involves the following activities:

    (1) Gathering, compiling, analyzing, and evaluating data.
    (2) Projecting needs and establishing goals.
    (3) Developing single or alternative plans, policies, programs, and recommendations and measures of their economic, social, and political costs, benefits, and feasibility.
    (4) Reevaluating progress to assure that objectives are realized in putting the plans into effect.

This category includes physical, economic, and social planning for land population centers and mission, policy, and program planning.

Test and evaluation. The testing of equipment, materials, devices, components, systems, and methodologies under controlled conditions and the systematic evaluation of test data to determine the degree of compliance of the test item with predetermined criteria and requirements. This work is characterized by the development and application of test plans to be carried out in-house or under contract or grant utilizing one or more of the following kinds of tests: physical measurement techniques; controlled laboratory, shop, and field (demonstration) trials; and simulated environmental techniques. Activities included in this category are as follows:

    (1) Development testing to determine the suitability of the test item for use in its environment.
    (2) Production and postproduction testing to determine operational readiness.
    (3) Testing in regulatory programs to determine compliance with laws, regulations, and standards.
    (4) Testing in the social sciences using demonstration or experimental and control groups to determine the effectiveness of new methodologies or practices.

Research contract and grants administration. The administration and monitoring of research contracts and research grants.

Construction. The original erection, repair, and improvement of structures that provide shelter for people and activities, support transportation systems, and control natural resources. The work involves surveillance and control of construction operations carried out in-house or under Federal grants, contracts, or loans through the following activities:

    (1) Conducting site surveys.
    (2) Reviewing and interpreting project plans and specifications.
    (3) Making cost analyses and estimates.
    (4) Laying out and scheduling operations.
    (5) Investigating materials, methods, and construction problems.
    (6) Negotiating with utilities, contractors, and agencies involved.
    (7) Inspecting work in progress and completed work and final acceptance of completed work.

Production. The fabrication and manufacture of structures, equipment, materials, machines, and devices. The work involves surveillance and control of production operations carried out in-house or under contract through the following activities:

    (1) Planning, directing, controlling, inspecting, and evaluating production processes, equipment, and facilities.
    (2) Refining designs to adapt them to production facilities and processes.
    (3) Devising, applying, and monitoring procedures to measure and assure quality.

Scientific and technical information. The processing and dissemination of published and unpublished technical documents and information on work to facilitate their use. The work involves developing and implementing information systems through numerous activities:

    (1) Providing for the selection, acquisition, compilation, exchange, and storage of scientific and technical information.
    (2) Cataloging, abstracting, and indexing information for retrieval and dissemination.
    (3) Providing reference, literature search, and bibliographic services for information users.
    (4) Interpreting, evaluating, and briefing on the significance and relevance of information.
    (5) Disseminating information through briefings, technical publications, and other communications media.
    (6) Classifying and declassifying technical information where use must be controlled in the national interest.

Standards and specifications. The preparation and determination of mandatory and/or voluntary standards including rules, regulations, and codes.

Some of the purposes for which these standards are developed include the following:

    (1) Drafting Government codes and regulations.
    (2) Assuring the acceptability, quality, and/or standardization of products, materials, and parts as required for design, production, purchasing, logistics, and documentation.

The work involves the development of performance criteria, test and inspection methods, and data for the application of the standards to technological products and services.

Regulatory enforcement and licensing. The application and enforcement of laws, rules, regulations, orders, and governmental agreements through inspection, investigation, surveillance, licensing, certification, and similar activities.

The work includes activities such as the following:

    (1) Licensing power plants and radio stations.
    (2) Enforcing plant or animal-disease eradication programs.
    (3) Examining applications for patents.
    (4) Inspecting operations for compliance with requirements.
    (5) Approving utility rates and services.
    (6) Investigating aircraft accidents.
    (7) Allocating radio frequencies.
    (8) Determining compliance with engineering aspects of Federal tax laws.

Teaching and training. The teaching of scientific and technical subjects; the education and training of scientific and technical personnel in-house and through programs consisting of fellowships, traineeships, and training grants; and the development of curriculums, training materials, and aids.

Technical assistance and consulting. The provision of scientific and technical expert assistance, consultation, and advice to other scientific personnel; foreign governments; government agencies at the Federal, State, or local level; private industry; organized groups; and individuals. The work involves advising and promoting application of the results of research and specialized program knowledge.

Other-not elsewhere classified. This category is to be used for the following positions:

    (1) Those with highly specialized activities which are not covered in any of the other categories.
    (2) Those of such generalized nature that a primary function cannot be identified.
    (3) Trainee positions without functional assignments.

Limitations of the Data

The criteria used in this report to classify a Federal white collar employee as a scientist and engineer is by selecting the occupational group or series that is considered to be an S&E series. Although some of the occupational series have been selected as S&E series, employees within these series or groups are not necessarily working as scientists and engineers or on S&E work. On the other hand, there are some occupations that have not been classified as S&E occupations because their occupational series are technical and not professional in nature. For example, patent examiners have not been included as as having S&E occupations, even though some of the employees within this occupation are trained as scientists and particularly engineers. (These employees were included in the statistical table on Federal personnel who held their highest degree in S&Ebut who were employed in non-S&E work).

The information presented in this report is obtained from OPM's CPDF. The CPDF is updated on a quarterly basis by agency submissions. The agencies collect their data from individual notifications of (SF-50-B) and requests for personnel action (SF-52-B). The forms are usually updated by personnel clerks and are subject to misclassification and miscoding. This is particularly true for three of the data elements, primary work activity (functional classification), highest degree field, and highest degree level. Primary work activity data are updated by personnel clerks and unless they refer to position descriptions or contact the employee (or the employee's manager) whose records are being updated, the coding is subject to misclassification. Education data (highest degree field and highest degree level) are collected only on permanent employees at the time of entry into the Federal Service and are not routinely updated by additional educational experience after the time of hiring.

For further information on data quality, survey methodology, and error analyses on the data provided to NSF, refer to the Federal Civilian Workforce Statistics, Occupations of Federal White-Collar and Blue-Collar Workers, issued biennially by OPM.

4. These definitions are used by the Office of Personnel Management to gather information on work activities of Federal scientists and engineers.

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