​For Administrators - Onboarding New Staff
Position Designation Tool vs. Emergency Tier Designation

The Position Designation Tool (PDT) is not to be confused with the Emergency Tier Designation (ETD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

In summary, the Position Description determines the correct background investigation for a position in the Federal Government. An individual’s Position Description is determined by the Position Designation Tool (PDT), which must be filled out by a federal employee. 

On the other hand, the ETD determines the activities and functions authorized by Institutes, Centers and Offices (ICOs) Management, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that one can perform during emergency conditions. There are ETD Coordinators that have been identified by Executive Officers (EOs) within each ICO. Please read below for more information on the ETD.

What is Emergency Tier Designation (ETD)?

NIH has a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) in place that is designed to ensure maintenance of NIH mission essential functions while also protecting the health and safety of NIH employees, patients and visitors. Once someone becomes an NIH employee or contractor, all must be assigned to a specific one of the following three tiers, based on the activities and functions performed that support the NIH/ICO mission and if the employee has an approved HHS Workplace Flexibilities Agreement (WFA):
1.     Tier 1 – Emergency Employees (Mission Essential)
2.     Tier 2 – Non-Emergency/Teleworker (Mission Critical)
3.     Tier 3 – Non-Emergency/Non-Teleworker (Other Mission Services and Support)

ETDs are made by ICO Management and have been developed based on guidelines from OPM and the principles articulated in Federal Continuity Directives 1 and 2, as amended. ETDs will be used when there are emergency conditions affecting the employee's official duty station and would be authorized by the OPM, HHS and the NIH. ETDs only apply to emergency situations at the employee's official duty station. If there is an emergency at another location not impacting the employee, the employee would continue their normal duties at their official duty station.

The EOs of each ICO have identified ETD Coordinators who will serve as point of contacts to effectively implement the ETD program within their ICO. A listing of all ETD Coordinators can be found in the Emergency Preparedness and Continuity of Operations section of the NIH Administrative Hub via http://adminhub.nih.gov.

For more information on ETDs, please view this guideline.

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