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Essential Competencies


(The Specifications Branch duties for the GS-7 through GS-11 are almost identical. The main difference is in the degree of supervision and the complexity of the projects. The GS-11 does have one aspect the other two grades do not, that being formal specification training.)

I.Specification Writing

Description: This competency includes writing, editing, and reviewing construction specifications and assisting others in the preparation of specifications. It also includes preparation of the legal portion of project manuals.

A. Writing/Editing
1. Construction terminology
2. Specification language
3. Construction specification format
4. Legal terminology
5. Engineering terminology

B. Contract Principles
1. Procedures
2. Federal acquisition regulations

C. Construction
1. Construction techniques
2. Construction practices

D. Communication
1. Resolving differences
2. Public speaking
3. Interpersonal

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Thorough knowledge of construction specifications, especially the systems, methods, formats, and classifications developed by The Construction Specifications

Institute (CSI) that form the basis of the National Park Service project manuals. Knowledge must be equivalent to that of a CSI Certified Construction Specifier

Broad technical knowledge of all varieties of architectural, landscape architecture, and engineering disciplines used in the construction of highly complex facilities in order to provide complete, articulate, accurate, and current information regarding project manuals and specifications writing

Extensive knowledge of Federal Acquisition Regulations, Department of Interior Acquisition Regulations, Davis Bacon and Related Acts wage rate requirements, and Department of Interior Regional Solicitor's legal interpretation of Government contract law, and numerous other regulatory requirements in order to interpret current regulations and advise and guide in-house architects and engineers, construction personnel, managers, and private A/E firm personnel regarding project specific specifications and certain aspects of Government contracting procedures

High level of expertise in writing and editing, developing and maintaining uniform writing style and format standards, organizing written material, and maintaining a complete command of research methods to develop authoritative information on architectural and engineering practices, Government Contracting procedures, and agency policies

Knowledge of trade associations, their role in construction industry, and how they relate to various design and construction disciplines. Familiarity with trade association literature as a means of maintaining knowledge of latest construction practices

Knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of other DSC organizations involved in preparing and administering construction contracts, including the team branches of design and construction, and the Branch of Construction Contracts. Thorough understanding of the roles of the Project Supervisor and Contracting Officer in completing the construction project

Ability to effectively communicate orally in situations ranging from lecturing to audiences of professionals to informally training personnel new to specification writing


(Specifications Development Branch staff must be at the full performance level (GS-11/12) in the field of their technical discipline (Engineering, Architecture, or Landscape Architecture), including extensive experience with project specifications and drawings.)

Development and Preparation of Guide Specifications

Description: This competency requires the knowledge and ability to develop and prepare NPS Guide Specifications in accordance with the principles, values, and guidelines set forth by the Branch of Specifications Development.

I. Development and Preparation of Guide Specifications.

A. Sustainable products and construction techniques.
B. Salient characteristics.
C. Industry reference standards.
D. Eco-region systems, durability, and maintenance costs.
E. New technologies and products.
F. Metric conversion.
G. Federal and state regulations.
H. ADA requirements.

I. Safety issues.

II. Consistent Format and Language of Guide Specifications.

A. Consistency between related guide specifications.
B. Clear, correct, complete, and concise specifications language.
C. Consistent format.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Same as developmental level, plus:

Knowledge of current NPS Guide Specifications and ability to research limitations and deficiencies with user groups

Knowledge of sustainable products and construction techniques including cradle to grave issues, environmentally responsible building products, and life cycle costs

Knowledge and ability to identify and specify salient characteristics

Knowledge and skill to research and specify current industry reference standards

Ability to specify product selection options based on eco-region systems, durability, and maintenance costs

Knowledge to specify execution of work techniques based on eco-region systems

Knowledge and ability to research and promote the use of new construction technologies and products

Knowledge of metric conversion guidelines and requirements

Knowledge of federal, state, and ADA safety regulations and issues

Knowledge, skill, and ability to write clear, correct, complete, and concise guide specifications as recommended in the Construction Specifications Institute's "Manual of Practice"

Knowledge, skill, and ability to maintain consistency between related guide specifications and to write clear and concise notes to designer/specifier; cover sheets, including usage and definitions; and drawing coordination requirements, including Standard Details


Description: This competency includes the skill and ability to initiate and maintain communication during the development of new and revised NPS Guide Specifications.

I. Communication

A. Communication with appropriate NPS personnel.
B. Communication with appropriate representatives of the private sector.
C. Communication and participation with Specifications Development Branch personnel.
D. Resolving differences and reaching consensus.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Same as developmental level, plus:

Skill and ability to initiate and maintain communication with appropriate DSC technical professionals, contract specialists, and key Regional and Park personnel

Knowledge and ability to initiate and maintain communication with representatives of the private sector associated with new product development; state-of-the-art construction techniques; and testing or regulating associations, including general contractors and A&E firms

Ability to communicate clearly and effectively with Specifications Development Branch staff and to participate in Specifications Development "Team" meetings

Ability and skill to participate in resolving differences and reaching consensus as to the technical content of the guide specifications


Description: This competency requires the skills to accurately document the NPS Guide Specifications development process.

I. Documentation

A. Record of the major factors and events affecting the development of the guide specifications.
B. Information sources used during development of the guide specifications.
C. Record of the review process.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Same as developmental level, plus:

Ability and skill to maintain a chronological record of the major factors and events affecting the development of the guide specifications

Ability and skill to maintain an accurate list of information sources used during development of the guide specifications, including personal contacts, and the influence of the information source on the guide specifications

Ability and skill to organize and maintain an accurate list of reviewers, review comments, and resolutions

National Park Service
Training and Development Division
Essential Competencies

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