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Assessing ATF Special Agents for Promotion

Assessing ATF Special Agents for Promotion

Since the fall of 1998, HumRRO has been working with ATF to design, develop, and implement several human capital programs. Many efforts were aimed to help ATF respond to a U.S. District Court directive which required that ATF implement a number of systemic changes in its human resource practices (e.g., promotions, training, details and other special assignments, awards, evaluations and discipline). Our work began with a comprehensive job analysis study of the GS 1811 criminal investigator (special agent) positions and continued with the design and development of a rigorous, content-valid assessment processes for promoting special agents to supervisory and managerial special agent positions—which we recently transformed into a virtual assessment process that is administered completely online.

The original promotion process employed traditional assessment centers (ACs) to evaluate candidates for the field supervisor (grade 14) and field manager (grade 15) special agent positions. Using job analysis data and subject matter expert input, we followed a content validation strategy to develop four simulations (e.g., role play, in-basket, analysis exercise) for each promotion process. We also managed and administered the implementation of both ACs, processed all candidate data, conducted extensive data analysis, and generated feedback reports. For well over a decade, we developed new simulations and administered and analyzed both processes on multiple occasions.

In 2012, both to capitalize on advances in assessment technology and create a more efficient assessment process, ATF decided to replace the grade 14 promotional AC with a computer-based process called the Electronic Promotion Assessment System (EPAS). Accordingly, HumRRO partnered with ClicFlic Intelligent Media, Inc. (now HR Avatar) to develop interactive, rich media assessments to measure the critical competencies required to perform successfully as a grade 14 field agent. The battery included a virtual role play, a rich media situational judgment test, and a rich media in-basket office simulation. We used the HumRRO test delivery platform to administer the EPAS in proctored settings for ATF. In addition to the 2012 assessment cycle, ATF again used the EPAS to make promotion decisions in 2014. This work was recognized with a prestigious 2013 HRM Impact Award by SHRM and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)

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