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Desk Audits
Women working outside
The purpose of a desk or job audit (named a desk audit in Oregon state service) is to find out what a worker does, how and why a worker performs their duties and to verify the accuracy of a position description. A desk audit involves observing an employee performing their assigned duties or by interviewing an employee about their duties. 
Most employees enjoy talking about their jobs, but are nervous if they think the job audit can have a direct result on how their job is classified and how they are paid. Carefully planning and conducting a desk audit is critical to receiving good information.

Keys to a successful desk audit: articulate questions, listen, think analytically, discretely control and direct conversation and establish cooperative and friendly relationships.

Before a Desk Audit
  • Review any past audits and the current position description. If there is no change in duties, a desk audit is necessary only to ensure the employee is performing duties listed on the position description.
  • Prepare open-ended interview questions that cover position purpose, major responsibilities, major challenges, and knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform the duties.  
  • Contact the supervisor to gain permission to visit the work site and find out the best time so operations are not adversely affected.

During a Desk Audit
  • Meet with the employee in an area free from distraction. Explain the purpose of a desk audit and the classification process.
  • Ask prepared questions of the employee and write down the employee’s responses.  
  • While at the worksite, observe how the work is accomplished. Look at the equipment, forms and systems used and how they are used to perform duties.
  • Document the audit by recording important facts, such as the date, agency, unit, employee’s name, position, information gathered about the work and examples that illustrate points raised.

After a Desk Audit
  • Review and categorize the audit notes and write a summary report about the work.
  • Confirm the facts as necessary with the supervisor.
  • Write or make updates to the position description.
  • Ensure the classification, category of service, FLSA status and service type designation are correct.
  • Redraft the organization chart if necessary.
  • If the updated position description falls into a different classification, pursue reclassification or remove duties. If duties are removed, update the position description.

Sample Questions
Position Purpose – Ask one or more of the following:
  • What is your position designed to accomplish?  Or, what are the products of your position?
  • Briefly describe the main purpose of your position?
  • What is the essential reason for your position?
  • What are you paid to accomplish for the State?
Major Responsibilities – Ask if appropriate:
  • How does your position fit within the structure of the State of Oregon? (Review the organization chart and probe any unusual aspects of the job.)
  • What major functions do you perform and why?
  • On what, specifically, do you spend most of your time and why?
  • If the position has supervisory responsibilities, what are the major responsibilities of the subordinate employees?
  • What is the nature of your internal contacts?  Whom do you contact and what is the frequency and purpose?  Repeat the question for external contacts.
  • What aspects of your job require creativity and to what extent?
  • What decisions can you make without your supervisor’s approval?
  • On what matters must you refer to others or gain approval before acting?
Major Challenges – Ask one or more of the following:
  • What is the toughest part of your position?
  • What about your position really makes you think?
  • What are your biggest problems with the job?
  • What is the worse mistake you could make in the job?  What are the consequences?
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
  • In your opinion, what do you need to know in order to do your work at an acceptable level?
  • What kinds of abilities and skills are required to do your job?
  • What is your background experience and education? Do your colleagues have similar backgrounds?