Critical Position Review

Given the unfolding circumstances caused by COVID-19, which has significantly limited Harvard’s financial resources, this Critical Position Review (CPR) is a new process that is intended to help FAS navigate these uncharted waters together. More specifically, the CPR will enable FAS administrative leaders to bring forward their critical staff needs, as they relate to all requests that call for people and funding.

To this end, each FAS administrative dean will be asked to review all staffing needs relating to people and funding and to follow this new process.

The CPR will be in place until further notice and is designed to help FAS make sound financial and organizational decisions during the current work curtailment period and during the “new normal” that will exist thereafter.

Critical Position Review

When to Use Critical Position Review

This CPR applies to all critical staff requests, which includes the following:

  1. Requesting a classification or reclassification review
  2. Creating, classifying, and posting a new term position
  3. Extending a term appointment
  4. Posting a new requisition            
  5. Continuing to recruit for an existing posted requisition
  6. Making an offer for a posted requisition
  7. Hiring a new LHT

Critical Position Review Guidance

  • The CPR will apply to all open requisitions; all new, existing and recently approved PMF requests; all new, existing and recently approved classification/reclassification reviews.  An existing request is one that is currently in the queue for review by the classification committee or by the PMF process. Recently approved requests and reviews are those that have been approved anytime as of March 1, 2020, or thereafter.
  • Any CPR request that includes any subvention funding will require a CPR review. If your request is supported by subvention funds, please consistently use the term “subvention funding” throughout to describe your request.
  • All CPR requests listed above that are 100% supported by: sponsored, research, faculty start-up funds or by endowment/restricted funds can be determined at the divisional level and do not require CPR review. This does not apply to VERIP CPRs. All VERIP CPRs require review and approval the Ad Dean, Leslie Kirwan, and Dean Gay. 
  • Requests for reclassifications are on hold until further notice, unless the requested reclassifications are part of a planned or existing reorganization that will result in the overall savings of people and/or funds or that will result in a net neutral impact.
  • A specific note regarding existing LHTs: Existing LHTs are eligible for pay continuation through June 28, 2020, under the University’s excused absence policy. Thereafter, each FAS division and unit should assess whether the hours to be worked by existing LHTs beyond June 28, 2020, will constitute a critical need.
  • Requests for equity reviews or salary increases are on hold until further notice. Exceptions will be made for approved new hire offers.
  • Local bonuses, including project bonuses and spot bonuses, are on hold until further notice. This includes all bonuses currently in process that have not already been paid.
  • All add pay actions related to additional work (including, but not limited to, interim coverage pay) should be discussed and approved by the local administrative dean. Decisions made to move forward with add pay requests should be aligned with the principles of critical needs, as described below.
  • A critical request will not be approved simply because a unit or division has locally held available funds. All departments should adhere to the “first dollar principle” for all requests that are approved.
  • Please remember that requests that were part of the FY21 Budget will no longer be given priority, due to changed circumstances.
  • All requests for student hiring (undergraduate/graduate) are NOT included in the CPR process.
  • Only those requests that are deemed critical by the Ad Dean, Leslie Kirwan, and Dean Gay will be allowed to proceed.

Additional CPR Guidance Regarding Sponsored-Related Requests

In addition to justifying the critical and essential nature of the position responsibilities, and determining that isn’t someone else who can perform the work duties, an offer may be made under the following conditions:

  • Assurance must be given that the new employee is able to perform all work on the project during the period of employment
    • Researchers who can do their work remotely and do not need to come to campus may be hired during the period when laboratory-based research is reduced
    • Where work cannot be performed remotely, start dates are far in the future and offers are contingent on FAS being able to undertake the work and still having the funding at that time
  • The hiring decision should take into consideration the sponsor’s terms and conditions, and Harvard policies on compensation.
    • Flexibility given by sponsors to pay researchers during the COVID-19 outbreak crisis should not be extended to new employees.
    • In all cases, PIs should think about the viability of their sponsored funding, FAS cannot backstop these positions with unrestricted startup or other unrestricted funds
    • Additional scrutiny will be given to administrative positions on sponsored awards and will require the approval of FAS Research Administration Services (RAS)

Definition of 'Critical'

An FAS position will be deemed critical when its responsibilities are both (i) essential for continuing key FAS operations during the current work curtailment and (ii) strategic in that it is needed to meet the strategic priorities of the unit and will enable FAS to further its mission of teaching and research, regardless of funding source. When assessing whether a position is critical, each request should be considered both locally and with a lens across the entire division or unit, relative to its impact.

As you make your case for a request that is both essential and strategic, there should be consistency and rigor in your analysis and your request should be credible to colleagues outside of your unit. 

The bar for assessing whether a request is both essential and strategic will be high.

A critical request will not be approved simply because a unit or division has locally held available funds. Please remember that requests that were part of the FY21 Budget will no longer be given priority due to changed circumstances. All departments should adhere to the “first dollar principle” for all requests that are approved.

Critical Position Review Steps

  1. FAS administrative deans (or equivalent leaders) will meet with their department leaders (e.g., executive directors, department administrators, hiring managers) to review all current requests specified above.
  2. Each administrative dean, together with their department leaders, will determine which requests, if any, meet the definition of critical.
  3. For each request considered critical, an FAS Critical Request Form must be completed and confirmed by the administrative dean, explaining why the request is critical.
  4. While HR Consultants will partner with administrative deans throughout this process, all decisions regarding proposed requests will be made by the administrative deans.
  5. Administrative deans will submit the Critical Request Form cover sheet which lists all completed Critical Request Forms, together with the completed forms, directly to FAS HR ( as their critical needs arise.
  6. Leslie Kirwan and Dean Gay will review all submitted critical requests on an ongoing basis and will determine which requests will be allowed to proceed.
  7. FAS HR will notify appropriate ad deans in writing regarding critical request decisions, on an ongoing basis. Administrative deans will inform their department leaders of decisions made.

CPR Forms and Resources