The following is submitted by Gale Gibson, one of the developers of the OASYS software:


Subj:Re: TSA and OASYS

Date:9/4/2002 10:09:20 AM Pacific Daylight Time

Sent from the Internet




There is a section in every OASYS User Manual entitled "Caveats" which reads as follows:




Throughout the history of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, along with its editions and its supplements, critics and proponents have had much to say concerning the usefulness of its information. The arguments can not be reconciled in this document, but a discussion concerned with the strengths and weaknesses of the DOT and how the OASYS process is affected will hopefully prove useful to OASYS users.




The adage "garbage in, garbage out" signals a cause for concern in the use of the OASYS software. If the occupations extracted from the DOT to compile a job seeker’s work history are incorrectly selected, the resulting skills and abilities profile will inadequately portray the job seeker’s work experience. When an incorrect work experience profile is used in the transferability of the skills process, the occupations selected by OASYS can clearly miss the mark.


When creating a job seeker’s skills and abilities profile, care must be taken to prevent indefensible entries. For example: If a job seeker has demonstrated no work experience where "Direction, Control and Planning Work Activities of Others" is required, can the seeker be seen as having the skills to perform jobs which do require it? The job seeker could possess the skill, but it may not be evident in the job seeker’s work history. Thus, the user is responsible for defending the decision to include it.


When performing a skills transfer operation, all skill and ability variables should be treated as separate and discrete observations relating to an individual job seeker. It is desirable to include all skill and ability variables in the transferability of a job seeker’s skills. All decisions relating to the construction of a job seeker’s skills and abilities profile must be defended by the user.


Nothing in the OASYS software prevents a user from giving a job seeker credit for a particular skill, or denying it. The burden of defensibility is on the user’s shoulders.


The above is also true in creating Job-Bank jobs. Users must carefully select DOT occupations to ensure that they best represent the employer’s job description. The same holds true when assigning the job requirement variables. Be sure what the job actually requires is reflected in the job requirements profile.




Users of any automated system that relies on the DOT should be aware of the limitations imposed by the DOT data. We recommend that the reader of this document study, reflect upon, then study again, the following article:


Elliot, Jerry. "Some Limitations of The Dictionary of Occupational Titles Database." In: Botterbusch, Karl F., Ph.D., Ed. A COMPARISON OF COMPUTERIZED JOB MATCHING SYSTEMS. Materials Development Center, University of Wisconsin-Stout. 1983.


Once studied, this article should prompt occupational information professionals and vocational counselors to further their understanding of the DOT limitations imposed on any automated system that depends on it as a foundation for its process.


We cite the following quotations which we extracted from the article as critical to this discussion.


"The rehabilitation worker should study the classification systems for strengths, weaknesses and most appropriate uses, especially when considering transfer of skill questions."


"The DOT structure and its computer applications may provide more information and save time...[than] using other occupational resources. However, these advantages must be balanced against the requirements for greater knowledge and judgment on the part of the rehabilitation professional."


"...(T)here is no substitute for knowledge of the local labor market."


"Job analysis is essential in checking out the realities of a specific job for a specific seeker, and in verifying the accuracy of DOT data and transfer of skill assumptions for legal purposes."


Even though the admonitions were published long ago, they remain relevant.




OASYS users would do well to heed Dr. Elliott’s admonitions. VERTEK not only agrees with his observations, we feel obligated to warn users that if they depend solely upon the output from OASYS (or, for that matter, any computerized skills transfer process) as the sole basis for decision-making, they risk significant damage to their credibility, to say nothing of the possible jeopardy in which they place the job seeker’s welfare.


So, what does OASYS do to balance or offset the caveats issued previously?


First, we have cited the points in the transfer of skills and job-bank processes where mistakes normally occur, and tried to advise you accordingly. The better you know the DOT, the job seeker, and the job, the better your probability of successful use of OASYS.


Second, we have remained faithful to the technology as outlined in the Revised Handbook For Analyzing Jobs and developed computer processes which operate according to definitions drawn from authoritative sources such as the Code of Federal Regulations.


Third, we have recognized that vocational decision-making is a complex issue, and that you must deal with the complexity through knowledge. OASYS programs are complex; using the tool is not, provided the user has the knowledge and understanding of his/her chosen discipline.


Fourth, whenever there has been an opportunity to make a process clear, we have done so. Wherever there has been an opportunity to monitor the user’s data entry, we have tried to react to it.


Fifth, we have steadfastly remained faithful to our commitment to keep the system current. Over the years, we have continuously developed and enhanced the software for existing users. That commitment will be as strong in the future as it is now.


Finally, we recognize the truth and the challenge promulgated by the Committee on Occupational Classification and Analysis when it said:


"Despite deficiencies in the worker function and worker trait data for the fourth edition DOT, they remain the single most comprehensive set of occupational information anywhere." (Miller, et al., 1980, p.11)


The compelling reason for developing OASYS was not that it is a time saver (it is), NOR was it just because OASYS can provide more and better information for making complex, life-crucial decisions (it can). Rather, it was to provide a foundation upon which knowledge could accumulate and, through the process, we could come closer to dealing with all the dimensions affecting a job seeker’s vocational situation


Feel free to quote all or any part of Caveats, or even paraphrase it's content so long as you remain truthful in what you say.


Gale Gibson


800-220-4409 (phone)

425-454-7264 (fax) (email)

ERISA Disability Lawyer