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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

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Federal Employment Statistics

Personnel Documentation

Personnel Documentation

Frequently Asked Questions

|| Personnel Actions || Creditable Service For Leave Accrual || Personnel Records ||

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Personnel Actions FAQs

Question Why does the Office of Personnel Management have so many rules for processing personnel actions?

Answer Two reasons.

  1. To make sure important items in your employment history are documented consistently.  This ensures your rights and benefits as a Federal employee are protected over time, no matter where in Government you work.

  2. To collect information on human resources activities Governmentwide.  The Office of Personnel Management, Office of Management and Budget, Congress and others use this information to manage the Federal workforce.

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Question I'm going to take a job in another agency, do I have to resign from my current Federal job?

Answer No.  Your new agency should contact your current agency to let them know when you'll be moving to your new civil service job.  Once your current agency has proof you've been hired, the Human Resources Office should process a Termination Appointment In (new agency).  This way you should avoid unintentional breaks in service.

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Question I'm taking discontinued service retirement but my Standard Form 50 doesn't show retirement as the personnel action.  Is my Form 50 wrong?

Answer No. There isn't any official Discontinued Service Retirement action.  These actions are processed as separations.  The circumstances of the separation are what make you eligible for Discontinued Service Retirement.  For more information on Discontinued Service Retirement, refer to Chapter 44 of the CSRS and FERS Handbook PDF File [118KB].

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Creditable Service For Leave Accrual FAQs     Back to Top

Question What kind of work counts toward earning 6 or 8 hours of annual leave?

Answer In general, the following kinds of work count toward the 3 years you need to earn 6 hours of annual leave per pay period and the 15 years you need to earn 8 hours.

  • Most civilian Federal employment (jobs where you were hired under a Federal appointment).
  • Active duty military service that ended under honorable conditions, but there are significant reductions in the credit that you get if you retired from the military.
  • Active duty in the National Guard when that service was under a call by the President or Secretary of Defense.  State service under a call by the Governor or a designee doesn't count.
  • VISTA and Peace Corps volunteer service.
  • Some employment under Defense or Coast Guard Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities.  

There are often special conditions that determine whether particular work counts so remember this list only covers the broad categories.  Contact your Human Resources Office if you have a question about your service.  Chapter 6 of The Guide to Processing Personnel Actions PDF File [145KB] has more detailed guidance on creditable service for leave accrual.

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Question Is my time for leave purposes the same as my time for retirement and RIF?

Answer Not necessarily.  For many employees, they are the same but the laws covering each area are slightly different.  You can read about each area on our web site.  There is material on leave PDF File [145KB], reduction-in-force and retirement.  If you have questions about your specific situation, contact your Human Resources Office.

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Question I'm retired military.  Does that make a difference?

Answer Yes.  Section 6303 of title 5 United States Code restricts the amount of leave accrual credit military retirees receive for their active duty service.  Retirees get credit only for service during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized.  Under this law, wars have to have been declared by Congress so the last war was World War II.  The only exemptions are for those whose retirement was based on disability caused by armed conflict and those who become eligible for retirement while they're civilian employees.

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Question Why would my service computation data for leave change when I'm still employed?

Answer There are several possible reasons.

  • Leave Without Pay.  You get credit for 6 months of leave without pay in a year.  Any nonpay time over that doesn't count.  When you return to duty, your SCD changes to eliminate credit for that additional nonpay time.
  • Intermittent Work.  If you work on an intermittent work schedule, you only get credit for the days you actually work.  Since you don't earn leave while you're an intermittent, your SCD doesn't change every time you work.  When you move into a full time or part time schedule, your SCD changes to credit the days you worked so you'll earn the right amount of leave.
  • Error.  If your SCD is wrong, your current employer has to correct it.

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Personnel Records FAQs    Back to Top

Question What goes in my Official Personnel Folder?

Answer Your Official Personnel Folder contains records the Government needs to make accurate employment decisions throughout your Federal career.

These documents:

  • Show your Federal appointment was valid (Examples: the Appointment Affidavit; the Declaration for Federal Employment).
  • Verify your military service credit for leave, reduction-in-force, or retirement (Examples: the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty; the Military Service Deposit Election).
  • Establish your employment history - your grades, occupations and pay (Example: the Standard Form 50, Notification of Personnel Action).
  • Record your choices under Federal benefits programs (Examples: the Health Benefits Registration Form; the Designation of Beneficiary under the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance Program).

Check Chapter 3 of The Guide to Personnel Recordkeeping PDF File [588KB] for more detailed information on what goes into the Official Personnel Folder.

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Question If something's not in my Official Personnel Folder, where would it be?

Answer Agencies keep documents in a number of employment-related files besides the Official Personnel Folder.  There are:

  • Case files - containing working papers that led to a decision or action, like merit promotion case files and adverse action case files.
  • Medical files - containing employment-related medical information, like health unit files and occupational medical records.  Once an employee leaves Federal service, any long-term occupational medical records are put in an Employee Medical Folder and sent to the National Personnel Records Center.
  • Security files - containing documents used to grant security clearances.
  • Performance files - containing information used to evaluate employees' work, like performance plans and appraisals.  

These files are generally retained in the agency that created them.  The National Archives and Records Administration publishes records schedules that describe various files and how long agencies are to keep them.  Refer to General Records Schedule 1 for information on personnel files.  To review the Schedule, go to

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Question How can I get a copy of my Official Personnel Folder?

Answer If you're currently a Federal employee, contact your Human Resources Office.

If you're no longer working for the Government, write to:    

National Personnel Records Center
Civilian Personnel Records
111 Winnebago Street
St. Louis, MO 63118-4126
FAX: 314-801-9270

For more information on contacting the National Personnel Records Center, go to .

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Question Who can look at the records in my Official Personnel Folder?

Answer You.  Anyone you designate.  Government officials who need to see the records to do their jobs.  There are a limited number of special situations where others can see information from your personnel records.  These situations are described in routine uses under the Privacy Act System of Records Notice covering the Official Personnel Folder.

For more information on the Privacy Act and the Office of Personnel Management's records systems under the Act, visit Privacy Act Information.

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Question What should I do if my records are wrong?

Answer If you disagree with the action that was taken rather than the way it was documented, then it's not a case where the records are wrong.  In these cases, you have to file a grievance or appeal within the required time limits.  If the records don't document what actually happened, then the records are wrong.  If you're still employed, you should contact your Human Resources Office.  If you're no longer employed, write to:

Assistant Director for Workforce Information 
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
1900 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20415-6000

Include enough information to:

  • identify the record (your name and social security number, the name and date of the record).
  • explain why you think it's wrong, including any evidence supporting your position.
  • show how you would correct the record.

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