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Assignment of a Non-federal Employee to a Federal Agency

Status of Employee

An employee of a non-Federal organization must be employed by that organization for at least 90 days in a career position before entering into an Intergovernmental Personnel Act agreement. This individual may be given a temporary appointment or be assigned by detail to a Federal agency. It is the Federal agency's responsibility to inform the employee of the applicable Federal employee laws. Federal conflict-of-interest laws and the Federal tort claims statutes also apply.

A non-Federal employee who is assigned to a Federal position, either by detail or appointment, may exercise supervision over Federal employees.

Agencies should not offer permanent appointments to non-Federal employees assigned to them. The Intergovernmental Personnel Act mobility program is not to be used as a mechanism to facilitate career changes.

Non-Federal employees on assignment to a Federal agency by appointment are Federal employees for the duration of that appointment and have all the rights, benefits, and privileges associated with that appointment. This includes eligibility for awards given under the authority of 5 USC chapter 45.

Non-Federal employees on assignment to a Federal agency by detail can receive recognition through letters of appreciation or commendation but are not eligible for awards granted under the incentive awards programs governed by 5 USC chapter 45. A Quality Step Increase (QSI) cannot be approved for non-Federal employees.

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Status of a Non-federal Employee on Detail

Non-Federal employees on detail to Federal agencies remain employees of their permanent organizations for most purposes. Detailees are not eligible to enroll in Federal health benefits programs, group life insurance, or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). An employee assigned by detail to a Federal agency may be assigned to an established, classified position in the Federal agency, or may be given a set of ad hoc, unclassified duties, relevant only to the specific assignment project.

An employee assigned by detail to a classified position in a Federal agency is entitled to earn the basic rate of pay, including any locality payment, which the duties of the assignment position would warrant under the applicable classification and pay provisions of the Federal agency. If the assignee's non-Federal salary is less than the minimum rate of pay for the Federal position, the agency must supplement the salary to make up the difference. Supplemental pay may vary because of changes in the rate of pay of the Federal position. It cannot be paid in advance or in a lump sum and is not conditional on the completion of the full period of the assignment. Supplemental pay may be paid directly to the employee or reimbursed to the non-Federal organization.

If the assignee is detailed to a set of unclassified duties, the assignee continues to be paid directly by the non-Federal organization at a rate of pay based on the assignee's non-Federal job. The Federal agency may agree to reimburse the non-Federal organization for all, some, or none of the costs of the assignment.

Detailees will usually have the same workweek and hours of duty as Federal employees in the agency to which they are assigned. However, if the workweek of the permanent employer is, by law or local ordinance, shorter than the Federal workweek, the employee's workweek should be adjusted as needed. Detailees are eligible to participate in alternative work schedule arrangements of the Federal agency to which they are assigned.

Detailees are covered under their permanent employer's leave system. The assignment agreement will specify how the permanent employer will be notified of leave taken and how the use of leave will be approved. The agreement will also spell out what holidays will be observed by the assignee.

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Status of a Non-federal Employee Receiving a Federal Appointment

By statute, a non-Federal employee may be given an excepted appointment for two years without regard to the provisions governing appointment in the competitive service. This appointment may be extended for not more than an additional two years. Agencies should establish qualification requirements for assignment positions in accordance with 5 CFR part 302, which governs employment in the excepted service.

The Intergovernmental Personnel Act noncompetitive appointment authority provisions of 5 USC section 3174 apply only to positions in the competitive service. In order to appoint a non-Federal Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignee to an SES position, an agency must first obtain an SES limited term appointment authority from the Office of Personnel Management. However, only SES General positions may be filled by limited appointment, i.e., a non-Federal employee cannot be given a limited term appointment to an SES Career Reserved position. Requests for allocation of an SES limited term appointment authority for non-Federal Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignees should be directed to the Assistant Director, Office of Executive Resources, Room 6484, Office of Personnel Management, 1900 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20415-0001.

Normally, a non-Federal employee is appointed at the minimum rate of the grade. However, if an agency wants to pay an advanced step rate for a position at GS-11 through GS-15 based upon superior qualifications of the applicant, it may do so.

Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignees appointed for more than one year are eligible for within-grade increases. They are entitled to cost-of-living allowances and other pay differentials, and are allowed to accumulate and use leave to the same extent as other Federal employees. However, employees appointed to successive temporary appointments of one year or less may not earn a within-grade increase, even if the time under the successive temporary appointments exceeds one year.

A non-Federal employee is not eligible to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program unless his or her Federal appointment results in the loss of coverage under the non-Federal health benefits system. In such a case, the appointee may enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Non-Federal employees given appointments are not covered by any retirement system for Federal employees or by the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program

Questions or comments regarding this program my be submitted by calling (202) 606-2820, or email

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Last Updated: 09/2002