Description: http://www.fws.gov/policy/041fw4_files/image001.gif041 FW 4, Uniforms


FWM#:     339 (new)
Date:         June 25, 1999
Series:       Service Image
Part 041:   Emblems
Originating Office: Division of Visitor Services and Communications


4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter establishes policies, procedures, and responsibilities for acquiring, wearing, maintaining, and disposing of the official Fish and Wildlife Service uniform, and authorizes payment of uniform allowances.

4.2 To whom does this chapter apply? This chapter applies to all employees required to own and wear the official uniform, their supervisors, and those with administrative responsibilities relative to the uniform program.

4.3 Why is the uniform worn? The uniform identifies employees as Service representatives.

4.4 What are the objectives of this program? The objectives of the uniform program are to:

A. Identify employees as our representatives.

B. Enhance employee and public pride and to project an image of the organization.

C. Provide employees with functional, durable, and comfortable components that are appropriate for assigned duties and area climates while promoting employee safety.

D. Assure the highest possible degree of consistency in uniform appearance that is commensurate with the diversity of tasks and climates confronting us.

E. Enhance and clearly identify the role of our employees in such activities as public assistance, natural resource management, and law enforcement.

F. Provide employees a supply system for uniforms that ensures financial accountability and controls, is cost effective, and ensures quality uniforms with timely delivery.

4.5 Under what authorities may we issue this chapter?

A. Federal Employees Uniform Allowance Act, as amended (Pub. L. 83-763).

B. Federal Salary and Fringe Benefits Act, as amended (Pub. L. 89-504).

C. Great Dismal Swamp NWR Act, as amended (Pub. L. 96-291).

D. 5 U.S.C. 5901, 5902, 5903, and 7903.

E. Executive Order 11609, which transferred responsibility for carrying out the Federal Employees Uniform Act from OMB to the U.S. Civil Service Commission (Office of Personnel Management) effective October 21, 1971.

F. Comptroller General Decision B-174629, January 31, 1972.

G. Part 334 DM 2; Part 370 DM 594.

4.6 What are the responsibilities of wearers of uniforms and who ensures compliance to standards?

A. Employees. Proper wearing of the uniform and proper conduct while in uniform are conditions of employment for all uniformed employees. You must have all required uniform items, wear them to approved standards, and maintain professional appearance and conduct while in uniform.

B. Supervisors. Supervisors are the key to the uniform program. They will ensure compliance with this policy, regularly evaluate subordinates, provide counseling or recommend actions for violation of uniform standards, and set an example through their own appearance in uniform.

C. Service Uniform Committee. The coordinator and seven regional representatives comprise the Service Uniform Committee. The members of the committee elect a chairperson. Ideally, composition of the committee should reflect all program areas that have uniformed employees. The Regional Director/Director will select members to serve on the committee for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 6 years.

(1) Voting members of the committee are the seven regional representatives and the coordinator. A quorum will constitute five voting members.

(2) The committee will:

(a) Represent uniformed employees;

(b) Coordinate and manage the uniform program;

(c) Serve as a primary advisor to the Director;

(d) Review requests for exception from the standard uniform policies;

(e) Recommend procedures and forward them to the Director for consideration and approval; and

(f) Monitor the program and formulate recommendations for changes.

D. Uniform Committee Chairperson. The chairperson, as the speaker for the committee, will keep the Directorate informed of committee activities. Also, the chair facilitates committee meetings and acts as liaison with the Service Uniform Coordinator to ensure that he/she carries out recommendations.

E. Service Uniform Coordinator. The Director selects the coordinator, who also serves as the contracting officer technical representative (COTR). He/she is responsible for the overall coordination of the uniform program and is the liaison between employees and the uniform contractor. The coordinator will:

(1) Receive comments, criticisms, and suggestions from the committee members;

(2) Disseminate current uniform information to committee members;

(3) Resolve problems encountered by employees in dealing with the uniform contractor;

(4) Develop criteria and specifications for new items for review by the committee;

(5) Schedule committee meetings; and

(6) Monitor program costs.

F. Uniform Committee Representatives. Committee members should wear uniforms. The Regional representative will:

(1) Ensure that all employees in the Region are fully informed of current uniform policies;

(2) Serve as an advisor to the Regional Director on uniform matters;

(3) Receive and respond to comments and complaints regarding the program; and

(4) Serve as a member of the committee.

4.7 What are the criteria for wearing the uniform?

A. Who will wear the uniform? Supervisors may authorize employees in any program area to wear the uniform when it will enhance and clearly identify their role as Service employees in such activities as natural resource management, public outreach/assistance, law enforcement, etc.

(1) Required -- All Duty. To achieve our uniform program objectives, field station employees at national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries and wildlife inspectors at wildlife inspection stations, must wear the uniform.

(2) Required or Authorized -- Select Duty. At their discretion, the Director, Assistant Directors, Regional Directors and/or project leaders/supervisors can approve and/or require all other employees not addressed in 4.7A(1) to wear the uniform if determined to assist in attaining our uniform program objectives. The project leader/supervisor or higher will make the determination to approve (option to wear left to the employee) or require (non-optional) wearing the uniform on an office-by-office or employee-by-employee basis. This determination will identify at what times and under what conditions the uniform is appropriate and/or required. We anticipate that at many stations not identified in 4.7A(1), some employees will be required to wear the uniform and others will not.

(3) Balancing Public Contact with Cost. We base the need to wear the uniform on meeting our uniform program objectives, not to defray the cost of employee clothing. We decide whether or not to place an employee in uniform largely on the type and extent of public contact expected by the position. It has little to do with your status (permanent full time, intermittent, temporary/seasonal). The project leader/supervisor must ensure that we appropriately balance uniform program objectives with cost effectiveness, component utilization, and equity to employees within the station and across the Nation. Authorizations to purchase uniform components will be commensurate with the amount of time the employee is in uniform. Employees will purchase and own different uniform wardrobes based on the needs at particular stations and positions.

(4) Volunteers and Uniforms. We prohibit volunteers from purchasing or wearing uniform components or dressing in a manner that attempts to duplicate the appearance of our uniform. Volunteers must be easily recognizable by the public and wear a uniform that distinguishes them from employees (see 150 FW 3).

(5) Exceptions. A physician's written recommendation must support exceptions to wearing the complete uniform or any component of the standard uniform for medical reasons. The project leader/supervisor and the Regional Director must approve the exception. The Regional Director must recommend and the Director must approve all other exceptions for employees identified in 4.7A(1). The affected field station will retain a copy of each exception and forward one copy to the Regional Uniform Committee representative.

B. When is the uniform worn? Except as specified below, the uniform will be the only acceptable dress while on duty status (see 4.7A(1) and (2)). All employees required to wear the uniform will do so in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.

(1) Exceptions -- Function. Exceptions for not wearing the uniform depend on factors of weather, roughness of duty, degree of public contact, safety, and other practical considerations. Wear the uniform complete and without substitutions, additions, or omissions, except that you may substitute or add approved safety and foul weather gear as needed. Each project leader/supervisor will set fair and equal standards for exceptions.  For example: If you are in remote/wilderness situation (exposed to weather/climate extremes) for extended periods where the chance of meeting the public is low or negligible, we can authorize non-uniform dress for health and safety purposes. If, however, the intent is for you to contact the public, you can wear the uniform supplemented with safety and foul weather items as needed. Employees engaged in duty where safety is a factor, such as prescribed burning, wildfire suppression or aircraft operation, are exempt.

(2) Exceptions -- Style. If wearing the uniform would be inappropriate or unwise, the project leader/supervisor may temporarily waive the uniform requirement and you must wear clothing appropriate for the duty (e.g., official Service appearance in court or similar proceeding, Regional or Headquarters Office appearances, or other special assignments where wearing the uniform would be counterproductive to uniform program objectives).

(3) Off-Duty Wear. You may not wear the uniform or any component while in a non-duty status. Wearing the uniform to and from work is permissible.

C. Non-uniform Items.

(1) We authorize the wearing of personal protective clothing where appropriate (see 4.7B(1) and 4.11F). The station purchases personal protective gear. Such items are Government property.

(2) We provide the name disk and identification pin to employees for wear with civilian apparel.

4.8 Uniform.

A. Uniform Classes. There are four classes of our uniform: Class A (a blue blazer for Directorate members only); Class B (standard uniform); Class C (field uniform); and Class D (special purpose uniform components, such as the ash gray and blue polo shirts).

(1) The required component for the Class A uniform is the blue blazer worn with appropriate civilian clothing.

(2) The required components of the Class B (standard uniform) are: skirt/trousers, shirt (regular or polo (tan only)), belt, shoes/boots, and nameplate. Exhibit 1 lists optional components.

(3) Staff involved in maintenance and field activities wear the Class C (field) uniform. The required components of this uniform are: trousers/jeans, shirt (regular or polo (tan only)), belt, shoes/boots, and nameplate or cloth name tag. Exhibit 1 lists optional components.

(4) When identified as our representative and the standard uniform is not appropriate, you should wear either appropriate civilian attire with name disk or ID pin or the uniform polo shirt (ash grey or blue only) with or without the nameplate.

(5) Special purpose components have unique characteristics used for atypical duty. Under no condition will you wear any component of the standard or field uniform in lieu of, or in addition to, special purpose safety clothing when engaged in fire management or flight activities.

(a) Examples of activities requiring special purpose uniforms include oil spill investigations, firefighting assignments, flight activities, and special law enforcement assignments where identity as our employee is important. Work in extreme climatic conditions may necessitate the wearing of special purpose components.

(b) The project leader/supervisor will purchase these components through the authorized uniform supplier with station funds and will not charge them to an employee's uniform allowance. Special purpose components are Government property.

B. Required Uniform Badges and Insignia.

(1) Service, youth activities, refuge officer law enforcement patches, nameplates/cloth nametags and badges are the only standard insignia currently approved for wear on our uniform. You may not wear any unauthorized patches or insignia on the uniform.

(2) You may not reproduce our official emblem or insignia without authorization by the Director. Except as specifically authorized by the Director, do not use the emblem on non-uniform clothing (such as T-shirts and sweatshirts). Use of the emblem on accessories such as pins, tie tacks, belt buckles and on small gift items like coffee mugs, will be available only through the Office of Public Affairs. By law, you may not use the emblem on items intended for sale without authorization from the Department of the Interior (see 041 FW 2).

(3) Wear only authorized nameplates/cloth nametags with the uniform as personal identification. We will provide cloth nametags sewn on appropriate garments to maintenance employees who are authorized to wear the uniform. We will furnish all other uniformed employees two nameplates purchased with station funds and provided through the authorized supplier.

(a) The supplier provides cloth nametags automatically to maintenance employees when so indicated on the order form. The cloth nametag will reflect the employee's first initial or first name and last name on all maintenance personnel shirts, coveralls, and work jackets.

(b) Wear the nameplate centered 6mm (1/4") above the right pocket flap on standard uniform shirts. It is optional on the polo shirt, but if worn, locate the nameplate on the right side at a point level with a point 1/4" above our logo on the opposite side.

(4) We issue badges to authorized law enforcement officers. The badges represent authority to enforce laws relating to the Service. Wear law enforcement badges with the standard uniform at all times except when specific duties would present a safety hazard. The Regional Offices will purchase metal badges and Headquarters will purchase cloth badges. Monitoring and control of the badges are responsibilities of the issuing office [see 29 AM 2.5H(4)). Wear the metal badge centered above the left front pocket and pinned through the special badge holder provided on shirts and outerwear garments. Wear cloth LE badges in lieu of metal badges on outer garments. Badges are Government property; return them to the issuing office upon the employees' termination or loss of enforcement authority.

(5) Employees may wear length-of-service and distinguished, meritorious, and superior service awards.

4.9 What are our standards for appearance and uniformity? Maintain all clothing apparel and accessories in good repair and in a clean, neat condition. Personal appearance should be as neat and presentable as conditions and job duties permit.

4.10 How do I acquire a uniform?

A. Requirements. You must purchase the components for the standard uniform (see 4.12A).

B. Uniform Specifications. We will specify all uniform components as to color and construction unless otherwise stated. The Service Uniform Coordinator will retain specifications for the major uniform components and these are available upon request.

4.11 Who receives a uniform allowance and how is it used? Directorate members are exempt from the uniform allowance and must purchase uniform components with available funds. For all other authorized employees, we provide a uniform allowance to help defray the cost of wearing a uniform. It will not cover the total cost of all uniform items. Cleaning, upkeep, and tailoring for personal preference are your responsibilities.

A. Only for Employee Authorized. Only the employee authorized an allowance amount may purchase a uniform. Since we purchase uniforms with Government funds and unexpended allowances reduce net uniform program cost, you may not order uniform items for other persons.

B. Not Required to Expend Full Amount. You do not need to expend the full amount of your allowance. Unexpended allowances reduce our costs. Unexpended funds do not revert to the contractor. You must obtain uniform components sufficient to meet the standards contained in this guideline, but we do not expect you to expend allowances unnecessarily. We have structured replacement allowance levels to provide adequate funds for most employees, but it also is understood that others, particularly those working indoors or who wear the uniform intermittently, will not always need the full amount allowed. In such instances, supervisors may reduce the amount of your yearly replacement allowance.

C. Allowance Authorization. Within 30 days of entry on duty, the project leader/supervisor must authorize initial uniform allowances for each of her/his employees required to wear the uniform. Project leaders/supervisors will accomplish this authorization by completing FWS Form 3-2100 (Uniform Allowance Authorization and Change Form). Complete one form per employee. Forward the original of this form to the uniform contractor, a copy to the employee, and retain a copy for the files. Also, complete this form when we:

(1) Increase or decrease an employee's uniform allowance amount;

(2) Transfer the employee to another duty station; or

(3) Terminate an employee's employment or authorization to wear the uniform.

D. Ordering Procedures. When you receive approval to place orders, you may place an order using the Uniform Order Form. The uniform vendor provides these forms to each organization. If you need a copy of the form, contact your Service Uniform Committee regional representative. Employees newly authorized to wear the uniform will place orders within 30 days after reporting for duty. The Regional Director, project leader, or supervisor may require prior approval of all order forms before forwarding to the uniform contractor. If the amount of the order exceeds the authorized allowance, you must submit personal funds for the extra amount with the order.

(1) The project leader/supervisor must approve special requests for expedited delivery of orders and provide a justification with the order.

(2) You must check the quality and fit of uniform items before washing or wearing. If there is a problem with an item, return it to the uniform contractor within 10 days of receipt with an explanation of the problem. Refer continual or significant complaints of poor quality or prolonged back orders to the Service Uniform Coordinator through the Regional Uniform Committee Representative.

E. Payment Procedures. The Service Uniform Coordinator authorizes payment to the contractor for orders within the authorized uniform allowance amount from the centralized uniform account. We use organization codes and authorized subactivity numbers for funding the central uniform account; tracking all items ordered, shipped and received; and for meeting historical and reporting requirements. The Service Uniform Coordinator processes bi-monthly invoices and randomly verifies receipt of orders by field stations.

F. Special Purpose Items Procedures. We use station funds to purchase Class D special purpose items. This includes the ash gray and blue polo shirts and items used for personal protection (e.g., safety shoes/boots, hip boots or waders, hard hats, floatation jackets, arctic style parkas, snowmobile suits or other special cold weather clothing, etc.). These items are Government property.

G. Employee Transfer. If you transfer to a duty station where your uniform allowance remains in effect, both former and new supervisors will submit FWS Form 3-2100 to the uniform contractor indicating your transfer and new station information. The contractor will report uniform purchases to the new duty station. If you transfer to a duty station where your uniform allowance is NOT in effect (i.e., the Regional Office), only the supervisor at your previous duty station needs to submit the form to the contractor.

4.12 What is the initial allowance? In accordance with Public Law 96-291, initial allowance will not exceed $400.

A. Who qualifies for the initial allowance? If you are authorized to wear the uniform, you must order the components for the standard uniform. The project leader/supervision will submit FWS Form 3-2100 to the authorized supplier for all new employees immediately upon appointment, including employees in their probationary period. If there is doubt regarding continued employment, suspend the uniform requirement until the doubt is resolved. Employees under the following situations may qualify for the initial allowance.

(1) Permanent full-time employees.

(2) Newly appointed employees.

(a) Employees transferred from a no-uniform-required position to a uniform-required position.

(b) Employees occupying positions that have been exempt from the uniform requirement but later determined to require a uniform.

(c) Employees who transfer from another agency that required a uniform and who were paid an allowance for the same period by that agency.

(3) Reinstated employees. If you possess all or part of a uniform obtained from previous employment with us, you may still be eligible for an initial allowance. The project leader/supervisor will determine your initial or replacement allowance.

(4) Permanent part-time and intermittent employees. These employees may receive the maximum uniform allowance. The project leader/supervisor will determine the appropriate allowance and uniform requirements for each individual in this category.

(5) Temporary or seasonal employees. We do not generally authorize these employees a uniform allowance. The project leader/supervisor will determine the appropriate allowance and uniform requirements for each individual in this category.

B. Period Covered by Allowance. The allowance period begins on the date we authorize you to wear the uniform and continues to the end of the fiscal year.

4.13 What is the replacement allowance and who receives it? The replacement allowance cannot exceed $300. If you received an initial allowance, we will authorize a replacement allowance at the beginning of the new fiscal year; however, this does not mean that you will automatically receive the maximum allowable amount.

A. Permanent Full-time Employees. Employees in this category (32 hours or more per week) are eligible for the full replacement allowance.

B. Less Than Full-time Employees. We will use the following replacement allowance formula for those employees with less than 32-hour appointments: Hours worked weekly divided by 40 equals percent of week worked equals percent of maximum replacement. For example, if you work 24 hours per week, you receive 60 percent of the maximum replacement allowance (24 hours divided by 40 hours = 60 percent).

4.14 Are station records required? The station will maintain a record of uniform allowance expenditures.

4.15 Who owns the uniforms? All uniform components, except special purpose uniform items, Service patches, and the enforcement badge and patch, are your property. Care and maintenance of the uniform components are your responsibilities, and you must pay for them as a personal expense.


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