Placement Assistance Programs (FPM 330)

223 FW 5
FWM Number
Originating Office
Division of Human Capital

5.1 Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to issue guidelines on placement assistance programs implemented within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

5.2 Scope. The guidelines outlined in this chapter apply to career, career-conditional, and excepted service employees, although not every employee may be eligible for all programs described below.

5.3 Authority.

A. Title 5, U.S.C., Chapter 33, Examination, Selection, and Placement; Chapter 43, Performance Appraisal; Chapter 53, Pay Rates and Systems; Chapter 81, Compensation for Work Injuries; Chapter 83, Retirement; and Chapter 84, Federal Employees' Retirement System.

B. Title 5, CFR - Parts 330, Recruitment, Selection, and Placement (General); 351, Reduction in Force; 352, Reemployment Rights; 353, Restoration to Duty from Military Service or Compensable Injury; 536, Grade and Pay Retention; and 831, Retirement.

C. 370 Departmental Manual (DM) 330, Recruitment, Selection, and Placement (General) and DM 351, Reduction in Force.

5.4 Policy. The policy of the Service is to provide placement assistance to employees who are faced with possible job loss or have been involuntarily separated due to reduction-in-force (RIF), reorganizations, or similar actions, with priority referral for vacancies in accordance with the Department of the Interior (Department) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) program provisions and requirements, and to provide spousal placement assistance according to the provisions of this chapter.

5.5 Objectives. The major objectives of the Service's placement assistance programs are to:

A. Utilize the skills of employees wisely, economically, and efficiently.

B. Provide reemployment opportunities for Federal employees who have been separated involuntarily not due to personal cause; and

C. Assure consideration is given to all employees for reemployment and repromotion opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age, provided that at the time of the alleged discriminatory action the candidate was at least 40 years of age, or other non-merit factor.

5.6 Responsibilities.

A. U. S. Office of Personnel Management. OPM Federal placement programs operate within agencies under a framework of statutes, regulations, and guidelines issued by OPM.

B. Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is responsible for ensuring that placement assistance programs operate effectively throughout the Service in accordance with OPM regulations and guidelines, and Departmental policies.

C. Assistant Director - Policy, Budget and Administration is responsible for providing program leadership and administration of the Program in Headquarters and issuing Servicewide guidelines.

D. Regional Directors are responsible for administering sound and effective placement programs through their Assistant Regional Directors - Budget and Administration. Decisions are based upon the broad policies and guidelines established by the Director, the Department, and the OPM.

E. Chief, Division of Personnel Management (DPM), issues Servicewide policy and procedures, renders assistance to Regions in interpreting guidelines related to the operation of placement assistance programs, and forwards information to the Department regarding program status.

F. Regional Personnel Officers, Regions 1-7, and Chief, Branch of Headquarters Operations, DPM, Headquarters, are responsible for the operation of the placement assistance programs within their area of responsibility. They must operate the programs under existing guidance while ensuring that eligible employees are promptly enrolled in each applicable program and properly considered for all positions for which they are qualified and available. They ensure that affected employees receive timely information regarding placement assistance application procedures and forms completion.

G. Managers and Supervisors are responsible for considering placement assistance eligibles in accordance with the provisions of placement assistance programs.

H. Employees who are eligible for placement assistance programs have the responsibility to prepare any required forms accurately and promptly for consideration for placement assistance and to respond to placement offers in a timely manner.

5.7 Placement Assistance Programs refer to those practices that assist employees who will be displaced or have been separated involuntarily from their Federal jobs, as a result of work force reductions; declinations of transfers of function or reassignments to other commuting areas; compensable on-the-job injury; or discontinued service retirement or disability retirement. Placement assistance is also available to persons who are repromotion eligibles due to downgrading as a result of a RIF.

5.8 Definitions.

A. Annual Performance Rating of Record. An official performance rating under a performance appraisal system approved by OPM in accordance with Title 5 U.S.C., Chapter 43, Performance Appraisal.

B. Certification of Expected Separation. A certification issued to an employee whom the agency believes with a reasonable degree of certainty will be separated from Federal employment by RIF procedures. The certification may be issued up to six months prior to the effective date of the RIF.

C. Competitive Area. The organizational and geographical boundaries in which employees compete in a RIF. Generally, it is restricted by what is considered a "local commuting area."

D. Days. All references to days in this chapter mean calendar days.

E. Departmental Career Placement Assistance Program (DCPA). The mechanism used to assist in placing Department of the Interior employees who have received notices of separation, who are on grade and pay retention, or who are completing assignments outside the United States.

F. Dual-Career Situation. The status of a legally married couple where one member of the couple is employed by the Service and the other member is employed by any Federal Government agency.

G. Federal Job Opportunities List (FJOL). A consolidated listing of Federal employment vacancies that are entered into a computerized database that is administered through the OPM Service Center located in Macon, Georgia.

H. Interagency Placement Program (IPP). The OPM program that assists in the placement of career and career-conditional employees who are scheduled to be displaced or have been displaced through RIF or are unable to accept assignment to another commuting area. The IPP provides employees faced with possible loss of employment with priority referral for vacancies filled from OPM registers (or vacancies in the excepted service), as appropriate.

I. Involuntary Separation. A separation against the will of and without the consent of the employee, other than separation for cause on charges of misconduct or delinquency. Examples are RIF, abolishment of position, expiration of term of office, or lack of funds.

J. Local Commuting Area. The geographic area that usually constitutes one area for employment purposes, as determined by the agency. It includes any population center (or two or more neighboring ones) and the surrounding localities in which people live and can be reasonably expected to travel back and forth daily to their usual employment.

K. Notice. The official written communication provided to an individual employee announcing that he/she/they may or will be affected by a RIF action.

(1) General Notice is given when the specific RIF action cannot be determined.

(2) Specific Notice contains the specific RIF action to be taken involving the individual.

L. Reduction-In-Force (RIF). Separation of an employee from his/her/their competitive level required by the agency because of lack of work or funds, abolishment of position or agency, or cuts in personnel authorizations.

M. Reemployment Priority List (RPL). The mechanism agencies use to give reemployment consideration to former competitive service employees separated by reduction-in-force or recovered from a compensable illness. (See 5.9 for additional information on the RPL.)

N. Spouse. Legal husband or wife. Common law marriage is recognized for spousal placement assistance if valid under the laws of the place where the parties lived at the time of the marriage.

O. Spousal Assistance Program. Service policies and procedures that provide employment assistance to spouses of Service employees who are transferred to another geographic area in the best interest of the Service and not at the convenience of the employee. (See 5.12 for additional information on the Spousal Assistance Program.)

P. Tenure Groups. Competing employees are listed on a retention register ranked in the following priority order for retention during the RIF:

(1) Tenure Group I.

     (a) Competitive Service - Includes career employees who are not serving probationary periods for appointments to competitive positions.

     (b) Excepted Service - Includes employees whose appointments carry no restrictions or conditions such as conditional, indefinite, specific time limitation, or trial period.

(2) Tenure Group II.

     (a) Competitive Service - Includes each career-conditional employee and each employee serving a probationary period for initial appointment to a competitive position.

     (b) Excepted Service - Includes employees who are serving trial periods or whose tenure is equivalent to career-conditional tenure in the competitive service in agencies using that type of appointment system.

(3) Tenure Group III.

     (a) Competitive Service - Includes employees serving under indefinite appointments, temporary appointments pending establishment of a register (TAPER), term appointments, status quo appointments, or any other non-status non-temporary appointments.

     (b) Excepted Service - Includes employees whose appointments are indefinite; employees whose appointments have specific time limitations of more than one year; and employees who, although currently serving under appointments limited to one year or less, have completed one year of current continuous employment.

Q. Transfer of Function. The transfer of the performance of a continuing function from one competitive area and its addition to one or more other competitive areas, except when the function involved is virtually identical to functions already being performed in the other competitive area(s); or, the movement of the competitive area in which the function is performed to another local commuting area.

5.9 Reemployment Priority List (RPL).

A. Eligibility. The Service is required to include information about the RPL in an employee's specific notice of RIF separation (or in a supplemental notice). Thus, an employee's eligibility must be established before the employee is separated. To be eligible to apply for the RPL, an employee must:

(1) Be serving under an appointment in the competitive service in tenure group I or II;

(2) Have received a performance rating above unacceptable (level 1) as the current annual performance rating of record. (This rating requirement does not apply to employees excluded from a performance appraisal system by law, regulation, or OPM action);

(3) Have received a specific notice of separation from the agency by RIF; and

(4) Have not declined an offer of assignment by bump or retreat (or offer of a vacancy) to a position having a representative rate at least as high as the representative rate of the position currently held.

B. Establishment of the RPL.

(1) The Service is required to establish and maintain the RPL for each commuting area in which eligible competitive service employees are separated due to RIF. The Service must give registrants priority consideration over certain outside job applicants.

(2) Early advance planning and timely, effective placement assistance programs minimize the impact of Federal workforce reductions on Federal employees. The following efforts must be taken immediately by a servicing personnel office once it realizes it will be unable to retain an employee:

     (a) Enter an eligible separated employee's name on the RPL for priority placement consideration;

     (b) Obtain an up-to-date copy of the employee's application for Federal employment that includes information as to the lowest grade the employee will accept and the commuting area in which he/she/they wishes consideration if there is no other Service installation in his/her/their commuting area;

     (c) Determine all series and grades that the eligible employee qualifies and is available for; have the employee sign an agreement that he/she/they is qualified for and available for those series that the servicing personnel office has identified; and

     (d) Provide copies of RPLs to all other Department activities in the same commuting area. Each month Regional Personnel Officers must send an updated list to DPM for forwarding to the Department.

C. Referral from the RPL.

(1) Simultaneous Consideration. Reemployment eligibles and repromotion eligibles should be simultaneously considered before any action is taken to recruit and fill a Service vacancy. Line managers and supervisors must decide, based on organizational needs, budget and ceiling restraints, the group (reemployment eligibles or repromotion eligibles) that will be used for selection. Within each subgroup (30 percent disabled/veteran/non-veteran) any eligible may be selected.

(2) Selection from the RPL must be made in priority order:

     (a) Tenure Group I:

     (i) 30% disabled veterans.

     (ii) All other veterans.

     (iii) Non-veterans.

     (b) Tenure Group II:

     (i) 30% disabled veterans.

     (ii) All other veterans.

     (iii) Non-veterans.

(3) Exceptions. If the Service can show that the RPL eligible could not perform the work of the vacant position within 90 days without undue interruption, an exception may be made to allow:

     (a) selection out of subgroup order;

     (b) appointment from an OPM register;

     (c) reinstatement of a non-preference eligible; or

     (d) transfer from another Federal agency.

(4) The request for exception must be forwarded through DPM to the Department. The RPL eligibles must also be notified in writing of the exception.

D. Removal from the RPL.

(1) Employee names are removed from the RPL when:

     (a) Eligibility expires;

     (b) Eligibles are employed from the list;

     (c) An eligible declines an offer of a career, career-conditional, or excepted appointment without time limit to a position having a representative rate of pay at least as high as that of the position from which the individual was or will be separated and with the same work schedule (part-time or full-time);

     (d) An eligible fails to reply to an inquiry made related to a specific permanent position having a representative rate at least as high as that of the position from which the individual was or will be separated and with the same work schedule; or

     (e) An eligible requests in writing that his/her/their name be removed.

(2) Method of Delivery. Before removal of an eligible's name from the RPL due to failure to reply to a specific job offer or inquiry of availability for a specific vacancy, the Service must have evidence to show that a written offer or inquiry was made to the placement eligible. A copy of the addressed envelope sent by regular first class mail must be retained. The Service will include in its offer or inquiry a deadline for responding, just as it would in other recruitment actions. The inquiry also will clearly state that failure to respond will result in loss of RPL consideration for all grades or for lower grades, as appropriate.

(3) Eligibles may be considered to be unavailable when correspondence is returned without a forwarding address, inasmuch as the Service will be unable to contact them. No further RPL consideration is given unless the individual updates his/her/their application before the period of eligibility expires. Where a forwarding address is given, the Service can require the individual to periodically update the RPL application to continue to receive RPL consideration.

5.10 Departmental Career Placement Assistance Program (DCPA).

A. Servicing personnel offices are responsible for counseling employees eligible for the DCPA on the benefits of applying for the program and for ensuring prompt processing and forwarding of their application documents to DPM. DCPA is established as a supplement to bureau and OPM placement programs, and does not negate or compensate for other Department or OPM placement assistance programs.

B. DCPA provisions and requirements are generally applicable for all eligibles and to all available positions without regard to any of the factors referenced in 5.5 C. When applicable, Indian preference is mandatory.

C. In filling continuing (excluding temporary) positions at grade levels and geographic locations for which qualified DCPA candidates are available, Department activities must ensure that they receive appropriate priority in consideration for placement. When there is a qualified DCPA eligible for the position, a continuing position may not be filled by transfer, new appointment, or reemployment of a person who is not a DCPA eligible unless the person is on a Department of the Interior RPL, or is reemployed or restored under Part 352 or Part 353 of the OPM regulations; or such action is approved by the Director of Personnel. Selections under the DCPA must not conflict with veteran preference requirements that apply to Department RPLs established under OPM requirements.

D. Eligibility.

(1) Criteria.

     (a) Only applicants with a current annual performance rating (under Title 5 U.S.C., Chapter 43, Performance Appraisal) above unacceptable (Level 1) may be enrolled in the Program. The following documentation is required to register for the DCPA:

     (i) A current application for Federal employment;

     (ii) A current written supervisory performance appraisal;

     (iii) An appropriately completed Career Placement Assistance Application, Form DI-1832;

     (iv) A copy of any specific RIF notice or notice of position downgrading issued to the employee.

     (v) A copy of the RPL that the employee is listed on, in accordance with placement assistance program provisions.

     (b) Competitive career/career-conditional employees are eligible for the highest priority DCPA if they apply within 30 calendar days after the date they receive a specific RIF notice of separation.

(2) Specifications.

     (a) Participants are registered under categories to indicate their priority for placement under the Program and why they are registered. Qualified eligibles must be considered for all available positions that are filled at their current grade level and any lower grade level that they have already registered for. Eligibles from full-time positions are required to be considered only for full-time positions. Eligibles from other than full-time positions are required to be considered only for other than full-time positions.

     (b) Eligibles must also meet the requirements regarding Category I., Category IIA., and Category IIB. under DCPA provisions. Employees, who are separated because they decline to transfer with their function, are not eligible for Category I placement assistance.

     (c) Eligibles are registered for consideration in any specified geographical location (the local commuting area for the location specified). No eligible may, however, limit his/her/their consideration within the local commuting area of a specified location.

E. Period of Eligibility. Eligibility for assistance is limited to two years.

F. Selection. In using the DCPA, restrictions are similar to that for the RPL. When there is a qualified DCPA eligible, the position may not be filled by transfer, new appointment, or reemployment of a non-DCPA candidate (unless the candidate is on a bureau RPL or is entitled to reemployment/restoration under Title 5, CFR Part 352 or Part 353). The DCPA list, like the RPL, must be screened prior to taking any action to recruit for a specific vacancy. The applications of the qualified eligibles should be obtained from the appropriate personnel office and referred to the selecting official.

G. Management Options and Other Considerations. There is no requirement under the DCPA that any vacant position be filled or that placement assistance eligibles must be selected when job vacancies for which they are qualified and available are filled. Positions may be filled by non-DCPA candidates through position change actions (e.g., reassignments, demotions, promotions), so long as DCPA eligibles are considered as appropriate.

(1) DCPA candidates may be selected non-competitively for lateral reassignment, placement in positions at a lower grade, or (consistent with merit staffing provisions) promotion.

(2) If a continuing position is announced under merit staffing procedures and a qualified DCPA candidate is available to fill it, the eligible must be considered. This is required irrespective of the area of consideration stated in the vacancy announcement and even when the eligible does not specifically apply in response to the vacancy announcement. The servicing personnel office with responsibility for the position vacancy will obtain the applications of available eligibles, enter them into the case file, and assure that they are considered consistent with DCPA program provisions.

(3) When a continuing position is announced under merit staffing procedures at multiple grade levels (e.g., 5, 7, 9), there is no requirement that the position be filled at a grade level for which a DCPA eligible is available. The DCPA program provisions apply only at the grade level at which the position is filled. There is no provision under the DCPA that an eligible be considered for positions that are filled at grade levels higher than his/her/their current grade level. However, if a continuing position with grade potential higher than the current grade level of a qualified and available eligible is filled at the eligible's current grade level or a lower grade level for which he/she/they is registered in the DCPA, the eligible must be considered for the position. Any qualified candidate may, however, be selected.

(4) There may be infrequent and unusual circumstances when exceptions to the provisions and requirements of the DCPA might be warranted. The policy for granting exceptions is not intended for routine use as a mechanism to bypass qualified eligibles based solely on showing in specific instances that DCPA eligibles are not as well qualified as someone else. Any request to the Department from the Service for exception from DCPA requirements is appropriately submitted in writing through the Chief, DPM, and will specifically state in detail all reasons for the request. The exception must identify the DCPA eligible(s) and position(s) involved, any proposed selectee, and indicate whether there is any eligible on an applicable Department RPL who is available for the position.

5.11 OPM Placement Programs.

A. Supplemental agency placement assistance programs administer additional programs that either give displaced employees priority referral to positions in other agencies, or permit them to file an application for existing registers. As an additional service, OPM area offices provide Geographical Code Listings that furnish information on the geographic areas for placement assistance as well as the OPM addresses where completed forms should be sent. These listings are supplemented by address listings for positions handled on a nationwide basis by a specific area office or by an agency with delegated examining authority.

(1) Agencies will give full consideration to individuals referred through OPM's placement programs. Full consideration is a careful and open review of the qualifications of the registrant as described in the individual's application forms, contact to determine interest and availability, and an interview, if possible, to further assess the registrant's ability to perform the duties of the position within a reasonable period of time.

(2) The OPM provides assistance by maintaining an Interagency Placement Program (IPP). The IPP provides registrants with priority referral for vacancies that are expected to last more than one year and that are filled through competitive registers held by OPM or an agency with delegated examining authority; when making direct hire appointments; and when making Outstanding Scholar appointments.

B. Eligibility.

(1) Criteria. All registrants must have job performance ratings above the unsatisfactory level. The IPP is open to career or career-conditional employees in the competitive service (tenure groups 1 or 2) who were or will be separated from agencies that are subject to Title 5, U.S.C. appointment procedures. Excepted service employees (non-temporary, tenure groups 1 or 2), other than Schedule C, are eligible only if they have personal competitive status. The IPP also includes National Guard/Military Reserve Technicians (hereafter referred to as "Technicians") who were separated because of a medical disability and are receiving a special OPM disability annuity.

(2) Individuals may be registered in the IPP if they will be or were separated and:

     (a) received a Certification of Expected Separation or a specific RIF notice.

     (b) declined to transfer with their function to another commuting area or declined to accept a new assignment in another commuting area.

     (c) receive compensation for work-related injuries and their agency is unable to place them; or

     (d) receive an OPM disability annuity or are retired under the discontinued service option.

(3) Period of eligibility.

     (a) The OPM Staffing Service Center in Macon, Georgia (hereafter referred to as "Macon"), will maintain a centralized database of employees who are eligible for IPP placement assistance. Except as indicated below, individuals may remain in the IPP for up to two years, but placement assistance is provided in 6-month increments. At the end of each 6-month period, the registrant must notify OPM by writing to Macon to request continued assistance. If Macon does not receive this notification, the individual's registration will be inactivated. (An inactivated registrant may request reactivation at any time within the 2-year eligibility period.) Eligibility begins on the date Macon registers an individual in the IPP.

     (b) Exceptions to Period of Eligibility.

     (i.) Veterans in positions restricted to veterans who lose their job because it was contracted out under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 receive three years of assistance (Title 5, U.S.C. 3310.)

     (ii.) By law, Technicians must receive placement assistance for as long as they receive an OPM annuity. They will not be required to update their eligibility in 6-month increments. The OPM has determined that placement assistance will be optional for them once they reach age 60. Macon will contact Technicians approaching their 60th birthdays to ascertain if they wish continued assistance.

(4) Termination of Eligibility. Program eligibility will terminate when:

     (a) The 2-year period of eligibility expires (a registrant's eligibility may be inactivated sooner, but not terminated, if the applicant does not request continued assistance after six months);

     (b) The registrant is selected for a non-temporary position in the competitive or excepted service (whether through IPP referral or some other means);

     (c) The registrant declines an offer of permanent employment in the competitive or excepted service under conditions (i.e., grade, series, and geographic location) he/she/they indicated were acceptable; or

     (d) The registrant requests termination in writing.

     (e) To ensure IPP registrants are available for appointment, strict removal procedures will be followed. For example, if an individual registers for positions in San Francisco and then declines an offer in that location, the registrant will be removed from the IPP. However, a registrant may at any time change the conditions for placement assistance (prior to declination) by notifying Macon in writing.

     (f) Exceptions to removal procedures will be made by Macon on a case-by-case basis following OPM Central Office guidance (i.e., a disability annuitant may have declined a particular position based on a physician's advice).

     (g) Technicians are removed from the Program when:

     (i.) They are appointed to a Federal position;

     (ii.) They decline an offer of employment through the IPP; or

     (iii.) Their annuity is terminated.

C. Job Consideration. Registrants may request IPP assistance for:

(1) Occupational Series. Registrants may choose up to three job series that include the series of their current or last position; the series of any position they have previously held; and a series in which they are interested in and qualified for based on education, training, and/or work experience. Agencies are responsible for ensuring that qualifications are met.

(2) Grades. Registrants are limited to the grade of the position from which separated and lower grades. This also applies to employees on grade retention. Retained grade levels are not used for RIF or IPP purposes.

(3) Geographic Location. Registrants may select up to 5 geographic locations. Employees who have declined an assignment in another commuting area will only be referred for jobs in the commuting area where they were separated.

(4) Technicians will be registered for related jobs that are at the grade level from which separated (or equivalent) in the commuting area of their former Technician positions. The broadest geographic codes that cover the commuting area will be used.

D. Registration.

(1) Personnel offices must submit all of the following to OPM's Macon Service Center (Eligible employees may also submit the material to Macon directly if their agencies or personnel offices have closed and/or they were not provided the opportunity to register prior to separation):

     (a) OPM Form 1478, Registration Form, contains basic information including series, grades, and geographic locations for which an individual wants to be considered;

     (b) OPM Form 1478-B, Qualifications Summary, lists experience, education, and training to support the series and grades for which registered;

     (c) a copy of the proof of displacement upon which IPP eligibility is based (i.e., RIF notice, separation form, SF-50, or Certification of Expected Separation).

(2) The Registration Form and Qualifications Summary are contained in the OPM IPP Registration Instructions and Forms, OPM Form 1478, along with general information about the IPP, geographic codes, and a list of OPM Service Centers.

(3) OPM Service Centers will maintain a small supply of all IPP registration material. Agencies may obtain the IPP registration material from OPM Service Centers or reproduce the forms locally.

(4) Initial Registration. Agencies are responsible for registering their employees and for determining registrant qualifications. Separated employees whose agencies or personnel offices have closed and who were not given the opportunity to register through their agency, may seek assistance from OPM Service Centers or register directly with Macon by mail. Macon's address is listed in the IPP registration booklet. Technicians must be registered through their agencies. The agencies should mail the registration papers to Macon. Agencies must inform employees that if they register outside the commuting area, the employees may be responsible for paying relocation costs. If a registrant declines a position for which he registered because the gaining agency will not pay relocation expenses, this will result in removal from the IPP.

(5) Pay plans for reemployment will consist of General Schedule (GS), Wage Grade (WG), Wage Leader (WL), and Wage Supervisor (WS). For employees occupying a position with a wage pay plan that is different from the ones cited here, agencies will use representative rates and convert to WG, WL, or WS.

(6) When employees want to register in two pay systems, i.e., WG and GS, the registering agency will compare representative rates to determine the appropriate grade. Whenever representative rates need to be compared, the rates in effect in the geographic area from which the employees are being separated will be used. If an employee is registered in two pay systems, the registrant's full performance level for each pay system must be stated in the registration material.

(7) Timeframe. Individuals may register as soon as they receive a Certificate of Expected Separation or other official notice of separation. Individuals must register no later than 90 days after separation. Disability annuitants and workers' compensation beneficiaries who are able to return to work must register no later than 90 calendar days after termination of their annuity or compensation payments. The resolution of an appeal for continuation of compensation may require more than 90 days.

(8) OPM's Role in the Registration Process. Macon will verify IPP eligibility by reviewing the registration form and displacement notice and obtaining any missing information from the agency (or registrant). An applicant record will be established by Macon by entering the information from the registration form. A preliminary review of the employee's qualifications for the series listed on the registration form will be conducted by the agency (or OPM Service Centers if the agency or its personnel office no longer exists.)

(9) Notice of Registration. OPM will send all registrants a Notice of Registration that lists the registered series and geographic locations, dates of eligibility, and registrant responsibilities. The Notice will also contain blocks for the registrant to extend eligibility or request registration changes by Macon. When a Technician has been registered, Macon will notify the OPM Service Center with jurisdiction over the commuting area from which the Technician was separated. The Service Center will verify that the geographic codes are within the commuting area and then notify all agencies in that area in writing that the Technician is registered with OPM (Technicians may not change the conditions under which they were registered in the IPP).

E. Accessing the IPP Database.

(1) Agencies may access the IPP database in Macon directly through a touchtone telephone using the Automated Applicant Referral System (AARS). A valid agency identification (ID) is needed to use the system. The six-digit agency ID will be treated as a computer password with appropriate assurances that it will be properly safeguarded. The ID corresponds to a specific fax number at the agency.

(2) To obtain an initial agency ID or to add an ID, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Automated Applicant Referral System Agency ID Request Form (See Exhibit 1) can be reproduced from the text to serve as a user guide in this process. Changes to information may be made by calling the IPP technical assistance telephone number - (912) 757-3150.

(3) It is imperative that necessary precautions are taken to protect the privacy of the individuals on OPM's referral list. Persons who have access to the lists of registrants will safeguard the confidentiality of this information.

F. The IPP Referral List.

(1) After a user completes a telephone request to Macon, the computer will search the IPP inventory for individuals who meet all the conditions of the request. Technicians will be referred to all occupations within the occupational family group for which registered.When this is completed, an IPP referral list will be sent to the user by facsimile machine.

(2) The referral list contains a reminder that agencies cannot pass over the candidates referred (See section 5.11 N). Any contact with individuals on the referral list must be documented. Referrals will be made for positions that are expected to last more than 1 year and have no greater promotion potential than the position from which the individual was separated.

(3) If no IPP registrants are available, Macon will send to the agency by facsimile a referral list with no names and indicate that there were no IPP registrants in the inventory for the particular grade, series, and location. A control number and the search criteria will be shown on the referral list.

(4) The IPP referral has three parts that consist of a cover sheet, header, and registrant data. The facsimile cover sheet contains basic information about the referral list such as the time and date the list was sent, the person to whom sent, the referral list control number, number of pages, facsimile telephone numbers, etc. For reference purposes, the control number will be printed on all the pages of the referral list. These numbers are assigned sequentially and will be reset each fiscal year.

     (a) "INTERAGENCY PLACEMENT PROGRAM REFERRAL LIST," the control number, and date will be printed at the top of each page beginning with the second page.

     (b) The header information, beginning on the second page, will have the user's agency name, address, and telephone number listed for identification and reference. Search factors requested by the user will also be included. This will serve as a reference and documentation of the user's request. If an item is blank, it was bypassed. The last item on the header section of the referral list is the total number of registrants found.

     (c) The last portion (registrant data) of the referral list is the listing of registrants who meet the requirements of the user's request. The registrants are listed in ascending order by Social Security number. Additional data include name, address, daytime telephone number as well as full-time, part-time, and/or temporary employment availability.

G. Submitting a Request for a Qualifications Summary.

(1) If a user requires additional information regarding the qualifications of the IPP registrants referred from Macon, a copy of each person's Qualifications Summary can be obtained through AARS. The Qualifications Summary is a brief description of the registrant's education and experience.

(2) A Qualifications Summary can be obtained by using the same worksheet that was used to retrieve an IPP referral list. In addition, the top and right side of the worksheet will need to be completed to request a Qualifications Summary. The worksheet will assist in making the request accurate and will serve as a record of the request.

(3) The following five items included in the top and right side of the IPP worksheet, as shown in Exhibit 2, necessary to request a Qualifications Summary, are:

     (a) WORKSHEET NO.: Enter the two-digit code (07) that appears at the top of the IPP worksheet.

     (b) AGENCY IDENTIFICATION: Enter the agency identification code. Be sure to complete this carefully.

     (c) QUALIFICATIONS SUMMARY: Enter the number 2 that appears in the box to obtain a registrant's Qualifications Summary.

     (d) SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER: Enter the 9 digit Social Security number of the registrant for whom you wish to receive a copy of his/her/their Qualifications Summary.

     (e) ADDITIONAL REQUEST: This is the last item on the worksheet and requires a one-digit response. To verify the worksheet entries, enter "1." Your entries for each item will be read back to the user. To request another Qualifications Summary, enter "2." To exit the system, enter "3" for "Exit Referral System" and hang up the receiver. Failure to enter "3" when hanging up will cancel the request.

H. Considering IPP Registrants. The purpose of the entire process is to determine availability and degree of minimum qualifications (including justified selective factors) possessed by applicants referred for vacancies.

I. Contacting IPP Registrants.

(1) Registrants on the referral list will be contacted as soon as possible. Referral lists are valid for 30 days. If additional time is needed, extensions may be requested from the appropriate OPM Service Center.

(2) In addition to obtaining Qualifications Summaries through the AARS system, users may request registrants to provide additional qualifications information through a number of ways. These include but are not limited to the following: requesting registrants to provide a resume, a standard Federal application for employment, application specific to the agency or written response to address the selective and quality ranking factors of the position. The means selected must be practical and defensible; i.e., sufficient documentation to support an eligible or ineligible qualification determination.

(3) OPM recommends that registrants be sent an inquiry of availability, a copy of the proposed vacancy announcement and a request to respond to the listed selective (mandatory) and quality ranking factors for the position.

J. Documenting Unavailable Registrants. Bases for removing a registrant for consideration from a referral list must be documented and indicated on the referral list. A registrant may be removed from consideration through his/her/their declination or failure to reply to an inquiry of availability. Returned undelivered inquiries of availability provide another basis for removing a candidate from consideration. Oral declinations must be supported with a written record of the declination.

K. Rating Available Registrants.

(1) Agencies filling positions that are under a specific OPM Service Center's jurisdiction are delegated the authority to determine the qualifications of IPP referred registrants and rate them eligible or ineligible for these positions. Agencies must notify registrants of the rating and provide a procedure for registrants to request reconsideration of their rating.

(2) Rating decisions are appealable to OPM. Under this authority all available IPP registrants must be rated eligible or ineligible against the minimum qualifications requirements for the positions. These include selective factors. Quality ranking factors (or rating factors that are not identified as selective factors) are not considered part of the minimum qualifications requirements for a position and cannot be used to rate candidates ineligible. A brief explanation of a registrant's ineligible determination must be indicated on the IPP Referral List.

L. Notifying Ineligible IPP Registrants. All IPP registrants who are rated ineligible for a specific position must be notified in writing of their ineligible ratings.

M. Referring IPP Registrants to the Selecting Official. IPP registrants who meet the minimum qualifications for a position by the servicing personnel office are referred to the selecting official for employment consideration. (Selecting officials may not consider or select any other candidates for the position under competitive examining procedures as long as there are available, qualified IPP registrants remaining on the Referral List.)

N. Objecting to IPP Registrants.

(1) Agencies filling positions that are under a specific OPM Service Center's jurisdiction are delegated the authority to establish objection procedures and act on objections based on IPP registrants' qualifications. OPM will retain final approval authority on objections to IPP registrants with a compensable preference disability of 30 percent or more.

(2) The agency's procedures must include a two level administrative appeal process. Agency objection decisions are not appealable to OPM. When a selecting official finds that a referred IPP registrant does not meet the minimum qualifications requirements for the position, he/she/they must submit a Standard Form 62 (SF-62), Statement of Reasons for Objecting to an Eligible or Passing Over a Preference Eligible, to the agency servicing personnel office.

(3) There are no objection procedures for Technicians since the retirement laws give agency heads the authority to determine if Technicians are qualified.

O. Returning IPP Referral Lists. Since IPP is a centralized system, Macon will audit all referral lists and decide which registrants will remain in the program and those who will be deleted. All referral lists must be returned to Macon. When returning a referral list to Macon, note the action taken next to each registrant's name. Supporting documentation for action on each referred registrant must be provided, i.e., copies of declinations, failures to reply to official correspondence, SF-62 for sustained objections, etc.

P. File Documentation. A copy of the annotated Referral List and supporting documentation must be maintained with an agency's file for the vacancy for at least one year from the date the IPP Referral List is returned to Macon. Sufficient records must be retained to clearly reconstruct the case for audit purposes and responding to IPP registrants' inquiries.

Q. Initiating Competitive Examining Actions. An agency must clear the IPP within 10 working days prior to making a direct-hire offer (or other commitment). To place an entry on the FJOL, an IPP control number will be provided to the OPM Service Center to authorize shared examining or a direct-hire. When submitting a SF-39 package to the OPM Service Center or to make a report of a direct-hire appointment, a copy of a cleared and annotated IPP Referral Listing must be included. It is not necessary to include supporting documentation.

R. OPM Oversight and Auditing. OPM will maintain an IPP oversight program that will:

(1) Ensure the authorities delegated under this Bulletin are carried out in accordance with the appropriate legal requirements and merit system principles;

(2) Investigate substantive complaints when it appears there may be merit system violations. Generally, the OPM Service Center will provide 30 days' advance notice of an audit.

S. Agencies with Delegated Examining Authority.

(1) Agency Delegated Examining Units operating under OPM delegations must check the IPP database before they can initiate a recruitment action when filling positions that are expected to last more than 1 year and are filled through competitive registers held by OPM or an agency with delegated examining authority; when making direct hire appointments; and when making Outstanding Scholar appointments.

(2) Agencies do not need to clear the IPP when making appointments under Veterans' Readjustment, 30% disabled, Presidential Management Intern or Cooperative Education authorities at the time of initial appointment because these positions are in the excepted service. There is no guarantee the employee will be converted due to the special requirements upon which conversion is based. Outstanding Scholar appointments are unique, as these employees are immediately brought on board in the competitive service.

(3) Additional assistance for resolving technical problems with the IPP Referral System is available from OPM's Nationwide Examining Operations Division in Macon, Georgia and can be reached by calling (912) 744-2264 or (912) 744-2192. Before calling, please have the necessary material and information available to describe your problem or question.

5.12 Spousal Assistance Program. The Service will provide spousal placement assistance to spouses of Service employees faced with a geographic move in an effort to encourage the continued career development of employees in dual-career situations.

A. It is the responsibility of the dual-career couple to request assistance, if desired, from the servicing personnel office. It is advisable that the couple prepare a written request (See Exhibit 3 for an exemplary request) to the servicing personnel office at the future duty station to apply for spousal placement assistance after the official offer of employment is made to the new or transferring Service employee.

B. Relocation and placement assistance for the accompanying spouse are the responsibility of the Region that is hiring the other spouse. The hiring Region will make a concerted effort to provide requested assistance to any spouse of a transferring Service employee. Managers are encouraged to consider on a case-by-case basis individual situations, needs, and time frames. Managers and supervisors are, however, encouraged to apply these spousal placement assistance provisions as consistently as possible within their areas of responsibility.

C. Servicing personnel offices can utilize a variety of resources to assist dual-career couples faced with geographic moves. The following are examples of assistance that can be offered:

(1) Obtain information from local governments and Chambers of Commerce concerning local employers, types of skills required, and specific job opportunities that are available.

(2) Provide the spouse with information regarding Federal employment application procedures and requirements. For example, an accompanying spouse could be counselled as to whether or not a certain occupation requires testing, and, if so, provide the appropriate application procedures, the testing location, and similar information to the spouse.

(3) Assemble a listing of Federal vacancies within the Department, the Service, and the appropriate commuting area.

D. Private Employment Consultant/Recruiting Firms. There is no legal authority for the Service to use a private recruiting firm/source to aid accompanying spouses in finding employment. Spouses may utilize such services at their own discretion and expense.

5.13 Records. Servicing personnel offices will keep the following records:

A. For employees on the RPL: all positions (series/grade) for which the employees are qualified, all positions for which the eligibles were considered/referred, reason(s) for not referring the eligibles for particular positions, and results of the referrals.

B. Each merit staffing action will have as part of the file an indication that the RPL and DCPA were checked to determine whether any employees were available for consideration under the RPL and/or DCPA, and if so, how those candidates were considered.

C. A copy of the Regional RPL must be forwarded on a quarterly basis to DPM for transmittal to the Department.

Attachments (Exhibits, Amendments, etc)

Amended by Decision Memorandum, “Approval of Revisions to ~350 Directives to Remove Gender-Specific Pronouns,” 6/22/2022