HR Order DOJ1200.1: Part 2. Compensation: Chapter 2-5 (REV), Department of Justice Interim Relocation Incentive Plan

In accordance with statutory changes in 5 U.S.C. § 5753, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued interim regulations, 70 Fed. Reg. 25732 (2005), modifying 5 CFR Part 575. These interim regulations, at 5 CFR § 575.207, require that an agency have a Relocation Incentive Plan in effect in order to continue to issue relocation bonuses, now called relocation incentives. This interim plan replaces the relocation bonus portions of chapter 2-5 of DOJ Order 1200.1 and the temporary plan memorandum of June 17, 2005. We will issue a permanent modification of this chapter, which will serve as the Department's permanent plan, following OPM's issuance of final regulations.

Citations in this plan to sections of 5 CFR Part 575 refer to the sections as listed in 70 Fed. Reg. 25732 (2005).

A. References.

Statute 5 U.S.C. § 5753
Executive Order E.O. 12748 (2/1/91)
Code of Federal Regulations 70 Fed. Reg. 25732 (2005) to be codified at 5 CFR Part 575
Key terms Approving official

Bureau head

Service agreement

Guidance Relocation Incentives
Reporting Requirements Component Quarterly Report Form
Departmental Annual Report Form

B. Policy.

  1. This is the Department's interim plan for paying relocation incentives, consistent with 5 CFR § 575.207(a).
     
  2. Relocation incentives may be paid to employees in the categories of positions listed at 5 CFR § 575.203, including: General Schedule (GS) employees, Senior Level (SL) employees, career Senior Executive Service (SES) employees, members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation/Drug Enforcement Administration (FBI/DEA) SES, Executive Schedule (EX) employees, prevailing rate employees, law enforcement officers, Immigration Judges, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and Assistant U.S. Trustees, except that relocation incentives may not be paid to employees excluded by 5 CFR § 575.204, including Presidential appointees, non-career SES employees, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Trustees, and those positions excluded from the competitive service by reason of their confidential, policy making, policy determining, or policy advocating nature.
     
  3. Consistent with the provisions of this plan and the availability of funds for such purpose, a component may pay a relocation incentive to a current Government employee, with a current rating of at least "fully successful" or its equivalent, who must relocate, without a break in service, to accept a position in a different geographic area (as defined by 5 CFR § 575.205) provided that an approving official determines that the position to which the employee is relocating is likely to be difficult to fill, considering the factors identified in 5 CFR § 575.206, in the absence of an incentive.
     
  4. Recommending and approving officials must consider the following factors in determining whether a relocation incentive should be paid, the amount of any such payment, and the length of the service agreement, in addition to those specified in 5 CFR § 575.206:
     

    1. Funds available to pay an incentive to the employee under current consideration and for any future incentives that may be needed and;
       
    2. The employee's qualifications.

An approving official must make a written determination in accordance with 5 CFR § 575.208 on a case-by-case basis, except as provided in paragraph 8. A determination must be made before the employee enters on duty in the new location, and the employee must establish a residence in the new location and sign a service agreement before an incentive may be paid.

  1. Relocating employees may be paid amounts of up to 25 percent of the employee's basic pay (as defined by 5 CFR § 575.202 to include locality pay and special schedules) at the beginning of the service period, multiplied by the length of his/her service agreement, calculated as stated in 5 CFR § 575.209. (In cases of critical agency need, a waiver of this limitation may be sought from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Component heads who find it necessary to obtain such a waiver in a specific situation, shall forward requests and supporting documentation to the Assistant Attorney General for Administration (AAG/A) for review. The AAG/A will make the request to OPM.)
     
  2. Each individual determination to pay a relocation incentive and the amount of the incentive must be approved by an official who is at a higher level than the official who made the initial determination, unless that official is the Deputy Attorney General or the Attorney General. (The approval necessary for group determinations is discussed in paragraph 8.)
     
  3. The following officials may approve relocation incentives for an individual position or a group of positions when the requirements of 5 CFR §§ 575.205 and 575.208 and this plan are met.
     
    1. General Schedule, Prevailing Rate Positions, SES, FBI-DEA SES, and Senior Level Positions (Except Attorneys and Law Clerks).
       

      1. Bureau heads may approve incentives for these employees. This authority may be redelegated. However, the approving official may not be at a level below the Bureau Human Resources Officer.
         
      2. For Offices, Boards, and Divisions (OBD), the approving official is the AAG/A. Requests shall be submitted through the Human Resources Staff, Justice Management Division (JMD). OBD heads shall review requests before submission.
         
    2. Attorneys and Law Clerks. The Bureau General Counsel or OBD head shall approve incentive determinations for attorneys and law clerks, except Executive Schedule appointees and Immigration Judges. This authority may be redelegated in writing.
       
    3. Executive Schedule, Immigration Judges, and Presidential Appointees. The Deputy Attorney General or his or her designee retains authority to approve incentive determinations for all employees in these categories. Bureaus should submit requests for review and approval of incentives for these positions through the AAG/A.
       
  4. An approving official may authorize the payment of relocation incentives to any employee whose rating of record is at least equivalent to a rating of "fully successful" without the requirement of a case-by-case approval when:
     
    1. The employee is a member of a specified group of employees subject to a mobility agreement and the approving official determines that relocation incentives are necessary to ensure the Department's or bureau's ability to retain high quality employees subject to such agreement, or
       
    2. A major organizational unit of the Department is relocated to a different commuting area and the approving official determines that relocation incentives are necessary for specified groups of employees to ensure the continued operation of that unit without undue disruption of an activity or function that is deemed essential to the Department's or bureau's mission and/or without undue disruption of service to the public.
  5. The authorization must state the specific group of employees covered, the coverage period of the authorization, and the conditions under which the authorization is provided.

  6. A relocating employee must sign a service agreement before any relocation incentive is paid. Payments may be made as an initial lump sum, a lump sum at the close of the service period, installment payments over the course of the service period or a combination of payment methods. Service agreements may have a maximum term of four years and must be consistent with the requirements of 5 CFR § 575.210 and any requirements of this plan. Each bureau shall be as consistent as practicable in determining the length of service agreements for employees in similar circumstances. Where an agreement provides for incentive amounts resulting in income in excess of the aggregate pay limitation, the agreement must provide for these excess payments to be deferred.
     
  7. Each service agreement shall describe the rules governing termination of a relocation incentive. Each agreement shall also state the Department policy for repayment of a relocation incentive, including the applicable portions of 5 CFR § 575.211, if the employee fails to complete the length of service specified. Department policy is to apply the requirements of 5 CFR § 575.211 and other provisions of this plan. In addition, it is Department policy that movement between bureaus of the Department to a position and/or location that continues to warrant a relocation incentive will NOT constitute failure to complete a service agreement, and any service agreement may continue in effect. (However, if an employee voluntarily moves between bureaus, the gaining bureau shall reimburse the bureau that paid the incentive on a pro rata basis.) Components may establish additional termination policies consistent with this plan and 5 CFR § 575.210. These policies must be stated in the service agreement. Agency termination notices must be in writing. The termination of a service agreement is not grievable or appealable.
  8. C. Documentation and Reporting.

    1. Each component approving a determination to pay a relocation incentive, including a group determination, shall document its decision and shall retain sufficient documentation to justify the payment and to reconstruct the action. This documentation shall include a copy of the service agreement, the initial incentive determination, the employees rating of record and, consistent with the requirements of 5 CFR § 575.208, the following information:
       

      1. The criteria used to determine the need for paying the incentive (including the need for advance determinations) and how the criteria in 5 CFR § 575.206 were applied;
         
      2. The criteria used to determine the amount of the incentive, the timing of the incentive and the length of the service agreement and how the criteria was applied;
         
      3. The qualifications of the employee in sufficient detail to demonstrate how he/she meets any special qualifications needed for the position;
         
      4. Evidence that the worksite is in a different geographic location from that of the position held just prior to the move; and
         
      5. Evidence that the employee established a residence at the new location.
         

      The documentation shall be made available upon request for review by JMD's Human Resources Staffor OPM.

    2. Upon approval, payment of the recruitment incentive shall be documented by preparing an SF-50 and filing it in the employee's Official Personnel Folder. Each component shall prepare a quarterly report on its use of the approved incentives, and submit the report to the AAG/A with a copy to the Director, Human Resources Staff, no later than the 15th day of the month following the end of the quarter. For example: The report for the first quarter (January 1st through March 31st) is due on April 15th. See Attachment 1 (Human Resources Staffwebsite). The final report, due on January 15th, shall be cumulative, covering the use of the incentive for the entire calendar year. See Attachment 2 (Human Resources Staff website). Each report shall include:
       

      1. The number of employees to whom an incentive was offered at any point during the calendar year;
         
      2. The number and dollar amount of incentives paid by position title, series, grade or pay level, and geographical area (city and state, or country);
         
      3. The annual salary of each employee who was paid an incentive and the percentage of the incentive;
         
      4. The method of payment (initial or final lump sum, installment, or combination);
         
      5. The length of any service agreement related to each incentive; and
         
      6. A narrative discussion of the situations for which incentives were used, the effectiveness of the retention incentive authorities, and any recommendations for improving the use of the statutoryauthorities in terms of both regulatory change and Departmentrequirements and flexibilities.
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