Chapter 2-19, Extended Assignment Incentives
(Jan. 10, 2005)
- This chapter is the Department's plan for paying extended assignment incentives to individual employees who are assigned to a position located in a territory or possession of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands.
- Eligible Employees.Consistent with the availability of funds, an approving official may authorize an extended assignment incentive for any Department employee with at least a "successful" rating provided that the employee:
- Is assigned to a position in an appropriate location;
- Has completed at least two years of continuous service immediately before the commencement of the service agreement in one or more civil service positions located in that location;
- Is not fulfilling the requirements of a service agreement for a recruitment or relocation bonus or receiving a retention allowance;
- Meets all statutory and regulatory requirements including those in this Order;
- Has not received extended assignment differentials in excess of the maximum amount or for a period in excess of five years;
- Agrees to complete a specified additional period of employment with the Department in that location. The authorization must be in writing and make findings in accordance with 5 CFR 575.505.
- Payment Criteria. In determining whether an extended assignment incentive should be paid and the amount of any such payment, recommending and approving officials must consider the following factors in addition to those specified in 5 CFR 575.505, as applicable:
- Funds available (or expected to be available) to pay an incentive;
- The minimum incentive amount needed to ensure the employee's continued employment in the area;
- The impact that the employee's departure is likely to have on mission accomplishment; and
- The expected difficulty of recruiting or reassigning an employee to fill the position.
NOTE: OPM has determined that extended assignment incentives are subject to the aggregate limitation on pay in 5 U.S.C. 5307.
OPM has determined that extended assignment incentives are not considered part of an employee's rate of basic pay for any purpose, nor are the incentives included for the purpose of calculating a lump sum payment for annual leave under 5 C.F.R. 550.1205.
- Higher Level Approval. Each determination to pay an incentive and the amount and timing of the incentive will 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.
- Approving Officials. Consistent with existing authorities:
- General Schedule and Prevailing Rate Positions (Except Attorneys and U.S. Marshals).
- Bureau heads may approve incentive payments for bureau employees. This authority may be redelegated.
- The head of an OBD with delegated personnel authority may approve the payment of an extended assignment incentive for its employees. For OBDs that do not have their own personnel authority, the approving official is the AAG/A. Requests will be submitted through the Human Resources Staff, JMD. OBD heads will review OBD requests before submission.
- Attorneys. Subject to a delegation from the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management, the Bureau General Counsel or OBD head will approve incentive payments for attorneys, except SES, Executive Schedule, Senior Level, Immigration Judges, and Presidential appointees. This authority may be redelegated in writing.
- SES, Executive Schedule, Senior Level, Immigration Judges, and Presidential Appointees. The Deputy Attorney General or his or her designee approves incentive payments for all employees in these categories. Bureaus must submit requests for review and approval of incentives for these positions through the AAG/A.
- Service Agreement.
- Before any payments are made, a service agreement must be signed by the employee.
- Required Provisions. In addition to the regulatory requirements in 5 CFR 575.510, the service agreement will provide the:
- Amount of the incentive payment not to exceed the limits set forth in 5 CFR 575.507;
- Service period covered by the agreement;
- When and how the payment will be made;
- Conditions under which an agreement may be terminated;
- Requirements for the repayment of incentive payments, including, if any, repayment penalties, if an employee separates prior to completion of the service period; and
- Length of previous covered service periods ensuring that the employee will not exceed the five-year lifetime limitation for service in a particular territory, possession or commonwealth.
- Permissible Provisions. A service agreement may provide that:
- Periods of time, above a specified minimum amount, in a nonpay and/or paid leave status are not credited toward completion of the service agreement.
- Periods of time, above a specified minimum amount, on a detail are not credited toward completion of the service agreement.
- Where an employee leaves before completing a service agreement, and the portion of the service period worked exceeds the pro rata share of the incentive payments paid to the employee, the employee will receive all or part of the remaining payment attributable to the time period actually worked.
- Bureaus will be as consistent as practicable in determining the length of service agreements for employees in similar circumstances, taking into account the length of service agreements for employees receiving recruitment and relocation bonuses.
- As discussed at 5 CFR 575.511, repayment of an extended assignment incentive is not required where an employee is involuntarily separated or is involuntarily reassigned to a position where the incentive is inapplicable. Also, voluntary movement by an employee between bureaus within the Department is not treated as a failure to complete a service agreement, and the gaining bureau will reimburse the bureau that paid the incentive on a pro rata basis.
- The right of recovery of an employee's debt may be waived in whole or in part by the Attorney General, or his/her designee with delegated authority, if a determination is made that recovery would be against equity and good conscience or against the public interest (5 U.S.C. 5584).
C. Documentation and Reporting.
- Documentation. Written documentation will be prepared for each determination to pay an incentive, which must be available for Departmental or OPM review. The documentation will include sufficient information to clearly justify the payment of the incentive, including the following information:
- The criteria used to determine the need for paying the incentive and how the criteria were applied;
- Verification that the employee has continuously served at least two years in the area;
- The qualifications of the candidate/employee in sufficient detail to demonstrate they meet any special qualifications needed for the position; and
- The length of the service agreement and the criteria used to make the determination.
- Upon approval, payment of the incentive will be documented by preparing an SF-50 and filing it in the employee's OPF.
- Annual Reports. Each bureau will prepare an annual report on its use of extended assignment incentives. The reports will be submitted to the Director, Human Resources Staff, JMD, no later than October 31 covering the preceding FY. Each report will include:
- The number of employees to whom an incentive was offered, by occupational series, grade, and geographic location (city and state, or country);
- The dollar amount for each incentive paid;
- The number of employees who declined an extended assignment incentive, by occupational series, grade, and geographic location (city and state, or country);
- The number of employees who signed an extended assignment incentive service agreement, by occupational series, grade, and geographic location;
- The annual salary of each employee who was paid an incentive and the percentage of the incentive;
- The length of the service agreement related to each incentive;
- The number of employees whose service agreements were terminated before completion of the agreed-upon service period, indicating whether it was due to:
- The employee's involuntary separation;
- The employee's involuntary reassignment to a position outside the service agreement area;
- The component terminating the agreement; or
- The employee failing to fulfill the terms of the service agreement.
- The number of employees who incurred a repayment debt, including any repayment penalty, the total amount of repayment debt incurred, and the amount recovered. (Each component is responsible for tracking any debt, including ongoing collection efforts and the amount of debt waived or written off, until resolved in the report);
- A narrative discussion of the situations for which incentives were used, the effectiveness of the incentive authorities, whether the use of extended assignment incentives influenced employees to stay longer than their initial tour of duty at their current duty stations, and any recommendations for improving the use of the statutory authorities in terms of both regulatory change and Department requirements and flexibilities.