Washington, D.C. 20530
January 7, 2023
MEMORANDUM FOR BUREAU HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICERS
FROM: Valarie Mulcahy
Director, Human Resources
SUBJECT: Reemployment Priority List (RPL)
The Department’s Reemployment Priority List (RPL) is designed to provide employees who have lost their jobs through a reduction-in-force or who have recovered from a compensable injury with priority consideration over certain outside applicants for Department positions for which they are found to be well qualified. It is the discretion of components to consider RPL registrants before considering internal candidates.
Under the Office of Personnel Management regulations, all components, as well as field offices, are required to check the Department’s RPL before filling positions. The Department’s RPL may be found at www.justice.gov/jmd/hr-order-doj/rpl. The RPL identifies registrants by series and grade, who are eligible for priority consideration for positions for which they are well qualified in specified geographic areas. After Career Transition Assistant Program candidates, RPL registrants must be given priority consideration for any vacancies, which match the series, grade, and geographic location for which they are registered.
An individual who, after one year, is fully recovered from a compensable injury may also receive priority consideration in the former commuting area to the position they left, if vacant, or an equivalent position. If an individual cannot be placed in the former commuting area, they are entitled to priority consideration for an equivalent position elsewhere in the Department. Components must contact the Justice Management Division’s Human Resources (JMD/HR) to change a registrant’s commuting area.
Components must review the RPL prior to advertising and again before making a tentative job offer to the selected candidate. If there is an eligible registrant on the RPL, components must request the RPL registrant’s application from JMD/HR to determine if the registrant is qualified for the position. If you determine that the registrant is eligible and tender a job offer, then your responsibility under the RPL has been met. If you determine the registrant is not eligible for the position, you must request a waiver to bypass the applicant by providing a justification in writing to JMD/HR for review.
Questions regarding the RPL may be referred to Lynn Sutton, JMD/HR, HR Policy and Advisory Services via email at Lynn.Sutton2@usdoj.gov.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE REEMPLOYMENT PRIORITY LIST (RPL)
The RPL staff will remove a registrant's name from the list for all positions at or below the representative rate/grade level of a position he or she declines.
General Provisions. Any career or career conditional employee or wage grade equivalent, who has been certified by the servicing personnel office as being:
- under a specific reduction-in-force (RIF) notice of separation;
- separated as a result of RIF;
- in a position which has been determined by management to be excess, i.e., a position targeted for abolishment within the next ninety days; or
- who has fully recovered from a compensable injury after more than one year since the compensation began,
is eligible for registration into the RPL. Registration is voluntary on the part of the employee. An employing organization, having one or more competitive service vacancies to be filled, is precluded from filling such a vacancy by appointment from external sources (see "Definitions") or from certain prohibited internal sources (described in paragraph 4 below) while fully qualified and available RPL candidates remain on the RPL list for placement.
APPOINTMENT FROM EXTERNAL SOURCES - refers to career or career conditional appointment, term appointment or temporary appointment exceeding 90 days or extensions thereof, transfer, reinstatement (except that following an SES career appointment when the employee has guaranteed placement rights or that following military duty), and conversion from an excepted appointment to a competitive appointment. Excluded from the above are conversions from excepted to competitive service of those:
- Individuals who formerly held a competitive service position in the Department and are returning to the competitive service from an excepted position without a break in service;
- Employees of the Drug Enforcement Administration who are serving under the provisions of P.L. 94-503 (Percy Amendment);
- Criminal Investigators of the Drug Enforcement Administration who are serving under provisions of 5 CFR § 213.3201 (a);
- Presidential Management Interns appointed under 5 CFR § 213.3102 (ii);
- Bona fide cooperative education students serving under the provisions of 5 CFR § 213.3202 (a) through (d);
- Mentally retarded individuals who have served successfully for two years under the provisions of 5 CFR § 213.3102 (t);
- Veterans Readjustment Appointees (VRA) who have served successfully for two years under the provision of P.L. 95-520 or P.L. 97-72; and,
- Physically handicapped persons who have served successfully for two years under the provisions of 5 CFR § 213.3102 (u).
AVAILABLE - means the RPL candidate is entered on the RPL only for the commuting area in which separated.
BUREAU - means Bureau of Prisons; Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Immigration and Naturalization Service; U.S. Marshals Service; Executive Office for Immigration Review; Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys; Executive Office for U.S. Trustees; Office of Justice Programs; Office of the Inspector General; or collectively, the offices, boards, and divisions within the Department.
FULLY QUALIFIED - An eligible is deemed fully qualified for a given position if he/she meets basic X-118 qualification requirements, including selective placement factors, if any, and servicing personnel officials in conjunction with the RPL staff have determined that he/she can fully perform the duties of the position within 90 days without undue interruption to the activity.
RPL ELIGIBLES - A competitive status employee or wage grade equivalent, full or part-time permanent, who is in receipt of a specific reduction-in-force notice of proposed separation; or one who has been separated as a result of reduction-in-force; or one who occupies a position which has been determined by management to be excess, i.e., a position targeted for abolishment within 90 days; or one who is fully recovered after one year after a compensable injury.
Permissible Internal Actions. A selection of a RPL candidate whether on or off the rolls may be made at any time. Further, a personnel action to fill a vacancy may be effected without RPL staff office clearance when there is no match between series, grade levels, and locations for which RPL candidates are registered and the series, grade level, and location of the vacancy at hand. In addition, the following actions are permitted without regard to the existence of RPL candidates:
- Career Ladder promotion,
- Noncompetitive promotion stemming from accretion of duties not as a result of planned management action,
- Promotion resulting from the upgrading of a position without significant change in the duties and responsibilities due to issuance of a new classification standard or the correction of an initial classification error,
- A position change permitted by RIF regulations,
- A position change within a bureau not subject to competitive merit promotion/staffing procedures from a position having known promotion potential to a position having no higher potential,
- A reassignment within a bureau from one position to another position with no known promotion potential,
- A temporary promotion of 120 days or less,
- Repromotion to a grade or position from which an employee was demoted without personal cause and not at his or her request,
- An action taken as a remedy for failure to receive proper consideration in a competitive promotion action.
- A non-competitive appointment (5 CFR §330.205(c)(2).
Prohibited Internal Actions. If a fully qualified RPL candidate is available for a vacancy in terms of series, grade level and location, the following actions are prohibited:
- A position change between bureaus;
- A position change within a bureau subject to competitive merit promotion/staffing procedures.
If there is a match between RPL registrants and the vacancy at hand, the employing organization is obligated via its respective bureau level personnel office to contact the RPL staff office for referral of RPL candidates, before any of the above actions are undertaken to fill the position. (See also Appointment from External Sources in the "Definitions.")
Establishment of the Reemployment Priority List.
The RPL is the mechanism agencies use to give reemployment consideration to their former competitive service employees separated by reduction in force (RIF) or fully recovered from a compensable injury after more than 1 year. The RPL is a required component of agency positive placement programs. In filling vacancies, the agency must give RPL registrants priority consideration over certain outside job applicants and, if it chooses, also may consider RPL registrants before considering internal candidates.
Each agency is required to establish and maintain a reemployment priority list. All components of an agency are responsible for giving priority consideration to the RPL registrants.
The RPL Office is located at the Department headquarters under the Director of Personnel, Justice Management Division. The RPL Office publishes via the Department of Justice Website at www.usdoj.gov/jmd/ps/rpl.htm, a list of series, grade levels, and locations for which RPL candidates are registered. This is how employing organizations are apprised of the availability of RPL candidates for vacancies which arise within their respective organizations. The RPL list is updated as needed and must be reviewed by prospective employing organizations to see if there is a match between series, grade, and locations of RPL registrants against the series, grade, and location of vacancies in the employing organization. If there is such a match, it is at this point that appointment from external sources and prohibited internal actions may not be undertaken. It is also at this point that contact via the employing organization's bureau level personnel office and the RPL Office must be initiated for referral and consideration of RPL candidates.
When a vacancy has been identified as an opportunity subject to the priority placement of RPL candidates, the bureau level personnel officials will be responsible for conducting a search from among the applications of RPL eligibles for individuals determined to be fully qualified and available for the vacancy(ies) at hand. Selective placement factors, if any, associated with the position must be brought to the attention of the RPL staff at the outset of this initial search and may not be later modified. Referrals will be made in subgroup order, e.g., IA ahead of IB, IB ahead of IIA, etc., but without regard to order of standing within the subgroup. Similarly, appointing officials must make selections in subgroup order, but without regard to standing within the subgroup. It should be noted that in order to be considered and possibly selected from the RPL, the RPL eligible need not be rated and ranked as "best-qualified" as do candidates under merit promotion procedures. The RPL eligible does, however, have to meet valid selective placement factors of the position. The servicing personnel office is responsible for notifying each RPL eligible who is selected in an offer letter sent certified mail and return receipt requested; written acceptance or declination from the RPL eligible must be received by the servicing personnel office within five calendar days from receipt of the offer. The RPL staff must be immediately notified of any acceptances or declinations by phone, and a copy of the written response must be forwarded to the RPL staff for documentation purposes.
When a search of the applications of RPL eligibles is made and no candidates are identified as being fully qualified for the vacancy, the RPL staff will provide written clearance authorizing the servicing personnel office to initiate recruitment action through normal competitive procedures. This written clearance is effective for a six-week period, and only applies to the particular vacancy for which the initial search was conducted. It does not apply to future similar vacancies arising during the six-week period.
Displacement of Group III Employees.
While the procedures in paragraph 5 above center upon the filling of "vacancies" by RPL registrants, it should be noted that certain encumbered positions, i.e., those encumbered by tenure group III employees, are also a source for placement for RPL registrants in tenure group I. A RPL registrant in tenure group I is entitled to be placed in a position occupied by an employee in tenure group III, provided:
- The position is in the registrant's commuting area and is expected to last for a minimum period of 90 days from the date the registrant could be assigned;
- The group III employee is not a status quo employee
- The registrant is fully qualified and available;
- The position has a representative rate the same as or lower than the rate of the position from which the registrant is scheduled to be or has been separated;
- The registrant has not declined a position with the same or higher representative rate.
Contested Actions. Should disputes or disagreements arise concerning qualifications determinations or the manner in which the procedures under the RPL system are applied, the following measures shall provide the appropriate avenues of redress:
- Disagreement between RPL staff and bureau level personnel officials. If, upon initial search by bureau level personnel officials and RPL staff, there is disagreement as to the qualifications of one or more RPL registrants for the purposes of referral, the RPL staff office will appoint an ad hoc committee of three personnel specialists from bureaus not associated with the employing organization. It shall be the function of that committee to review the applications and related information of those RPL candidates whose qualifications are the subject of the disagreement, against the requirements of the position at hand. The committee will be provided a copy of the position description and a list of selective placement factors, if any, used in the initial search. The committee will make its determinations by majority rule and will provide the RPL staff with a brief report as to its findings. Determinations (findings) will be binding on both parties to the dispute and will be transmitted by the RPL staff to the cognizant bureau personnel office.
- Exceptions to RPL procedures. An employing organization may make an exception to RPL procedures and appoint a person not on the RPL list or a person in a lower subgroup on the list only when it is necessary to obtain an employee for duties that cannot be taken over without undue interruption to the employing organization by a person on the list or a person on the list with higher subgroup standing than the person appointed. A request for such exception must be signed by the employing organization's respective Office, Board, Division, or Bureau Director and be submitted to the Director of Personnel, Justice Management Division. The employing organization's servicing personnel office shall notify each RPL registrant affected by an appointment under this paragraph of the reasons for the exception and, where applicable, of his or her right of appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
- Registrant's right of appeal. An employee who has a specific reduction-in-force notice of separation or a former employee who has been separated by reduction-in-force who thinks his or her RPL rights under these procedures have been violated is entitled to appeal to the MSPB under the provisions of the Board's regulations by presenting factual information that he or she was denied placement or restoration rights because of the employment of another person. Employees may appeal actions to the MSPB any time during the period beginning with the day after the effective date of the action being appealed, but no later than 20 days after the effective date. A copy of MSPB's regulations, as found in 5 CFR § 1201 and the address of the appropriate MSPB office for filing the appeal will be obtained by the registrant from his or her serving personnel office.
Registration of RPL Eligibles. An employee who meets the criteria for entry into the RPL system, will at his or her request be registered by his of her servicing personnel office using the prescribed format. The employee may select up to three occupational series assuming he or she is qualified, as determined by the servicing personnel office, for the series selected. He or she is not limited to the number of grade levels for which consideration is desired except that he or she may not be registered for a higher grade than his or her current or last position held. The servicing personnel office must determine that the individual is, in fact, qualified for the grade level(s) in the series selected.
The employee may be entered on the RPL only for the commuting area in which separated except as provided in 5 CFR § 330.206 (a)(4), which covers employees in Alaska or overseas.
In addition, the employee must indicate whether or not he or she is available for temporary employment beyond 90 days, term employment, permanent employment, full-time and/or part-time employment. (Note that part-timers will ordinarily only be referred against part-time positions, and full-timers against full-time positions. However, if candidates from the one category are not available, the employing organization may request referral from the other category and vice versa.
The employee must also briefly summarize on the registration form in 25 words or less his or her employment strengths and special skills for ready reference purposes. The servicing personnel office is responsible for indicating the employee's current status, i.e., career or career conditional, full time or part time, and whether the employee has been separated as a result of RIF; is under a specific RIF notice of separation; is in a position determined to be excess, i.e., is targeted for abolishment within 90 days; or who has fully recovered from a compensable injury after more than one year since the compensation began.
The registration form once signed and dated by both the employee and the servicing personnel officer is to be forwarded in triplicate along with three copies of the employee's current SF-171, OF-612, or resume to:
Director of Personnel
Justice Management Division
Personnel Staff - Operations Group
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 1110
Washington, DC 20530
Updates/changes to the form may be made at any time by submitting a new form to the RPL Office.
- Duration of Eligibility. Career employees will remain in the RPL for 2 years and career conditional employees for 1 year from the date of separation, unless deleted under the provisions of paragraph 10 below.
- Deletions from the RPL. The RPL staff will completely remove a registrant's name from the RPL upon his or her
- Acceptance of a non-temporary, full time competitive position in the Federal service, regardless of its grade or pay;
- If his/her current or last position was part time, acceptance of a non-temporary, part-time competitive position in the Federal service, regardless of its grade or pay;
- Submission of a statement requesting deletion;
- Declination of a full-time competitive (or if his or her current or last position was part-time, a part- time) position offer in an area where he or she previously indicated availability with a representative rate not lower than that of the position from which separated or about to be separated.
- Failure to reply in writing to any position offer for which registered within 5 calendar days of receipt;
- Notification that he or she is no longer subject to separation as a result of RIF. (This situation arises when a specific RIF notice of separation is withdrawn, or when an employee who has certified as being in a position targeted for abolishment within 90 days is placed in a position not so targeted, or the original position is no longer so targeted.)
Compensable Injury (Fully Recovered After 1 Year). An employee who separated because of a compensable injury and whose recovery takes longer than 1 year from the date of eligibility for compensation began, is entitled to priority consideration, agencywide, for restoration to the position he or she left or an equivalent one provided he or she applies for reappointment within 30 days of the cessation of compensation. If the individual cannot be placed in the former commuting area, he or she is entitled to priority consideration for an equivalent position elsewhere in the agency. (5 CFR 353.301)
- Corrective Action. If an organization makes an appointment in violation of these provisions to the detriment of a qualified available RPL registrant, the matter will be brought to the attention of the Director of Personnel with recommendations as to corrective action. The Director's decision will be final. If, on the other hand, an employee appeals to the MSPB, and the MSPB determines that a violation has occurred in the application of these procedures and/or Office of Personnel Management policies, the MSPB will direct appropriate corrective action.
- Labor Relations Impact. These policies are not intended to abrogate the terms of an existing collective bargaining agreement. Additionally, in giving effect to this policy, organizations must, where appropriate, provide the exclusive representative with notice prior to implementation and an opportunity, if timely requested, to negotiate regarding its impact and implementation.
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