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HR Order DOJ1200.1: Part 2. Compensation: Chapter 2-8, Foreign Language Awards (March 25, 2009)

A. References.


5 U.S.C. 4521-4523

Code of Federal Regulations


Key terms Law Enforcement Officer

Rate of basic pay

B.   Policy.

  1. This chapter establishes the Department's policy on paying foreign language awards to law enforcement officers (LEOs) under 5 U.S.C. 4521-4523. (Note:   there is no specific legal authority to pay foreign language awards to non-LEOs in the Department.)
  2. Before a foreign language award may be paid, the Director, Human Resources Staff, JMD must approve the component's written implementation plan.
  3. Consistent with the applicable provisions of law and this chapter, the approved implementation plan, and the availability of funds for such purpose, a LEO may be granted an annual cash award of up to five percent of the LEO's rate of basic pay for demonstrated proficiency and substantial use of one or more foreign languages in the performance of his or her official duties. No LEO may receive foreign language award amounts exceeding five percent of basic pay in any 12-month period.
  4. Exception.   LEOs for whom the foreign language capability is a condition of employment may not receive foreign language awards.
  5. Approval Authority.   Authority to approve foreign language awards is delegated to Bureau heads, and may be redelegated no lower than the level of the Bureau personnel officer. The Director, Human Resources Staff, JMD, approves foreign language awards for the OBDs. If specifically authorized by the implementation plan, awards may be approved on a group basis.
  6. Content of Implementation Plans.   An implementation plan must state:
    1. Criteria for determining the need to pay foreign language awards, including:
      1. The need to add additional LEOs with foreign language proficiency;
      2. Availability in the job market of qualified candidates with the necessary foreign language proficiency; and
      3. The extent to which the Department must pay for the acquisition or enhancement of foreign language proficiency.
    2. Procedures under which foreign language proficiency will be assessed.
    3. Criteria for selecting awardees and for determining the amounts of foreign language awards, including, as appropriate:
      1. The LEO's degree of language proficiency;
      2. The degree to which proficiency in the particular language contributes to mission attainment; and
      3. The level of language proficiency used on a recurring basis in the performance of the LEO's assigned duties.
    4. A requirement to document the time frame for which the payment is made. Payments may be made on the basis of:
      1. The 12-month period beginning on the date of payment,
      2. The calendar year, or
      3. The fiscal year.

C.   Documentation and Reporting.

  1. Documentation. Written documentation will be prepared to support each determination to pay a foreign language award. A single determination may be made for foreign language awards approved on a group basis. The documentation will include sufficient information to clearly justify the payment of the award in accordance with the provisions of the implementation plan, and must be available for Departmental or OPM review upon request.
  2. Upon approval, payment of a foreign language award will be documented by preparing an SF-50, and filing it in the LEO's OPF.
  3. Annual reporting.   Each Bureau paying foreign language awards will report on the number of LEOs authorized to receive awards for each FY. This report will be submitted to the Director, Human Resources Staff, JMD, no later than October 31 covering the preceding FY.

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Updated May 7, 2021