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FAQs & Resources > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Federal Employee Details and Transfers to International Organizations (IO)

What are the procedures to follow for U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) interested in an international organization assignment?

Apply directly to the international organization that you are interested in and once you have a written offer that you have been selected for that position contact Mary Ann Thomas in HR/CDA/SL/CDT to finalize your reassignment. FSOs must curtail their onward or current assignment and obtain approval for reemployment rights back to the Department. Ultimately, the Bureau that you would have been assigned to will be the action Bureau facilitating the necessary paperwork.

What is the difference between a Detail and a Transfer?

“Second” can refer to either a detail or transfer. A federal employee on transfer to an international organization becomes an employee of, and is paid by, that organization. An employee on detail is "assigned" or "loaned" to an international organization and continues to be accounted for and paid by the home agency. Please visit the federal employees and agencies pages for more detailed information.

How long can I be detailed or transferred to an IO?

A federal agency can transfer or detail an employee to an international organization for up to five years without approval of the U.S. Department of State. In order to obtain an extension of up to three years, the IO needs to write a letter to your home agency requesting the extension citing justification. Your home agency will then request approval for an extension from the U.S. Department of State. Please contact us for more information on extensions.

What are the changes to the regulations published October 31, 2008 pertaining to transfers and details of individuals to international organizations (IO)?

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) changed the regulations to eliminate the "equalization allowance" paid to employees who transfer to an international organization upon return to the employing agency. In the past the equalization allowance guaranteed that the amount of payments for an employee who transferred to an IO were no less than the amount the employee would have received had the employee been detailed to the IO. For example: if the cumulative pay, allowances, or other monetary benefits paid by the IO to the transferred employee were less than what the agency would have paid to an employee on detail, the employing agency was required by law to make up the difference of those payments. Congress eliminated payment of this allowance in Section 2504 of Public Law 105-277. The updated regulation also clarified the Department of State as being the agency responsible for designating an organization as an IO for the purposes of 5 CFR 352 subpart C. Agencies with questions regarding the designation of such organizations should contact us.

Why did OPM make these changes to the regulations?

OPM made these changes to be consistent with Section 2504 of Public Law 105-277 in which Congress repealed the equalization allowance upon an employee's return to Federal service after transferring from an international organization. In the past OPM has acted as a middleman for exchanging information between the agencies and the Department of State on designation of international organizations. With this new regulation, agencies with questions regarding the designation of organizations should contact the Department of State's Bureau of International Organizations.

Are individuals serving on temporary appointments eligible for transfers to international organizations?

No, per 5 CFR 353.307, employees serving on temporary appointments are not eligible for transfer to an international organization.

Are individuals serving on term appointments eligible for transfers or details to international organizations?

Yes, agencies may transfer or detail an employee serving on a term appointment to an international organization in accordance with the provisions of 5 CFR 352 subpart C. Upon return, employees serving on term appointments that are transferred or detailed to an IO serve out the unexpired portion of their term appointment. If the appointment expires while the individual is on transfer or detail, the individual has no reemployment right back to the agency they left prior to assignment.

How do agencies determine the pay of an employee transferred or detailed to an international organization if the agency is under a pay for performance system where pay is linked directly to performance?

Federal agencies are required by regulation to set pay for returning employees according to the system the agency has in place. In the case of a transfer employee's reemployment from an international organization, payment of salary begins upon reemployment and only the basic pay is set according to 5 U.S.C. §3582 and §3583. Employees who are reemployed after transfer from an international organization should have their salaries set under the same agency policy and procedures in place according to 5 CFR 531 subparts B and D. Detailed employees remain as employees of the agency for all intents and purposes and should be treated as such.

How does an agency make pay actions effective, "as if the employee was not absent" as stated in 5 CFR, section 352.314?

Upon reemployment from an international organization, the effective dates for pay actions are retroactive, but not the pay. For example: an employee is transferred to an international organization on March 2, 2008; is due a with-in-grade increase in May 2008, and the agency reemploys the employee on September 1, 2008. The agency would effect the within grade increase in May 2008 and the employee would be reemployed at the higher step upon return. Because employees who transfer are no longer employees of the agency, agencies should refer to OPM's Guide to Processing Personnel Actions for information on processing various pay changes that occur while an employee is transferred to an international organization. Employees are not entitled to back pay while absent during transfer to an international organization.

How does an agency evaluate an employee detailed or transferred to an international organization if the organization has an evaluation system that is not performance based?

Agencies must evaluate employee performance in accordance with policies and procedures established pursuant to applicable laws and regulations. For agencies subject to title 5, they must comply with the requirements found in 5 CFR Part 430. These provisions require agencies to establish procedures in their performance appraisal programs for evaluating performance when they transfer or detail individuals to another position. This includes assignments to IOs, which may not have performance-based evaluation systems. In these situations, agencies must determine whether they will be able to obtain performance input from the gaining organization so the supervisor of record can do the performance appraisal. If not, the employee would be unrateable for the applicable appraisal period.

How does an agency determine the effective dates for career ladder promotions for employees transferred or detailed to international organizations?

Employing agencies are required by regulation to set pay for returning employees according to the system the agency has in place. As mentioned above effective dates are retroactive, and it is at the discretion of the agency whether a returning transferred employee in a career ladder position is promoted immediately upon return. If the employee's performance has not been evaluated prior to transfer to an international organization, the agency head has the discretion to determine the effective date of promotion. Agencies should follow their established merit promotion plan or union agreement, as applicable when promoting all employees.

While an employee is detailed or transferred to an international organization and his or her position is upgraded, how does the agency effect this change?

The agency must place the employee in the upgraded position effective the date the position is upgraded (i.e., the agency would process this action in the same manner as if the employee were present). This action does not require the employee to return to the agency before being promoted. Agencies with pay-for-performance systems must comply with applicable guidance pertaining to their pay/compensation system.

While an employee is detailed or transferred to an international organization and his or her position is downgraded, how does the agency effect this change?

The employee is downgraded in the position without a loss of entitlements effective upon return to the downgraded position or one similar to the position the employee left.

What does the phrase "all appropriate civil service employment purposes" mean as used in 5 CFR 352.311 (d)?

The phrase "all appropriate civil service employment purposes" applies to such factors or considerations as: time in grade, tenure, service computation dates, etc.

How do these rules apply to Foreign Service employees?

Foreign Service officers (FSO) and Foreign Service information officers (FSIO), including Presidential appointees to these positions (see 5 CFR 352.307), are eligible for detail or transfer to an international organization. However, because these positions are covered by Title 22, United States Code, OPM strongly encourages agencies to review all applicable Title 22 U.S.C. provisions to ensure assignments of FSOs and FSIOs are made in accordance with these provisions.

How are employees detailed to an international organization handled in the event of a reduction in force (RIF)?

Detailed employees remain employees of the employing organization and compete in a RIF as if they were not on detail.

How are employees transferred to an international organization handled in the event of a reduction in force (RIF)?

An employee who transfers to an international organization under this authority no longer holds an official position of record in the agency and is not a competing employee in the event of a RIF. A transferred employee is entitled to be reemployed in his/her former position or in a position similar to the one the employee left, with the same status and pay. If the agency is unable to reemploy the transferred employee because no position is available, the agency must reemploy the employee for the purpose of providing reemployment rights. In the event of a concurrent RIF notice, before separation, the agency must provide the employee with information on how to appeal the agency's decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Are international organizations (IO) required to reimburse Federal agencies for employees on details?

Details may be made with or without reimbursement to the employing agency by the IO or with agreement by the IO to reimburse all or part of pay, travel expenses, or other allowances. Agencies may credit reimbursements to the appropriations fund or account from which the payments were made.

Are agencies required to reimburse employees detailed or transferred to an international organization (IO) for any expenses the employee incurs as a result of the assignment?

Agencies are not required to reimburse employee expenses resulting from a detail or transfer to an IO. However, IOs may pay or reimburse detailed employees without regard to 18 U.S.C., Sec. 209, (Salary of government officials and employees payable only by United States), for expenses incurred while performing duties required by the detail. If the reimbursement from the IO is less than what the employee would receive, under agency internal policies, the agency may reimburse the employee for the difference. Employees may not accept reimbursement from both organizations for the same expense.

Can Federal agencies charge leave for employees to interview at the international organization?

Agencies may excuse employees without charge to annual leave to interview for a proposed detail or transfer. Official travel within the US may also be approved for this purpose.

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