Federal agencies and employees

Federal Agencies may detail or transfer employees to any organization that the Department of State has designated an international organization.

A detail or transfer may not exceed 5 years but may be extended 3 additional years upon the approval of the head of the agency and the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.

Employees who transferred are entitled to be reemployed (as provided in 5 CFR 352 Subpart C) in their former position or one of like status within 30 days of application for reemployment subject to prior approval by the Federal Agency.

Upon reemployment, employees are entitled to the same rate of pay they would have been entitled to had they remained continuously in the Federal service and sick leave restored to its status at the time they left Federal service.

Federal agencies

Federal agencies can promote American citizen employment in international organizations by detailing or transferring their employees and funding Junior Professional Officer positions.

How to Detail and Transfer

  1. Estimate agency costs

    Prior to approving a request for transfer, agencies should estimate all costs (financial and staffing) and document which bureau, department, or office within the agency will be responsible for those costs over the time period of the detail.

  2. Notify employees of their rights, benefits and responsibilities

    At the time the detail or transfer is being negotiated, the agency must provide the employee in writing with:

    • Notification of the start date and length of transfer;
    • Notification that during the transfer and the period for reemployment, he/she may retain retirement, life insurance, health benefits coverage, and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP);
    • Notification of his/her right to designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive money due;
    • Notification that the agency will pay directly the U.S. Governments contributions to the U.S. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Federal Employees Group Life Insurance and Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, as well as any other costs the agency may be required, by law, to assume in the case of a U.S. Federal foreign or civil servant employee;
    • Summary of the conditions he/she must meet to maintain the above benefits, including a schedule of required payments;
    • Summary of the steps he/she must take to exercise his/her reemployment rights, including instructions to employee to apply for reemployment no later than 90 calendar days after separation from the international organization;
    • Summary statement of his/her leave account.
  3. Record approval of detail or transfer

    The personnel action authorizing the detail or transfer should identify:

    • The international organization to which the employee transfers;
    • The legal and regulatory conditions of his/her reemployment; and
    • If on transfer, the period of time during which the employee has reemployment rights in the agency.
  4. Notify other offices of the approved detail or transfer

    When a detail or transfer has been approved, the officer’s agency (normally the Human Resources Office) should notify other responsible departments, bureaus, and other offices of the detail or transfer. These should include those offices dealing with:

    • Records Management (Official Personnel File)
    • Payroll
    • Allowances and Benefits (health/life)
    • Reemployment
  5. Maintain a file on each employee going on detail or transfer

Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programs

U.S. federal government agencies may sponsor U.S. citizens to work for international organizations through Junior Professional Officer programs (sometimes referred to as Associate Expert or Associate Professional Officer programs.) These programs are administered by individual international organizations and a great way for Member States to support the work of an organization as well as the career development of its nationals.

Federal agencies can sponsor JPOs with any international organization with whom the U.S. government has a signed Memorandum of Understanding. Please visit our JPO page for more information about current U.S. JPO partnerships.

If you are interested in partnering with an organization that is not on our list, please contact us for more information.

Federal Employees

Eligible U.S. government employees may be detailed or transferred to certain international organizations (IOs) in which the United States participates. Authority and procedures for such details and transfers are found in: 5 U.S.C. §§ 3343, 358l-3584 and 5 C.F.R. and §§ 352.301 through 352.314.

How do I negotiate and approve a detail or transfer?

Upon receipt of a written request from an international organization for the services of an employee, an agency may approve and authorize the detail or transfer of the employee to the organization for any period, not to exceed five (5) years.

The agency retains the option of refusing the request for a transfer to an international organization. Refusal to grant such a request is not appealable.

At the time of approval of transfer, the employee must agree, and acknowledge in writing to the agency, those federal benefits (and required payments) which he/she wishes to retain while on transfer, including retirement, health benefits, life insurance, and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

Note: At the formal request of an international organization or a federal official, and subject to prior approval by the agency, no leave shall be charged to an employee who is absent for a maximum of three days to interview for a proposed detail or transfer. Also, an agency may approve official travel within the United States in connection with such an interview.

What about my federal benefits?

Federal employees serving on appointments of one year or more can detail or transfer to an international organization and retain certain rights and benefits offered by the federal government.

At the time of approval of a transfer to an international organization, a federal agency must offer the employee the opportunity to continue participating in his or her current retirement, health benefits, and group life insurance programs while seconded to an international organization, and indicate in writing that it will continue to make the agency’s share of contributions to these programs. To retain such coverage, however, the employee must make his or her contributions during the entire period of the secondment. If the employee fails to make such contributions, benefits will be lost during the period of secondment.

An employee is not eligible to participate in TSP while employed by the international organization, but upon reemployment, if the employee opted to retain federal retirement coverage, he or she may make contributions to the TSP and receive make-up agency contributions and lost earnings on the agency contributions that he or she missed as a result of service to the international organization.

If the employee retained coverage while on transfer, upon reemployment, the period of separation covered by the transfer is eligible to be deemed employment by the United States. Note that double retirement coverage is not permitted. The employee may not earn and retain credit toward a U.S. government retirement benefit for a period of service at an international organization if that same period of service is used to qualify for the international organization’s retirement plan.

Special conditions exist for employees covered by the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) or the Foreign Service Pension System (FSPS). Legislation passed in August 1994 permits continuation of contributions to the FERS and FSPS systems and payment of Social Security (FICA) taxes, enabling FERS and FSPS employees to earn retirement credit while on transfer. Retirement credit may be earned upon payment of the required employee’s share of contributions to the agency from which the employee transferred.

While on detail, your Agency will continue to pay your salary, allowances, and benefits directly. Your agency, in accordance with their rules and regulations and any contractual arrangements, will provide all social security coverage, including pension, insurance against illness, accident, disability and death, whether service incurred or not.

Agencies can also be responsible for the cost of travel and relocation of the employee (his/her immediate family) and transportation of his/her personal effects between his/her place of residence and his/her duty station on appointment and repatriation, in accordance with its rules and regulations.

The annual, sick, and home leave entitlements of the employee will continue to be administered by the Department, and determined in accordance with the terms of the contract between the employee and the agency.

What are my reemployment rights?

If an agency approves a transfer to an international organization, it must grant reemployment rights to the employee. The transfer period is deemed creditable service for all appropriate employment purposes, including tenure, service computation date, federal retirement, and time in grade.

A transferred employee must apply for reemployment to his or her former agency, in writing, within 90 days after separating without cause from the international organization. However, it is to the employee’s advantage to notify the former agency at least six months prior to the end of employment at the international organization of any intention to return to the federal agency.

An agency must reemploy the employee within 30 days of applying for reemployment.

Upon reemployment, an employee is entitled to be restored to his or her former position, or one of like seniority, status, and pay that he or she would have been entitled if he or she had remained in U.S. government employment.

Employment Conditions of Details or Transfers

Employees on secondment shall be considered a staff member of the IO during the period of the detail/transfer and shall be under the technical and administrative supervision of the IO.

The employee’s immediate IO supervisor may provide statements concerning the quality of the employee’s performance to the agency from which he/she was detailed/transferred.

Hours of duty are to be mutually agreed between the employee and the IO.

The employee shall be entitled to annual and sick leave in accordance with their originating agency’s regulations governing Foreign or Civil Service employees. The details of this process are determined by an agreement between the agency and the employee. Often, these agreements include provisions such as:

  1. Each application for sick and annual leave must be approved by the employee’s IO supervisor
  2. Requests for sick and annual leave will be recorded on OPM Standard Form SF-71, Application for Leave, and forwarded to the employee’s home agency.
  3. The employee will be excused from duty on all U.S. Federal holidays, if not otherwise scheduled for duty, without charge to annual leave. They may be excused from duty on a local holiday without charge of duty station.

Applicability of Regulations and Policies of IOs

The rules and policies governing the internal operation and management of the IO will apply to the employee.

The rules and policies of both the IO and U.S. Government governing standards of conduct shall apply to the employee.

Because the detailee is participating in a U.S. Government retirement plan, the IO will agree to exclude the employee from coverage under the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund and other accident, illness, and health insurance coverages.

The obligations of the IO are strictly limited to the express terms and conditions of the agreement that is drafted to cover such employment. The employee is not entitled to any other payment, allowance, grant or indemnity, including compensation for any service incurred event.

If included in the agreement, the IO may cover all travel costs and applicable per diem to the employee for all duty travel directed by the IO in accordance with the IO rules and regulations.

If included in the agreement, the IO may be required to reimburse the U.S. Government agency for 50% of special allowances for education, cost of living, and housing. In addition, the IO may reimburse the Agency for 50% of costs for travel of the officer and family members and transportation of household goods and personal effects to and from the place of assignment.

Approved International Organizations

A federal agency may detail or transfer an employee to any organization that the Department of State has designated as an international organization. The list below does not determine whether an entity is an international organization for the purpose of other statutes or regulations, it is solely for the purpose of detailing or transferring federal employees.

While the U.S. government participates in other international organizations not listed here, the degree of participation may not be enough to warrant designating the organization an IO for the purpose of details and transfers. The Department of State will consider the status of such organizations under the detail and transfer statutory provisions on a case-by-case basis when requested to do so by Federal agencies.

Federal agencies interested in learning more about how to add an organization to the list should contact us for information on the process.

United Nations

  • United Nations Secretariat (UN)
  • UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)
  • UN Children's Fund (UNICEF)
  • UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
  • UN Development Program (UNDP)
  • UN Environmental Program (UNEP)
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • UN Human Settlements Program (UN HABITAT)
  • UN International Training and Research Center (UNITAR)
  • UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
  • UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
  • UN University (UNU)
  • UN Volunteers (UNV)
  • International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • International Civil Service Commission (ICSC)
  • International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
  • International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW)
  • Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
  • World Food Program (WFP)

Note: Because the United Nations qualifies as an international organization in which the United States government participates within the meaning of Public Law 89-554 as amended, organs and special programs of the United Nations usually qualify under the statute as well. The list, therefore, is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive. Please contact us with questions as to whether other organs or special programs of the United Nations not on the above list qualify under the statute.

Specialized Agencies of the United Nations

  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
  • International Labor Organization (ILO)
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO)
  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • Universal Postal Union (UPU)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  • World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

International Financial Institutions

  • Bank for International Settlements (BIS)
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • North American Development Bank (NADB)
  • UN Regional Development Banks
  • African Development Bank
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
  • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
  • World Bank Group
  • International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (IBRD)
  • International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  • Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)

Inter-American Organizations

  • Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC)
  • Inter-American Center of Tax Administrators (CIAT)
  • Inter-American Indian Institute (IAII)
  • Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA)
  • Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI)
  • Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)
  • Organization of American States (OAS)
  • Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
  • Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH)
  • Pan American Railway Congress Association (ACPF) (Argentina)
  • Postal Union of the Americas, Spain and Portugal (PUASP)

Other Regional Organizations

  • Asia Pacific Energy Research Center (APERC)
  • Colombo Plan Council
  • Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC)
  • International Energy Agency (IEA)
  • Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC)
  • North Atlantic Assembly (NAA)
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  • Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA)
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)

Other International Organizations

  • Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
  • Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)
  • Commission for Labor Cooperation
  • Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
  • Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
  • COSPAS-SARSAT (Search and Rescue Satellite System)
  • Energy Charter Conference (ECC)
  • Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
  • The Global Fund (to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) (TGF)
  • The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCOPIL)
  • International Agreement on the Maintenance of Certain Lights in the Red Sea
  • International Bureau for the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
  • International Bureau for the Protection of Industrial Property
  • International Bureau for the Publication of Customs Tariffs
  • International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM)
  • International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
  • International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)
  • International Coffee Organization (ICO)
  • International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT)
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)
  • International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
  • International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)
  • International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
  • International Development Law Organization (IDLO)
  • International Energy Forum Secretariat (IEFS)
  • International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)
  • International Grains Council (IGC)
  • International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSP)
  • International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)
  • International Institute for Cotton
  • International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT)
  • International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO)
  • International Organization for Legal Metrology (OIML)
  • International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI)
  • International Plant Genetics Resources Institute (IPGRI)
  • International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
  • International Rubber Study Group (IRSG)
  • International Science and Technology Center (ISTC)
  • International Seed Testing Association (ISTA)
  • International Service for National Agriculture Research (ISNAR)
  • International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO)
  • International Trade Center (ITC)
  • International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)
  • International Union of Credit and Investment Insurers (Berne Union)
  • International Whaling Commission (IWC)
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
  • Iran-United States Claims Tribunal
  • ITER International Fusion Energy Organization (ITER)
  • Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO)
  • Multinational Force and Observers (MFO)
  • North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)
  • North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC)
  • Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
  • Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO)
  • Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses (PIANC)
  • Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC)
  • Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU)
  • Sierra Leone Special Court
  • World Customs Organization (WCO)
  • The World Heritage Fund
  • World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)

Relevant Legislation