From time to time university faculty accept temporary assignments to work for a federal agency and an agreement between the agency and Virginia Tech is executed. These temporary assignments are accomplished through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program. The federal Office of Personnel Management has overall authority in setting the rules for IPAs.
1. What is required to develop an IPA?
Federal agencies solicit both technical and adminisrative assistance as the need arises. IPAs are contracted using a standard form OF-69 across all agencies. However, the process within each agency may differ and you should defer to the sponsoring agency for processing the form.
2. Am I still considered a Virginia Tech employee while on an IPA assignment?
Yes, while assigned on an IPA you will still be paid as a Virginia Tech employee with all eligible benefits.
3. Do I have to relocate while on an IPA?
Typically, federal agencies use IPAs to assist with their operations where they are located. Most assignments are in Washington, D.C. while some are spread throughout federal installations. However, IPAs can be executed for use on Virginia Tech's campus if the sponsoring agency agrees and the department / college agree to provide the space for the assignment.
4. What are my responsibilities to Virginia Tech while on an IPA?
Since you are still considered a Virginia Tech employee while on assignment, you will still maintain the responsibility for your annual faculty activity report and the submission of your monthly leave forms.
5. Are there limitations on when one can start and how long an IPA can be in existence?
As with any sponsored agreement, IPAs can be executed at anytime. You will need to confer with your department and dean to ensure that you allow time for them to replace your instructional responsibilties (if applicable). Assignment agreements are made for up to two years and may be intermittent, part-time, or full-time. The agency has the discretion of extending an assignment for an additional two years when the extension will be to the benefit of both organizations.
5 CFR part 334 states that an employee who has served for four continuous years on a single assignment may not be sent on another assignment without at least a 12-month return to duty with his or her regular employer. Successive assignments without a break of at least 60 calendar days will be regarded as continuous service under the mobility authority. The regulations prohibit a Federal agency from sending on assignment an employee who has served on mobility assignments for more than a total of six years. The Office of Personnel Management may waive this provision upon the written request of the agency head. In the case of assignments made to Indian tribes or tribal organizations, the agency head (or designee), may extend the period of assignment to any length of time where it is determined that the assignment will continue to benefit both the Federal agency and the Indian tribe or tribal organization.
6. Do agencies pay overhead on IPAs?
Typically no, however in recent years some sponsoring agencies have indicated that they will pay overhead. The Department of Defense Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, issued a memo to all DoD agencies instructing them that they should provide for reimbursement of facilities and administrative costs on IPAs. See memo.
7. Will my Virginia Tech job be guranteed upon conclusion of my IPA?
By agreeing to the IPA agreement, Virginia Tech assures at the completion of the assignment, the participating employee will be returned to the position that he or she occupied at the time of the agreement was executed or a position of like senority, status and pay.
8. How does Virginia Tech benefit from an IPA?
IPAs are similiar to academic sabatticals in that Virginia Tech benefits from the newfound knowledge that a participant accumulates while on the IPA. The sponsoring agency expects that upon returning from an assignment, the participant readily shares this knowledge with their colleagues.
9. If I relocate, will my moving expenses be paid and will I receive a cost of living differential?
A Federal agency may pay the travel expenses authorized under the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) (41 CFR chapters 301-304) chapter 301 of a Federal employee or non-Federal employee on an Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignment. An agency may pay a per diem allowance at the assignment location in accordance with FTR part 301-7, or the following limited relocation expenses:
An agency may select between payment of a per diem allowance at the assignment location or the limited relocation expenses, but may not pay both. However, an agency may pay per diem for travel away from the assignment location, even if it pays the limited relocation allowances, so long as the employee does not travel to his/her official station. An agency should consider the cost to the Federal Government to be a major factor when determining whether to pay a per diem allowance at the assignment location or limited relocation allowances. An agency should also consider the duration of the assignment. A per diem allowance is meant for shorter assignments. The payment of per diem for an indeterminate period or a period of more than one year is taxable to an employee, so an agency should not pay a per diem allowance for an assignment expected to last more than one year, or for an indefinite period.
If an agency pays a per diem allowance at the assignment location, the per diem allowance may be paid only for the individual on the mobility assignment. If an agency pays relocation, the agency may pay transportation expenses for the immediate family of the employee. An agency, however, cannot pay the expenses of selling or purchasing a residence, nor the expenses of property management services while the employee is on the assignment. An agency may not authorize a temporary change of station under subparts C and D of FTR part 302-1 to transfer an employee to the assignment location.
The employee must sign a service agreement for one year or the length of the assignment, whichever is shorter, to be eligible for payment of per diem at the assignment location or limited relocation expenses. The employee will be responsible for repaying any expenses if he or she fails to complete the service agreement, unless the reasons for failing to complete the agreement are beyond his or her control. In addition, Federal agency officials may waive the requirement to pay back expenses if they feel the waiver is justified. The service agreement does not cover travel expenses paid when the employee travels away from the assignment location.