OPM targets recruiting incentives

Agencies could come under greater scrutiny

The Office of Personnel Management wants enhanced oversight of federal agencies’ use of recruitment, relocation and retention incentives by requiring annual reviews of the incentives and possibly mandating new reporting requirements.

OPM published a proposed rule Jan. 7 in the Federal Register that would require agencies to review their decisions to offer group recruitment incentives for similar jobs that are difficult to fill. The rule would require the reviews at least once per year. 


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The proposed rule would also make it harder for employees to get relocation incentive payments. It would require them to maintain residency in a new geographic area for the duration of the employment agreement to get relocation incentive payments. Employees are currently only required to establish residency in the new area.

OPM is further proposing that agencies review each determination to pay a retention incentive at least annually, “to determine whether the original determination to pay the retention incentive still applies or whether the payment is warranted and certify this determination in writing."

Agencies may also be asked to submit data on recruitment, relocation and retention incentives to OPM on an annual basis, according to the proposed rule.

The rule would revise employee eligibility to allow an agency to pay incentives to an employee in a Senior Executive Service position who serves as a career appointee, even if the employee is appointed by the president without the consent of the Senate.

The rule builds on OPM’s 2009 efforts to ensure the effective use of the incentives, known as the “3Rs.”

“The cost of using any of these pay flexibilities should be weighed against the benefits to be gained,” OPM Director John Berry wrote in a May 2009 memo to federal agency heads. “This is especially important when it comes to retention incentives, which account for the clear majority of 3Rs costs in 2007 at $127 million.”

In July 2009, OPM asked federal agencies to review and, if needed, update their 3Rs programs. Later that same year, OPM convened a work group of experts from the 12 federal agencies to develop recommendations on strengthening the management of incentive authorities.

 

About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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