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Term Appointment Policy


Subject: Term Appointments

The current work environment of continuing funding uncertainties, shifting project priorities, and emphasis on downsizing, presents management with multiple program and financial challenges as we strive to accomplish mission objectives while managing the workforce. With this is mind, it is necessary that management not only be aware of staffing alternatives that can provide them with the required flexibilities, but that in using them they do so appropriately. One available option, is that of term appointments. While it has been utilized quite a bit over the past decade, increased interest in it and the flexibilities the appointing authority presents, indicate a need to provide the following information to insure a clear understanding of it and its appropriate uses.

Time Limits

Term appointments must be made for an initial period of more than 1 year but cannot be made for more than a total of 4 years. In the past, term appointments initially made for less than 4 years, could be extended up to the maximum 4 year period without competition. However, current Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP) regulations issued by the Office of Human Resources Management (OPM) effective on July 9, 1997, require that extensions of temporary and term appointments for more than 120 days be advertised to allow for the application and consideration of displaced and surplus (as defined in the CTAP regulations) employees, unless the original announcement stated that such extensions could be made. This requirement to advertise prior to effecting an extension of appointment only applies if the initial term appointment was made on or after February 29, 1996. It is not necessary to clear the reemployment priority list when extending a term appointee as long as the employee has not gone off the rolls of the agency.

In addition, there is no authority to extend term appointments beyond 4 years. However, in rare circumstances, when it can be demonstrated that an appointee's services are needed for an additional period (generally 1 year or less) for reasons such as to complete a project, OPM may grant a variation to allow the employee to remain employed for the additional time period.

Appropriate Uses

Use of the term appointing authority is appropriate when there is project work to be conducted; an extraordinary workload due to reorganization; scheduled abolishment, or contracting out of a function; uncertainty of future funding; or the need to maintain permanent positions for placement of employees who would otherwise be displaced from other parts of the organization.

Inappropriate Uses

It is inappropriate to use the term appointing authority when it is known that the same or essentially similar work will continue to be performed indefinitely. Once a position has been filled by term appointment for a period of four years, and it appears that the same work will continue, management should utilize a permanent appointment or other nontemporary means to accomplish the continuing work unless conditions are present that warrant use of the term appointing authority. To do otherwise, would violate the spirit and intent of the appointing authority, likely negatively impact the morale of the employee incumbering the position, and raise a question of propriety in our use of this authority.

Other Limitations On Term Appointments

Unless within reach on an OPM certificate of eligibles or eligible for noncompetitive appointment (e.g. based on reinstatement, Veterans Readjustment Authority, or Peace Corps service), a term appointee can only be reassigned, promoted, or changed to a lower grade to other positions within the same project (either inside or outside of the employee's current duty station) which the agency has authority to fill by term appointment. Reassignments, promotions, and changes to lower grade of this nature, cannot exceed 4 years from the employee's initial term appointment effective date.

Selection of Term Appointees

Term appointments are generally made on a competitive basis from an OPM certificate of eligibles. Some exceptions to this are when the selectee previously attained Federal status, or possesses eligibility for appointment under a noncompetitive appointing authority.

Benefits and Rights

Term appointees are eligible to elect health and life insurance; earn sick and annual leave as long as they are on a full or part time work schedule; and are covered under the Federal retirement system and the Department's performance management system. They are tenure group 3 employees, and as such, have first round competition rights should there be a reduction-in-force (RIF). This means that during a RIF, term appointees compete with other tenure group 3 employees in their competitive area who are in positions essentially identical to theirs (same series, grade, and competitive level). While management is not required to offer round two (bump and retreat) rights to term employees, management has the discretion to extend bump rights to term employees within tenure group 3. Management also has the discretion to offer term employees who receive a RIF separation notice career transition outplacement services. In addition, after 1 year of continuous service, term appointees are entitled to adverse action procedures should conduct or performance issues arise.

Certification Procedures

As the individual with first hand knowledge of the position being filled, effective immediately, selecting officials are responsible for certifying that the use of the term appointing authority is appropriate and meets all requirements stipulated in 5 CFR 316, Subpart C (attached). The certification statement (attached) is required and should be included in the remarks section of FPPS when a request to recruit for or extend a term appointment is submitted to the SPO.

Any questions you may have regarding term appointments may be directed to your Servicing Human Resources Office.


I have read the rules in 5 CFR 316 relating to term appointments and certify that the proposed appointment meets the regulatory requirements. A term appointment is being made for the following reason:

[Code of Federal Regulations] [Title 5, Volume 1, Parts 1 to 699]
[Revised as of January 1, 1997]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 5CFR316]

[Page 164-169]


CHAPTER I--Office of Human Resources MANAGEMENT


Subpart A--[Reserved]

Subpart B--TAPER Employment

316.201 Purpose and duration.
316.202 Eligibility of TAPER employees for within-grade increases.

Subpart C--Term Employment

316.301 Purpose and duration.
316.302 Selection of term employees.
316.303 Tenure of term employees.
316.304 Trial period.
316.305 Eligibility for within-grade increases.

Subpart D--Temporary Limited Employment

316.401 Purpose and duration.
316.402 Procedures for making temporary appointments.
316.403 Designation of provisional appointments.

Subpart E--[Reserved]

Subpart F--Appointment Without Competitive Examination in Rare Cases

316.601 Appointment without competitive examination in rare cases.

Subpart G--Retention of Incumbents of Positions Brought into the Competitive Service

316.701 Public or private enterprise taken over by Government.
316.702 Excepted positions brought into the competitive service.
316.703 Effect on tenure of position change of status quo employees.

Subpart H--[Reserved]

Authority: 5 U.S.C. 3301, 3302 and E.O. 10577 (3 CFR 1954-1958 Comp. p. 218); Sec. 316.302 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 3304(c), 22 U.S.C. 2506 (94 Stat. 2158); 38 U.S.C. 2014, and E.O. 12362, as revised by E.O. 12585; Sec. 316.402 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 3304(c) and 3312, 22 U.S.C. 2506 (93 Stat. 371), E.O. 12137, 38 U.S.C. 2014, and E.O. 12362, as revised by E.O. 12585 and E.O. 12721.

Source: 33 FR 12423, Sept. 4, 1968, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A--[Reserved]

Subpart B--TAPER Employment

Sec. 316.201 Purpose and duration.

(a) General. OPM may authorize an agency to fill a vacancy by temporary appointment pending establishment of a register (TAPER appointment) when there are insufficient eligibles on a register appropriate for filling the vacancy in a position that will last for a period of more than 1 year and the public interest requires that the vacancy be filled before eligibles can be certified. The agency must follow the provisions of part 333 of this chapter when making a TAPER appointment.

(b) Specific authority for Worker-Trainee positions. Agencies may make TAPER appointments to positions at GS-1, WG-1, and WG-2 and may reassign or promote the appointees to other positions through grade GS- 3, WG-4, or equivalent grades in the Federal Wage System.

[60 FR 3058, Jan. 13, 1995]

Sec. 316.202 Eligibility of TAPER employees for within-grade increases.

A TAPER employee serving in a position subject to the General Schedule is eligible for within-grade increases in accordance with subpart D of part 531 of this chapter.

Subpart C--Term Employment

Sec. 316.301 Purpose and duration.

An agency may make a term appointment for a period of more than 1 year but not more than 4 years when the need for an employee's services is not permanent. Reasons for making a term appointment include, but are not limited to: project work, extraordinary workload, scheduled abolishment, reorganization, or contracting out of the function, uncertainty of future funding, or the need to maintain permanent positions for placement of employees who would otherwise be displaced from other parts of the organization.

[60 FR 3058, Jan. 13, 1995]

[[Page 165]]

Sec. 316.302 Selection of term employees.

(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, when making a term appointment an agency shall select an eligible from a register.

(b) The Office may authorize an agency to make term appointments outside a register when there are insufficient eligibles on the appropriate register.

(c) An agency may give a term appointment without regard to the existence of an appropriate register to:

(1) A person with eligibility for reinstatement;

(2) Any veteran who meets the qualifications for a veterans readjustment appointment is eligible for employment under this paragraph. The Office will prescribe instructions and guidance in FPM Chapter 316 on implementing term employment for veterans readjustment appointment eligibles.

(3) A person eligible for career or career-conditional employment under Secs. 315.601, 315.605, 315.606, 315.607, 316.608, 315.609, or 315.703 of this chapter.

(4) A former term employee of the agency who left prior to the expiration of his or her appointment. Reappointment must be to a position covered by the same term authority under which the individual previously served, and service under such reappointment may not exceed the expiration date of the original term appointment;

(5) A disabled veteran who has been retired from active military service with a disability rating of 30 percent or more, or has been rated by the Veterans Administration within the preceding year as having a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more.

(6) A person eligible for acquisition of competitive status for career appointment under section 3304(c) of title 5, United States Code. However, a term employee does not acquire a competitive status on the basis of this term appointment; nor does this term appointment extend or terminate the employee's eligibility under 5 U.S.C. 3304(c).

(7) A temporary employee who was within reach for term appointment to the same position from an appropriate register at the time of his/her temporary appointment, or during subsequent service in the position, provided that the register was being used for term appointments at the time the employee was reached and he or she has been continuously employed in the position since being reached.

[44 FR 44813, July, 31, 1979, as amended at 46 FR 61065, Dec. 15, 1981; 47 FR 27539, June 25, 1982; 49 FR 5601, Feb. 14, 1984; 50 FR 13173, Apr. 3, 1985; 50 FR 42509, Oct. 21, 1985; 53 FR 20808, June 7, 1988; 59 FR 46898, Sept. 13, 1994; 60 FR 3058, Jan. 13, 1995]

Sec. 316.303 Tenure of term employees.

(a) A term employee does not acquire a competitive status on the basis of his term appointment.

(b) The employment of a term employee ends automatically on the expiration of his term appointment unless he has been separated earlier in accordance with this chapter.

Sec. 316.304 Trial period.

(a) The first year of service of a term employee is a trial period.

(b) The agency may terminate a term employee at any time during the trial period. The employee is entitled to the procedures set forth in Sec. 315.804 or Sec. 315.805 of this chapter as appropriate.

Sec. 316.305 Eligibility for within-grade increases.

A term employee serving in a position subject to the General Schedule is eligible for within-grade increases in accordance with subpart D of part 531 of this chapter.

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Page Last Modified: Thursday, 01-May-2014 14:27:44 EDT