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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

370.792.4 Physical Fitness Program

DATE:   April 7, 2008

OPR: Office of Policy and Analysis

1. Purpose.  This chapter establishes policy, responsibilities, and procedures for providing U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employees with opportunities to achieve and maintain physical fitness to the fullest extent possible.  

2. Authorities. 

A. Title 5 United States Code (U.S.C.) 7901

B.  Title 5 U.S.C. 5946

C.  Comptroller General Decisions B-218840 (dated September 6, 1985) and B-240371
(dated January 18, 1991)

D.  41 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) 102-79.30 and 102.79.35

3.  Resources.

A.  Office of Personnel Management Employee Health Services Handbook – provides policy and information regarding fitness programs sponsored by Federal agencies.

B.  USGS Physical Fitness Program Handbook – provides detailed information on the procedures and process to follow in establishing a local physical fitness program.

4. Policy.   Subject to the availability of appropriated funds, the USGS is committed to providing interested employees with opportunities to achieve and maintain physical fitness to the fullest extent possible.  The USGS Physical Fitness Program is intended to assist in minimizing the risks of premature morbidity, mortality, and disability, foster healthy lifestyles and support a healthy work environment.   The USGS Physical Fitness Program is designed to provide interested employees access to fitness training while not dictating the form and source of that training.

The goal of the USGS Physical Fitness Program is to establish a program that allows for local implementation and meets the needs of USGS employees, regardless of their geographic location. 

5.  Physical Fitness Program Planning.  As required by 41 C.F.R. 102-79.35, the following elements must be addressed in planning for a Physical Fitness Program: 

A.  A survey indicating employee interest in the program.

B.  A three-to-five year implementation plan demonstrating long-term commitment to physical fitness/health for employees.

C.  A health related orientation, including screening procedures, individualized exercise programs, identification of high-risk individuals, and appropriate follow-up activities.

D.  Identification of a person skilled in prescribing exercise to direct the fitness program.

E.  An approach that will consider key health behavior related to degenerative disease, including smoking and nutrition.

F. A modest facility that includes only the essentials necessary to conduct a program involving cardiovascular and muscular endurance, strength activities, and flexibility.

G.  Provision for equal opportunities for men and women, and all employees regardless of grade level.

6.  Options for Providing Access to Fitness Facilities.  Federal statutes and regulations authorize Federal agencies to expend appropriated funds for employee access to fitness facilities through the following options:

A.  Subsidizing a portion of the individual employee membership fees for fitness facilities, including costs for exercise classes, through employee reimbursement. 

B.  Providing on-site facilities such as showers/lockers.

C.  Establishing fitness centers on-site to include the purchase of equipment and designation of space to be available to all employees.

D.  Participating with other Federal agencies (e.g., through a consortium) in co-sponsoring a fitness center.

E.  Contracting with fitness facilities for group membership discounts. Group membership discounts could be established with one or more off-site fitness facilities that will provide the desired services.  USGS could pay an amount to be determined annually depending on the number of employees participating and funds available.  As a result of the USGS payment, employees would be offered and would be solely responsible for paying a reduced monthly charge for membership.

F.  Providing on-site health services and/or fitness classes, such as aerobics, yoga, and smoking cessation, and screenings for glaucoma, hearing, blood pressure, etc.

7.  Delegation of Authority to Establish a Local USGS Physical Fitness Program.  To ensure that employees located at the same geographical site receive equitable treatment in regards to the use of, and/or partial reimbursement for costs of, fitness centers, USGS cost centers must work together to establish local fitness programs that achieve economies of scale and equal access for all employees. 

A.  The following USGS officials are delegated authority to establish and approve local USGS fitness programs which include an option for employee reimbursement of individual membership fees for a commercial fitness facility:

(1)  National Center – The USGS Deputy Director.

(2) Regional Centers – The Regional Director.

(3) Multiple USGS field cost centers located in the same geographic area (e.g., a city) – Regional Executives.

(4)  USGS science/cost centers which are not co-located with other USGS cost centers – Science Center Directors or Cost Center Managers.

B.  The following USGS officials are delegated authority to establish and approve local USGS fitness programs which do not include an option for employee reimbursement of individual membership fees for a fitness facility:

(1)  National Center – The USGS Deputy Director.

(2)  Regional Centers – The Regional Director.

(3)  Multiple USGS field cost centers located in the same geographic area (e.g., a city) – Regional Executives.

(4)  USGS science/cost centers which are not co-located with other USGS cost centers –   Science Center Directors or Cost Center Managers.

C.  The following USGS officials are delegated authority to exempt a cost center, included in a local USGS fitness program which covers multiple USGS cost centers and which authorizes employee reimbursement of individual membership fees for a fitness facility, from employee reimbursement due to budgetary constraints:

(1) National Center – The USGS Deputy Director (headquarters cost centers located in the National Center) and the Eastern Region Director (eastern region cost centers located at the National Center).

(2)  Regional Centers – The Regional Director.

(3)  Multiple USGS field cost centers located in the same geographic area (e.g., a city) – Regional Executives.

(4)  USGS science/cost centers which are not co-located with other USGS cost centers –   Science Center Directors or Cost Center Managers.

8.  Funding.  Local fitness programs may be fully funded by USGS, funded by a combination of employees’ fees and USGS funding, or fully funded by employee contributions or fees.  The local USGS fitness program will address which of the following option(s) will be used to fund the program:

A.  Subject to the availability of appropriated funds, USGS cost centers are responsible for funding local fitness program costs.  Funding is limited to 50 percent of individual membership fees for a fitness facility, or a total of $300.00 per employee per year, whichever is less. 

B.  When preparing cost comparisons (e.g., to buy equipment or establish an on-site fitness center), overall costs may not exceed $300.00 per employee likely to participate times the expected life of the center or equipment (e.g., 20 employees times $300.00 times 10 years or $60,000).
 
C.  USGS authority to collect fees from employees to support fitness centers is limited to fitness facilities located in General Services Administration (GSA) controlled space.  USGS may collect fees directly from employees to reimburse the USGS appropriation for the cost of space and services such as electricity.  USGS may not collect other types of costs from employees associated with fitness facilities, such as staff and equipment.   Before charging a fee to a USGS employee, both the Administrator of the GSA and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget must approve the proposed fee.  In addition, should collected employee fees be in excess of the actual cost for the space and services, the excess fees must be deposited into miscellaneous receipts of the U.S. Treasury.  A request from a USGS cost center to charge a fee must be submitted to the USGS Chief Financial Officer/Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services, who will coordinate with appropriate USGS officials in deciding whether or not USGS will request authorization to charge a fee.

D.  Contractors who provide fitness programs may collect employee fees directly or make arrangements with an employee organization (e.g., the Interior Department Recreational Association) to collect fees from employees.  If a contractor is used to provide fitness programs, and the USGS is able to pay a predetermined portion of the cost, the servicing USGS contracting office and the contractor will determine the total costs, subject to the Federal Acquisition Rules.  The contractor is responsible for collecting fees from the employees to cover the remaining cost.

E.  If a decision is made to utilize a Federal fitness facility managed by an employee organization
(e.g., the Interior Department Recreational Association), the employee organization manages the fitness facility (either by a contractor or its own staff).  The organization charges the employee a membership fee to cover operating costs.  Under this arrangement, the USGS may collect employee fees through payroll deduction on behalf of the employee organization.

9.  Fitness Facilities

A. Off-Site Fitness Facilities.

(1)  Off-site fitness facilities should contain a full complement of exercise equipment and programs for cardiovascular and body strengthening.

(2)  Off-site fitness facilities should have appropriate mechanisms or procedures to minimize the possibility of personal injury; e.g., guidelines posted for proper use of machines, onsite training personnel for instruction on machine use, fitness testing, etc.

(3)  Off-site fitness facilities may not deny membership based on race, color, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation. However, facilities that cater to one gender or the other may be considered as long as the local program offers the same benefit to all employees.  For example, a “women’s” center may be included in the local offering, or be acceptable for employee reimbursement, so long as the local offering also includes fitness facilities available to male employees.

(4)  Off-site fitness facilities should accommodate employees with disabilities (e.g., the facility provides sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired to attend exercise classes).

(5)  Group membership discounts could be established with one or more off-site fitness facilities that will provide the desired services.  USGS would pay an amount to be determined annually depending on the number of employees participating and the funds available.  As a result of the USGS payment, employees would be offered and would be solely responsible for paying a reduced monthly charge for membership. USGS managers interested in the use of group membership discounts must contact their servicing USGS acquisition office for information on the contracting procedures which must be followed to establish group membership discounts with an off-site fitness facility. 

(6)  Individual memberships may be supported instead of or in addition to group membership contracts as part of a local fitness program; however, employees may not receive a dual benefit.  Employees may personally contract with an off-site fitness provider and be reimbursed for a portion of their membership fees.  Exercise classes offered by various commercial, public, and non-profit groups can also be considered for reimbursement of part of the monthly fees.  The employee would be responsible for all payments to the fitness facility and would file for reimbursement by providing the documentation specified below in Section 12.

B.  USGS On-Site Fitness Facility.

(1)  Subject to space availability, USGS can allot space in Federally owned and leased buildings for fitness programs.  Managers interested in establishing an on-site fitness facility must contact their servicing USGS Office or Branch of Management Services regarding the policies and procedures to follow in establishing an on-site fitness center.

(2)  On-site fitness facilities should contain exercise equipment for cardiovascular and body strengthening.

(3)  On-site fitness facilities should contain on-site shower and locker room facilities.

(4)  On-site fitness facilities may offer fitness classes such as aerobics and yoga subject to the availability of funds and qualified instructors.

(5)  On-site fitness facilities must accommodate employees with disabilities.

(6)  On-site fitness facilities must meet minimum established safety standards such as sufficient exits, lighting, etc. 

(7)  All equipment installed must be installed in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations, and instructions on proper equipment use should be posted in plain sight of the equipment at all times. 

(8)  Access to on-site facilities should be limited to the hours within which employees are allowed to report to or depart from work, unless restricted due to local building security or safety requirements.  See also paragraph 13 below, “time and attendance.”

(9)  Employees should refrain from using on-site facilities during hours when other employees are not present in the vicinity of the fitness facility to ensure help can be obtained in the case of accident or injury.

(10)  Use of on-site equipment will normally be on a “first come, first served” basis.  However, local managers may establish scheduling procedures to minimize the amount of waiting required.

C. Facilities Supported by Interagency Agreements.

(1)  Through an Interagency Agreement with other Federal agencies, USGS may share, on a reimbursable basis, the use and costs of fitness facilities.  The authority for the Interagency Agreement would be the Economy Act. 

(2)  A single agency can serve as the contracting agency for the fitness facilities. 

(3)  The Cooperative Administrative Support Unit (CASU) program of the GSA may also be used by Federal agencies to share the use and costs of fitness facilities.

(4)  The servicing USGS acquisition office would award interagency agreements for the shared USGS use of fitness facilities supported or sponsored by other federal agencies.

10.  Employee Eligibility.

A.  Participation in the USGS Physical Fitness Program is limited to permanent full- and part-time employees, and employees on time-limited appointments of one year or more.  Employee participation is strictly voluntary.

B.  Family members of an employee, contractor personnel, volunteers, individuals contracting directly with the USGS (e.g., consultants, students, etc.), and the general public are not eligible.

C.  Prior to participation in the USGS Physical Fitness Program, employees who meet the eligibility requirements above must submit an Annual Waiver and Informed Consent Statement (Figure 1).  The Waiver must be renewed on an annual basis.  The employee should retain  a copy of the Waiver, and the original must be maintained by the employee’s supervisor.

D.  Employees who use on-site facilities are covered under the Federal Employees Compensation Act.  Claims of injury or illness will be handled on a case-by-case basis in accordance with appropriate laws, rules, and regulations.

11.  Labor Relations Obligations.

A.  Locations whose employees are represented by a labor organization must meet their obligations under the Federal Service Labor Management Relations status and any existing collective bargaining or other agreement obligations.

B.  Notification to and bargaining with the employees’ representative may be required prior to the implementation of a local fitness program.  Managers must contact their servicing USGS Human Resources (Labor Relations/Employee Relations) Specialists before proceeding with any required negotiations.

12.  Reimbursement Procedures for Individual Employee Membership Costs to Fitness Facilities or Groups.
 
A.  In order for employees to be eligible for reimbursement of membership fees, including costs of exercise classes, the fitness center or group must meet the criteria provided in Section 9.A. above. 

B.  When the local fitness programs include reimbursement of employees for part of their individual membership in a fitness facility or costs for exercise classes, cost centers should project their own costs and may reimburse employees on a quarterly basis.

C.  Reimbursement is applied to a single (the employee) membership and not a family rate.  The employee is responsible for providing proof of the cost for an individual membership at the fitness provider facility.

D.  One-time fees for registration in competitive fitness or sports activities such as golf, downhill skiing, horseback riding, swimming, running, and team sports such as volleyball, basketball, baseball, or football may not be reimbursed.

E.  Employees using on-site fitness centers supported/funded by the USGS may not claim reimbursement for membership fees for off-site fitness facilities.

F.  Funding is limited to 50 percent of the individual membership fees or costs of exercise classes, or a total of $300.00 per employee per year, whichever is less.

G.  Any reimbursement paid to the employee is taxable income and must be reported on the employee’s W-2

H.  Employees must submit a completed Taxable Reimbursement Request form located at the following Web site:  http://internal.usgs.gov/ops/hro/benefits/physical/index.html and receipt(s) of payment to the fitness facility to their cost center manager  The completed form should be sent to the servicing payroll processing group for processing of payment.

13.  Time and Attendance.

A.  With the exception of a one-time event or program of relatively short duration, no official duty time will be approved for fitness activities.  Examples of one time or short duration events include health education classes, health fairs, and USGS sponsored medical screenings.
 
B.  USGS managers and supervisors may encourage continuing health and fitness activities through accommodations such as flexible work schedules, but the fitness activities must be conducted during non-duty hours.  For example, subject to supervisory approval:

(1)  Employees may use fitness facilities during their lunch break in accordance with the policies governing their specific work schedule.

(2)  Employees may seek advance approval to use accrued credit time, compensatory time off, or annual leave to participate in a fitness program.

(3)  Employees may request flexible work schedule in order to participate in health and fitness activities. 

Figure 1



______/s/Karen D. Baker_________________                          April 8, 2008______________        
Karen D. Baker                                                                                           Date
Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services


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