Survey Manual

370.300.4 - Uncompensated Services

This chapter establishes the policy and prescribes procedures for utilizing uncompensated services.


OPR: Admin/Personnel

1. Purpose. This chapter establishes the policy and prescribes procedures for utilizing uncompensated services.

2. Policy. The basic rule (contained in 31 U.S.C. 1342) is that no person may provide unpaid service to the Federal Government or be employed without pay or with the understanding that he or she will waive pay, unless covered in the exceptions listed in paragraph 4. Federal agencies are required by law to pay employees serving in authorized positions.

In the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the only type of uncompensated service that may be accepted is that of experts and consultants appointed under 5 U.S.C. 3109 and faculty members extended invitational travel under 5 U.S.C. 5703(c). When Federal Government facilities are not within easy commuting distances for those whom the agencies wish to invite, travel expenses may be required. In these situations, the Comptroller General has ruled that faculty members invited for the above purposes are considered to be rendering services to the Federal Government and thus may be regarded as persons serving without pay. As such, they may be allowed transportation expenses and per diem in lieu of subsistence. These types of gratuitous service may be authorized only when both of the following conditions are met: 1) the person has special qualifications for the activity in which serving, and 2) the service is performed on an intermittent basis and does not involve a substantial amount of time.

3. Definitions.

A. Voluntary Services. Voluntary service is initiated by the individual, not the Federal Government. It is never considered to be Federal employment except as provided by individual laws for purposes of injury compensation, tort claims, conflict of interest, or other specific coverages.

B. Gratuitous Service. Gratuitous service is offered by the Federal Government and must be agreed to beforehand and properly documented. Usually, gratuitous service entails appointment as a Federal employee. However, a Federal agency may accept advisory services without pay from an individual without creating an employee-employer relationship.

4. Exceptions.

A. Voluntary Service. Exceptions to the prohibitions against accepting voluntary service are permitted only when:

(1) Sudden and unforseen emergencies cause an imminent threat to the safety of human life or the protection of property. In this case, the volunteer may file a claim for services rendered.

(2) There is specific statutory authorization for the voluntary service. Since June 1986, the USGS has its own unique statutory authorities for use of the Volunteer for Science Program. Please refer to SM 500.23 and Volunteer for Science Program Handbook, 500-23-H.

B. Gratuitous Service. Gratuitous service is permitted only when:

(1) Pay for the duties to be performed is not fixed by law or when the law permits acceptance of service without compensation. For example, gratuitous service may be accepted from an expert or consultant appointed under 5 U.S.C. 3109 because that law authorizes the appointment of experts and consultants without regard to the General Schedule.

(2) Individuals are named to serve on Federal advisory committees under the provisions of Public Law 92-463 or other specific legislation.

5. Use of Facilities by Non-Federal Government People. See SM 500.12 describing "guest workers."