Science Support

OOP-95-01, Changes in Temporary Appointments


Release Date: January 10, 1995

Expiration Date: Retain until obsolete

Reference: SM 370.330.1

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has recently made significant changes in the regulations covering temporary employment. The new regulations, effective on October 14, 1994, are intended to ensure that temporary appointments are used only to meet truly short-term needs. The regulations impose new time limits on temporary appointments and provide a 6-month window for the noncompetitive conversion of some temporary appointees to term appointments.

These regulations limit temporary employment in the same or successor position to a maximum of 2-years in increments of not more than 1-year and provide for extensions beyond the 2-year period only with approval from OPM. A successor position is a position that replaces and absorbs the original position. The regulations also prohibit filling a position by temporary appointment if that position or a successor position has previously been filled by temporary appointment(s) for an aggregate of 2 years, or 24 months, within the preceding 3-year period. The new regulations require that the supervisor who requests the use of a temporary appointment certify that the employment need is truly temporary and that the proposed appointment meets the regulatory time limits. Attached is a sample certification that may be used to meet that requirement. The certification will be executed by the supervisor and retained by the requesting office. When submitting a personnel action, the initiating office will note on the remarks section that the certification has been properly executed.

The new regulations do not apply to positions filled under an authority established for the purpose of enabling appointees to continue or to enhance their education, or to meet academic or professional qualification requirements. This includes appointments under the Student Educational Employment Program, (formerly, Cooperative Education, Federal Junior Fellowship, Stay-In-School, Summer Aid, and appointments), and appointments under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. The regulations do not apply to temporary appointments to positions involving intermittent or seasonal work when employment totals not more than 1040 hours, excluding overtime, in any service year. If employment exceeds 1040 hours in a service year, the 2-year limit will then apply.

The regulations provide a window for the conversion of temporary employees on the rolls as of September 13, 1994, whose services will be needed by the agency for more than 1 additional year. Such employees may be converted without competition in the same position and at the same grade and series to term appointments at any time from September 13, 1994, to March 12, 1995. Before recommending any conversion action, supervisors should examine the circumstances of each temporary appointee to determine if the continuing need for services is best met through the use of the temporary appointing authority (not more than 1 year) or whether the continuing need is more appropriately met through the use of a term appointing authority (more than 1 but not more than 4 years). Time spent under temporary appointments does not apply to the time limits of term appointments.

Where it appears that not all eligible temporary appointees in the same grade, series, organization code, and location will be converted, all selections for conversion must be based on the application of veterans preference. Temporary employees not converted to term appointments will become subject to the new time limits at the expiration of their current appointments. Specifically, if upon expiration of the temporary appointment the position has been encumbered at least 2 of the last 3 years (by one or more individuals), a new temporary appointment may not be made to that position or a successor position.

It is worth noting that although the type of appointment is based on the duration of the need for services, there are other differences between term and temporary appointments that are important both to the employing office and to the prospective appointee. Below is a comparison of the important features of term and temporary appointments:

BENEFITS - Typically, temporary appointees are not eligible for health benefits, Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), retirement coverage, or within-grade increases (WGIs). However, temporary appointees who have completed 1 year of current, continuous service (beginning and ending with a full-time or part-time work schedule) are eligible to elect health benefits coverage, but must pay the full amount of the premium. By comparison, term appointees on full-time or part-time work schedules are eligible for WGIs and have the same access to retirement coverage, FEGLI, and health benefits as permanent appointees. Thus, the cost to the organization is greater for term appointees than for temporary appointees.

JOB PROTECTION - The appeal and Reduction-In-Force (RIF) rights of temporary appointees are sharply limited. By contrast, term appointees have far more comprehensive appeal and RIF rights. After completion of a 1-year trial period and until the not-to-exceed date of the appointment, the term appointee has the same appeal rights as a permanent employee who has completed a probationary period and has similar, but less comprehensive, RIF rights. Thus, the organization loses some measure of flexibility with the use of term appointments.

RECRUITMENT - Although OPM has provided a 1-time, 6-month window for noncompetitive conversions of some temporary appointees to term appointments, term appointments normally require the more lengthy process used to make permanent appointments. Conversions of term appointees to permanent appointments normally require the use of the same procedures. By contrast, most temporary appointments can be effected through agency-initiated recruitment bulletins. Term appointees can be detailed, promoted, or reassigned to other term positions.

Questions should be directed to the servicing staffing specialist.



I certify that the employment need for this position is of a temporary nature. The reason for making this temporary appointment is stated below:

(1) To fill a short-term position (i.e., one that is not expected to last longer than l year); specifically, or

(2) To meet an employment need that is scheduled to be terminated within the time limits set out below for such reasons as abolishment, reorganization, or contracting of the function, anticipated reduction in funding, or completion of a specific project or peak workload; specifically, or

(3) To fill positions on a temporary basis when the positions are expected to be needed for placement of permanent employees who would otherwise be displaced from other parts of the organization; specifically,

I also certify that the proposed appointment meets the regulatory time limits stated below:

TIME LIMITS - An agency may make a temporary appointment for a specified period not-to-exceed 1 year. The appointment may be extended up to a maximum of 1 additional year (24 months of total service). Appointment to a successor position (i.e., to a position that replaces and absorbs the position to which an individual was originally appointed) is considered to be an extension of the original appointment. Appointment to a position involving the same basic duties and in the same major subdivision of the agency and same local commuting areas as the original appointment is also considered to be an extension of the original appointment. An agency may not fill a position by temporary appointment if that position has previously been filled by temporary appointment(s) for an aggregate of 2 years, or 24 months, within the preceding 3-year period.


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