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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 24, 2004
Contact: Brendan LaCivita
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James Issues Latest Guidance in Anticipation of Hurricane Jeanne

Issues memorandum to heads of federal agencies and departments

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James today issued a memorandum (attached) to the heads of federal agencies and departments on available personnel flexibilities in anticipation of Hurricane Jeanne.  Jeanne is the fourth hurricane to affect the Southeast since August.

"As you know, many people in the Southeast continue to suffer from the aftermath of Hurricanes Ivan, Frances, and Charley," wrote James in the memorandum. "If Hurricane Jeanne follows the currently predicted path and makes landfall in the United States over the next few days, those already attempting to recover from the earlier devastation will be faced with additional potential loss and destruction."

Many parts of the federal government already are being mobilized to respond to this disaster, and the memorandum was issued to advise federal managers of the actions OPM is taking in preparation for Hurricane Jeanne, and to update them on various human resources flexibilities already available to immediately hire and/or deploy additional staff to respond to this disaster.

Director James strongly encouraged federal managers to:

  • Grant excused absence to employees who are requested to assist in emergency law enforcement, relief, and clean-up efforts in affected communities authorized by federal, state, or other officials having jurisdiction, and whose participation in such activities has been approved by their employing agency;
  • Additionally, Director James has asked that excused absence be granted to employees who are prevented from reporting for work or who are faced with a personal emergency because of the hurricane and its aftermath and who can be spared from their usual responsibilities.

"Federal employees are talented individuals with the abilities and skills necessary to assist in an emergency like this," James said. "We are ready to further help agencies and communities in need as they look not only to continue recovering from the previous hurricanes, but to react to Jeanne as well. The anticipated severity of Hurricane Jeanne, coming so closely on the heels of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Ivan, makes it absolutely essential that our federal managers have available the full range of human resources flexibilities to effect results as quickly as possible."

Available personnel flexibilities include:

  • Premium pay for employees performing emergency overtime work thereby waiving the biweekly premium-pay limitations; emergency leave transfer at the direction of the President; emergency critical hiring; Direct-Hire Authority; and other personnel flexibilities including private-sector temporary employment and temporary competitive service appointments. Agencies also may request authority to conduct special solicitations for charitable contributions in support of victims of such emergencies and disasters.

James suggested agency Chief Human Capital Officers contact their OPM Human Capital Officer for needed assistance, and agency employees should contact their agency human resources office if they have questions or concerns regarding personnel matters.

-end-

September 24, 2004

MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

FROM: KAY COLES JAMES

Director

SUBJECT: Hurricane Jeanne

The southeastern portion of the United States is bracing for Hurricane Jeanne, the latest in a series of storms that have devastated Florida and the Southeast. As you know, many people in the Southeast continue to suffer from the aftermath of Hurricanes Ivan, Frances, and Charley. If Hurricane Jeanne follows the currently predicted path and makes landfall in the U.S. over the next few days, those already attempting to recover from the earlier devastation will be faced with additional potential loss and destruction. Many parts of the Federal Government are already being mobilized to respond to this disaster, and to assist you in those relief and recovery efforts, I want to:

  • advise you of the actions the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is taking with respect to Hurricane Jeanne and its aftermath; these actions are consistent with our guidance in previous natural disasters, such as Hurricanes Ivan, Frances, and Charley earlier this year; and
  • remind you of the various human resources (HR) flexibilities already available to you to immediately hire and/or deploy additional staff to respond to this disaster.

As referenced in my recent memos in response to Hurricanes Ivan, Frances, and Charley, and consistent with the President's recognition of the generosity and responsiveness of his team of Federal employees, I strongly encourage managers to grant excused absence to employees who are requested to assist in emergency law enforcement, relief, and clean-up efforts in affected communities, as authorized by Federal, State, or other officials having jurisdiction, and whose participation in such activities has been approved by their employing agency. (This policy does not apply to Federal employee members of the National Guard or Reserves who are called up to assist in disaster relief and recovery efforts, since they are entitled to military leave under 5 U.S.C. 6323(b).) In addition, I am requesting that excused absence be granted to employees who are prevented from reporting for work or faced with a personal emergency because of the hurricane and its aftermath and who can be spared from their usual responsibilities.

Premium Pay for Employees Performing Emergency Overtime Work

Agencies are reminded of their authority under the law (5 U.S.C. 5547(b)) and OPM regulations (5 CFR 550.106) to make exceptions to the biweekly premium pay limitations. When the head of an agency or his or her designee determines that an emergency posing a direct threat to life or property exists, an employee who is receiving premium pay for performing overtime work in connection with the emergency will be subject to an annual pay limitation rather than the biweekly pay limitation (with the exception of certain fixed premium payments, such as availability pay, as specified in 5 CFR 550.107). Employees paid under an annual limitation receive premium pay only to the extent that the aggregate of basic pay and premium pay for the calendar year does not exceed the greater of the annual rate for:

  1. GS-15, step 10 (including any applicable special salary rate or locality rate of pay), or
  2. level V of the Executive Schedule.

Section 1114 of Public Law 107-107, December 28, 2001, modified the biweekly and annual limitations on premium pay under 5 U.S.C. 5547. For additional information on administering the annual premium pay limitation, see OPM's final regulations on premium pay limitations at 69 FR 55941, September 17, 2004. These regulations may be viewed on the Federal Register Web site at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.)

I encourage you to exercise this authority in the case of any employee who performs emergency overtime work in connection with Hurricane Jeanne and its aftermath. You must make the determination as soon as practicable and make entitlement to premium pay under the annual limitation effective as of the first day of the pay period in which the emergency began.

Special Solicitations for Charitable Contributions During Emergencies and Disasters

The Director of OPM may grant permission for special solicitations of Federal employees, outside of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), in support of victims in cases of emergencies and disasters. All requests must be made in writing and sent to the attention of the Director. The request should include the following: information on the agency(ies) and location(s) where the special solicitation will be conducted; dates on which the special solicitation will be conducted, and; information on the charitable organization(s) that will be the recipient of special solicitation funds. Because a special solicitation is not a part of the CFC, employees may give only through cash or check and may not use payroll deduction. At this time, the CFC season is beginning in many areas. Federal employees may also contribute to local relief efforts through their participation in the CFC. Employees may designate their payroll deduction or make a cash/check contribution to the organization of their choice. For access to frequently asked questions and answers on special solicitations, please visit http://www.opm.gov/cfc.

Emergency Leave Transfer Program

The President may direct OPM to establish an emergency leave transfer program to assist employees affected by an emergency or major disaster. The emergency leave transfer program would permit employees in an executive agency to donate unused annual leave for transfer to employees of the same or other agencies who have been adversely affected by the hurricane and who need additional time off from work without having to use their own paid leave. If you believe there is a need to establish an emergency leave transfer program to assist employees affected by Hurricane Jeanne, please contact your OPM Human Capital Officer.

Emergency Critical Hiring

Under 5 CFR 213.3102(i)(2), you may make 30-day appointments in the excepted service to fill a critical hiring need. You may extend these appointments for an additional 30 days. You may use this authority to fill Senior Level positions, as well as positions at lower grades; you also determine what qualifications are required. Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Reemployment Priority List (RPL), and Interagency CTAP (ICTAP) requirements under 5 CFR part 330 do not apply to these appointments.

Direct-Hire Authority

This authority allows you to appoint candidates directly where OPM determines there is a critical hiring need, or a shortage of candidates, for particular occupations, grades (or equivalent), and/or geographic locations. This authority can be Governmentwide or limited to one or more specific agencies depending on the circumstances.

OPM has granted Governmentwide direct-hire authority for GS-0602 Medical Officers, GS-0610 and GS-0620 Nurses, GS-0647 Diagnostic Radiologic Technicians, and GS-0660 Pharmacists at all grade levels and all locations; and for GS-2210 Information Technology Specialists (Information Security) positions at GS-9 and above, at all locations, in support of Governmentwide efforts to carry out the requirements of the Government Information Security Reform Act and the Federal Information Security Management Act.

You may give individuals in the categories, occupations and specialties, and grades listed above competitive service career, career-conditional, term, temporary, or emergency indefinite appointments, as appropriate. In all cases, you must adhere to public notice requirements in 5 U.S.C. 3327 and 3330, and ICTAP requirements.

If you feel you have one or more occupations for which an agency-specific direct-hire authority may be appropriate in support of Hurricane Jeanne relief and recovery efforts, please contact your OPM Human Capital Officer.

Other Flexibilities

You may contract with private sector temporary employment firms for services to meet your emergency staffing needs. These contracts may be for 120 days and may be extended for an additional 120 days, subject to displaced employee procedures.

You may make competitive service appointments for 120 days or less without clearing CTAP or ICTAP. However, these programs may help you identify one or more well-qualified, displaced Federal employees who are available for immediate employment.

Current/former employees on your agency RPL are another immediate source of qualified individuals available for temporary, term, or permanent competitive service appointments. Conversely, in some cases, you may wish to make an exception to the RPL provisions to appoint someone else under 5 CFR 330.207(d).

For additional information on any of these flexibilities, agency Chief Human Capital Officers and/or Human Resources (HR) Directors may contact their assigned OPM Human Capital Officer. Employees should contact their agency human resources offices for assistance.


cc:Chief Human Capital Officers
Human Resources Directors


 

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