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Diversity & Inclusion FAQs

Important Information about the Defense of Marriage Act  (DOMA)

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act  (DOMA) is unconstitutional. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will now be able to extend certain benefits to Federal employees and annuitants who have legally married a spouse of the same sex, regardless of the employee’s or annuitant’s state of residency. OPM is currently in the process of updating and revising the website to reflect this change, and will be updating this information as soon as possible. Please check back in the coming weeks for updates.

  • Diversity and inclusion provides organizations with at least 3 tangible benefits:      1.  Serving our communities and being socially responsible The communities we serve are diverse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the workforce and the public we serve are growing in the number of women, people with disabilities, people of color and immigrants each year. Currently, 54 million men, women and children have disabilities, but just over one third of working-age Americans with disabilities are employed. This number is expected to increase by ten percent a year as our population ages and the number of residents older than 65 doubles by 2050. By that same year, 54 percent of the population will be "minorities" (any race other than non-Hispanic, single-race whites), and one third will be of Hispanic ancestry. Diversity and inclusion increase an agency's capacity to serve and protect people who have different experiences or backgrounds and enhance its ability to be receptive to different traditions and ideas. Law enforcement officers present a good example of the critical need to have civil servants who look like the people and communities they serve. Indeed, we must maintain a workforce that is reflective of American society in order to provide high quality, responsive and equitable services for the public. Simply stated, it is the right thing for a democratic government to do.       2.  Increasing innovation Increased creativity is another byproduct of capitalizing on differences. Historically, some of the most creative periods in civilization have emerged when people of different backgrounds have contact and work together. The Renaissance grew in part from the meeting of peoples from the East and the West. America's energy and inventiveness have been attributed to the diversity of thought born from this nation of immigrants. Many scientific discoveries and inventions have been developed by and for people with disabilities. More recently, research has shown that effective diversity management coupled with inclusive work environments improves organizational performance and innovation. Employees from varied backgrounds bring different perspectives, ideas and solutions to the workplace that result in new products and services, challenge to the status quo, and new collaboration.       3.  Getting a return on investment Diversity and inclusion initiatives improve the quality of an agency's workforce and are the catalyst for a better return on investment in human capital. One of the biggest budget items in any agency is the amount it spends on human resources in the form of salaries, benefits, training, development and recruitment. In order to get a healthy return on investment in human capital and maximize competitive advantage, an agency must engage in recruitment and retention efforts that focus on acquiring the best and the brightest talent. We cannot secure the best and brightest talent unless we reach out broadly to all communities where such talent exists. In addition, employees of all groups expect more from organizations - from nondiscriminatory, harassment-free workplaces to flexible schedules and benefits, work-life balance, and child care and family-friendly policies. Agencies are ensuring that they have the conditions in place that facilitate diversity and cultivate inclusion in all aspects of their operations. With these facilitating conditions, the return on investment is maximized, and employees are engaged and productive. The result is faster resolution to conflict which avoids costly litigation and settlements. These environments where all employees feel included and valued are yielding greater commitment and motivation, which translates into fewer resources spent on employee turnover, grievances and complaints.
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  • This effort will focus on helping agencies recruit and retain a diverse Federal workforce drawn from all segments of our population and cultivate a culture that connects each employee to the organization; encourages collaboration, flexibility, and fairness; and leverages diversity throughout the organization so that all individuals are enabled to participate and contribute to their full potential.
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  • A commitment to equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion is critical for the Federal Government as an employer and to the promotion of a merit based civil service. One of the key merit systems principles, set out in the civil service law, requires that the Federal Government's recruitment policies "endeavor to achieve a work force from all segments of society." A coordinated government wide initiative, as specified in Executive Order 13583, August 18, 2011, will provide all federal agencies with strategies and best practices that will enable them to accomplish this end.
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  • This EO does not affect an agency's authority to establish an independent Diversity and Inclusion function, nor does it require an agency to establish such a function. It will be up to each agency to create a structure that works for it. Our research has shown that having three separate functions - Human Resources (HR), EEO and Diversity & Inclusion - has worked very well in the private sector and in some federal agencies. Where HR, EEO and Diversity & Inclusion work together, organizations experience the best outcomes, and this is the model we recommend. When the three functions collaborate and coordinate as teams rather than competitors, they are able to yield greater returns to their organizations.
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  • The PMC is made up of high ranking administration officials, is chaired by the Deputy Director of OMB and is made up of the Chief Operating Officers (typically the Deputy Secretaries) from all executive branch agencies, as well as the OPM Director, GSA Administrator, and other high-ranking government officials. At most agencies, if not all, the Deputy Secretary is the direct link to the overall administration of the agency, is the designated Chief Operating Officer under the GPRA Modernization Act, and is therefore responsible for the agency's achievement of priority goals which include workforce planning. Giving the PMC a critical role in the development of the government-wide plan will ensure accountability at the highest level for its implementation.
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  • In November 2011, as specified in Executive Order 13583, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget-in coordination with the President's Management Council and the Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission-developed and published a Government-wide diversity and inclusion strategic plan, which all Federal agencies will implement. Within 120 days after the Government-wide diversity and inclusion strategic plan was issued, by March 16, 2012, Federal agencies are also required to develop their own diversity and inclusion strategic plans, consistent with the Government-wide plan.
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  • It depends.  FSAFEDS follows IRS rules on dependents.  If you can claim your same-sex domestic partner/spouse as a tax dependent, then you may be reimbursed under your FSAFEDS account for his or her eligible expenses.
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  • Yes.  Lump-sum amounts payable on the death of a Federal employee or annuitant may be designated to go to any individual.  If an employee or annuitant wishes to designate their same sex domestic partners to receive a lump sum, it is imperative that they do so affirmatively by making an election on an SF 2808. Lump-sum benefits are paid in accordance with the statutory order of precedence under 5 U.S.C. § 8342(c) (CSRS) (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title5/html/USCODE-2010-title5-partIII-subpartG-chap83-subchapIII-sec8342.htm) or 5 U.S.C. § 8424(d) (FERS) (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title5/html/USCODE-2010-title5-partIII-subpartG-chap84-subchapII-sec8424.htm).  Same-sex domestic partners are not among those listed in the statutory order of preference. Further, a same sex spouse cannot receive lump-sum benefits as a “widow” or “widower” under the statutory order of precedence (i.e., the second order of precedence under 5 U.S.C. §§ 8342(d) and 8424(d)) as a result of DOMA.   Therefore, in order for same-sex domestic partners or spouses to receive lump-sum benefits, employees or annuitants must designate their same-sex domestic partners or spouses under the first order of precedence (through a designated beneficiary) using SF 2808, Designation of Beneficiary, Civil Service Retirement System (http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf2808.pdf), and SF 3102, Designation of Beneficiary, Federal Employees Retirement System (http://www.opm.gov/Forms/pdf_fill/SF3102.pdf).  
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  • Yes. In 1997, President Clinton established the 24-hour LWOP policy to encourage Federal agencies to make 24 hours of unpaid leave available to Federal employees for these three family support purposes as an interim measure while pursuing legislation to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although FMLA was never amended for these purposes, President Obama continues to support this LWOP policy with a current emphasis to extend coverage to Federal employees with same-sex domestic partners. Pursuant to the President’s June 2, 2010, Memorandum, OPM has extended the 24-hour LWOP policy to apply also to the children and elderly relatives of employees’ same-sex domestic partners. See CPM 2010-16, Extension of 24-Hour LWOP Family Support Policy to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Federal Employees, September 10, 2010 (http://www.chcoc.gov/Transmittals/TransmittalDetails.aspx?TransmittalID=3146). See also Frequently Asked Questions about Leave: 24-Hours of LWOP for Family Support (http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/html/24HoursLWOPQA.asp).  
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  • Yes.  There is no limitation on the designation of individual beneficiaries under the FEGLI program.  Thus, a Federal employee may designate his or her same-sex domestic partner/spouse or a child of the domestic partner/spouse as the primary or secondary beneficiary on SF 2823, Designation of Beneficiary, Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program. 
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  • OPM has established websites containing helpful information about each program.  Here are the links:                  ·     Federal Leave Policy:  http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/         (Note that FSAFEDS is the Federal employee application of a law that applies to taxpayers, generally, and there is no separate statutory provision for Federal employees in particular.) 
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  • A “domestic partner” is defined in OPM regulations (e.g. 5 C.F.R. § 875.213) as a person in a domestic partnership with an employee, annuitant, member of the uniformed services, or retired member of the uniformed services. The term “domestic partnership” is defined as a committed relationship between two adults, of the opposite sex or same sex, in which the partners— (1) are each other’s sole domestic partner and intend to remain so indefinitely; (2) maintain a common residence, and intend to continue to do so (or would maintain a common residence but for an assignment abroad or other employment-related, financial, or similar obstacle); (3) are at least 18 years of age and mentally competent to consent to a contract; (4) share responsibility for a significant measure of each other’s financial obligations; (5) are not married or joined in a civil union to anyone else; (6) are not a domestic partner of anyone else; (7) are not related in a way that would prohibit legal marriage in the U.S. jurisdiction in which the partnership was formed; (8) provide documentation demonstrating fulfillment of these requirements; and (9) certify that they understand that willful falsification of the documentation required to establish that an individual is in a domestic partnership may lead to disciplinary action and the recovery of the cost of benefits received related to such falsification and may constitute a criminal violation under 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
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  • Generally, agencies may choose whether or not to require employees to provide documentation (such as a sworn affidavit) to establish the existence of a domestic partnership with respect to specific benefits. In determining whether to require documentation, however, agencies must consider whether a similar requirement is imposed upon opposite-sex spouses, consistent with the President’s intention that same-sex domestic partners be treated in the same manner as opposite-sex spouses for purposes of these benefits, to the extent permitted by law.   With respect to certain benefits, however, documentation is required by regulation.  For example, 5 CFR § 875.213 states that, for the purpose of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program, and as prescribed by OPM, domestic partners “will be required to provide documentation to demonstrate that you meet these requirements.”
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  • Same-sex couples who are in a civil union or other forms of domestic partnership other than marriage are ineligible for most benefits. There are two big exceptions.  The Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) allows those individuals who satisfy the same-sex domestic partnership standard to be treated as qualifying relatives for Federal employees and annuitants.  Also, employees may elect at retirement an insurable interest annuity for anyone, including domestic partners or partners to a civil union, as long as they can show they are in good health and the people designated for this benefit can show that they have an insurable interest in the continued life of the employee. An insurable interest annuity is a different survivor benefit from a spousal survivor annuity benefit, so be aware that an insurable interest annuity provides a different level of benefits than a survivor annuity for a legal spouse.  Please note that information regarding eligibility for benefits can change, and you should consult the web pages of the individual benefits programs for the most current information.  In addition, please note that travel and relocation benefits available to same-sex domestic partners are outside of Title 5 and are administered by the General Services Administration, not the Office of Personnel Management.
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  • Yes, OPM proposed amendments to its regulations found at 5 C.F.R. §§ 550.401-409 to make it clear that same-sex domestic partners and the children of same sex-domestic partners are considered to be dependents for the purposes of the evacuation pay statutes.  See Final Federal Register Rule, Change in Definitions; Evacuation Pay and the Separate Maintenance Allowance at Johnston Island, July 20, 2012. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/07/20/2012-17540/change-in-definitions-evacuation-pay-and-the-separate-maintenance-allowance-at-johnston-island      
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  • OPM has published amendments to its regulations to establish that an employee's same-sex domestic partner qualifies, and should be treated as, a family member for purposes of eligibility for noncompetitive appointment based on overseas employment, as provided in section 315.608 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations.  See 5 CFR 315.608(e), published electronically at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=4dec5addb94f826760b699f451609d6a&rgn=div8&view=text&node=5:1.0.1.2.39.6.12.8&idno=5
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  • OPM does not administer TSP benefits. The experts at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board provided this answer: “No. A participant can designate any individual, an organization, a trust, or a will as a beneficiary.” OPM does administer the Federal Employee Life Insurance (FEGLI) program. You can name anyone you want as a beneficiary of your FEGLI life insurance coverage.
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  • Yes. Such benefits should currently be available. In addition, OPM amended its regulations to confirm that an employee's same-sex domestic partner may obtain assistance under agency EAPs. See the final rule at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-07-20/html/2012-17539.htm  
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  • Yes, OPM proposed amendments to regulations found at 5 C.F.R. §§ 591.401-406 to make it clear that same-sex domestic partners and the children of same-sex domestic partners/spouses are considered dependents for the purposes of the Johnston Island separate maintenance allowance.  See Final Federal Register Rule, Change in Definitions; Evacuation Pay and the Separate Maintenance Allowance at Johnston Island, July 20, 2012 (https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/07/20/2012-17540/change-in-definitions-evacuation-pay-and-the-separate-maintenance-allowance-at-johnston-island)  
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  • Because the individuals for whom an employee can provide care under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are specified in statute, an employee may take FMLA leave only to care for spouses, sons and daughters under 18 or over 18 but incapable of self care because of a mental or physical disability, and parents.  Employees may take FMLA leave for the care of sons and daughters of their same-sex domestic partner.  See Compensation Policy Memorandum (CPM) 2010-15, Interpretation of “Son or Daughter” Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, August 31, 2010 (http://www.chcoc.gov/Transmittals/TransmittalDetails.aspx?TransmittalID=3122).   
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Total Count: 72, Number of Pages: 4, Page: 1


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