On September 12, 1995, the President issued a memorandum directing Federal Executive agencies to establish career transition assistance programs to help surplus and displaced workers find other jobs as the Federal Government undergoes downsizing and restructuring. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued regulations to provide the framework for implementing the directive. These regulations, found at part 330 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, established the Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP) and the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP). The provisions of the CTAP and ICTAP give special selection priority to displaced and surplus employees who apply for positions. In some instances this will mean that a manager's flexibility in the selection process is restricted.
The CTAP operates within an agency. It requires the selecting official to select a well-qualified surplus or displaced internalagency employee who applies for a vacant position in the commuting area before selecting any other candidate from either within or outside the agency. The OPM determined that the Department of Defense's Priority Placement Program is an effective program for providing selection priority to its own surplus and displaced employees; consequently, DoD is exempt from the CTAP provisions.
When an agency accepts applications from individuals from outside the agency in recruiting for a position, the provisions of the ICTAP apply. Since "agency" means "Department of Defense" with respect to this program, this means that the ICTAP is applicable whenever any DoD organization accepts applications from individuals external to DoD. The ICTAP does not prohibit movement within the agency.
ACTIONS SUBJECT TO THE ICTAP
When filling a vacancy from outside the agency's workforce, the agency must first clear the vacancy through the Reemployment Priority List and the DoD Priority Placement Program. If cleared, it must then give selection priority to ICTAP candidates. This means that the selecting official is required to select a well-qualified displaced employee from another agency who applies for a vacancy in the commuting area before selecting any other candidate from outside the agency. This requirement applies to all competitive service vacancies lasting more than 120 days unless specifically exempted in part 330 of the CFR. It applies to competitive and non-competitive appointments, transfers from outside the agency, and reinstatements.
ACTIONS EXEMPT FROM THE ICTAP
There are some actions involving external fills which are exempt from the ICTAP. They include the following:
(1) Appointments of 10 point veteran preference eligibles if reached through an appropriate appointing authority
(2) Reemployment of former agency employees who have regulatory or statutory reemployment rights, including injured
workers who have been restored to earning capacity
(3) Temporary appointments of under 121 days (including all
(4) Actions effected under RIF procedures
(5) Filling of a position by an excepted appointment
(6) Conversion of an employee of the same agency who is serving on an excepted appointment conferring eligibility for noncompetitive appointment into the competitive service
(7) Noncompetitive movement of displaced employees between agencies as a result of reorganization, TOF, or mass transfer
(8) Extensions of temporary or term actions up to the full period allowed, provided that the original action upon which the extension is based was made after February 29, 1996 and the
original vacancy announcement specified that the position was open to ICTAP eligibles and that extensions would be possible without further announcement. Temporary actions which took place prior to February 29, 1996, including subsequent extensions, are not subject to the ICTAP.
(There are other exclusions specified in 5 CFR 330.705(c))
The ICTAP differs significantly from OPM's previous mechanisms for giving priority consideration to displaced employees. In the past, OPM maintained a passive centralized inventory for interagency assistance-the Interagency Placement Program. Now, displaced individuals must apply directly for specific vacancies in which they are interested in order to receive selection priority. Since the displaced employee must actively apply for job opportunities, there is an obligation for the activity to announce such opportunities. Specifically, the activity must post the vacancy in OPM's Federal Job Database in order to publicize the job opportunity to potential ICTAP eligibles. In addition, OPM must be provided with an electronic file of the complete vacancy announcement or recruiting bulletin. The announcement must contain the following information:
(1) Title, series, pay plan and grade (or pay rate)
(2) Duty location
(3) Opening and closing dates, plus any other information
explaining how application receipt will be controlled (e.g. early
(4) Name of agency and announcement number
(5) Qualification requirements, including knowledge, skills, and
(6) Entrance pay
(7) Brief description of duties
(8) Basis of rating
(9) What to file
(10) Instructions on how to apply
(11) Information on how to claim veterans' preference
(12) Definition of "well qualified) and information on how ICTAP
candidates may apply, including proof of eligibility required
(13) Equal employment opportunity statement
To exercise special selection priority under ICTAP, the employee must be "displaced". In most cases, these are employees who fall into one of these categories:
(1) A current career or career-conditional competitive service employee in tenure group 1or 2 at grade levels GS-15 or equivalent and below, who has received a specific reduction-in-force (RIF) separation notice or a notice of proposed removal for declining a directed reassignment or transfer of function (TOF) outside of the local commuting area;
(2) A former career employee, as defined above, who was separated through RIF or removed for declining a directed reassignment or TOF outside the local commuting area.
There are other categories of displaced employees, including those who have been separated because of compensable injuries or illness, employees who retired under discontinued service retirement on the effective date of a RIF separation, Military Reserve Technicians or National Guard Technicians who are receiving a special disability retirement annuity, and certain Executive Branch agency employees in the excepted service who are serving (or were serving) on an appointment without time limit and received a RIF separation notice or notice of separation for declining a TOF outside the commuting area. (Section 330.703 of the Code of Federal Regulations provides a complete description of displaced employees.)
In addition to meeting the definition of "displaced", the employee must meet other conditions in order to receive selection priority:
(1) The job vacancy for which he/she is applying must be open to external (non-agency) applicants and must be in the same local commuting area as the position the displaced employee occupied at the time of separation (or proposed separation) from the competitive service.
(2) The employee must have a current (or a last) performance rating of at least fully successful or equivalent. (This requirement does not apply to employees separated because of a compensable injury or retired under the discontinued option, or former Military Reserve/National Guard Technicians who are receiving the special OPM disability annuity.)
(3) The grade of the vacancy must be at or below the grade level from which the employee has been or is being separated and must not have more promotion potential than the position from which the employee has been or is being separated.
(4) The employee must be rated well-qualified for the position.
For employees involved in a RIF, eligibility begins on the date the agency issues a specific RIF separation notice. For employees declining a directed reassignment or TOF to another commuting area, eligibility begins when the agency issues a notice of proposed separation for declining a directed reassignment or TOF outside the local commuting area. Eligibility ends one year from the date of actual separation. (Eligibility dates for the other categories of displaced employees are described in 5 CFR 330.704.)
EXPIRATION OF ELIGIBILITY
Eligibility expires one year after separation or when the employee receives a career, career-conditional, or excepted appointment without time limit in any agency at any grade level. Of course, eligibility also expires when the employee no longer meets the definition of "displaced", for example, if the employee's RIF separation notice is canceled or separates by resignation or non-discontinued service retirement prior to the RIF effective date.
ICTAP special selection priority does not apply to employees who are being downgraded by RIF, separated from a temporary or term position, separated from an agency other than an Executive branch agency that is required to follow OPM hiring procedures, or separated from an SES position.
APPLYING FOR VACANCIES
Eligible employees must apply directly to the activity for specific vacancies in the local commuting area within the prescribed timeframes specified in the announcement. Appropriate proof of eligibility must be attached. For employees displaced through RIF or TOF, proof consists of a RIF separation notice (or SF-50 showing separation by RIF) or notice of proposed removal for declining a directed reassignment or TOF to another commuting area (or SF-50 showing separation for declining the TOF or directed reassignment). (See 5 CFR section 330.708 for a complete list.)
ICTAP eligibles be found well-qualified for the vacancy for which applying in order to receive selection priority. A well-qualified ICTAP applicant is one whose knowledge, skills, and abilities clearly exceed the minimum qualification requirements; however, the individual would not necessarily meet the agency's definition of "highly or best qualified". Agencies must conduct a documented, independent second review in those instances where an otherwise eligible ICTAP applicant is not found well qualified. (An example of a second independent reviewer might be a supervisor in the personnel office, an Equal Employment Opportunity official, or a subject matter specialist who was not involved in the original rating process.) The applicant must be advised in writing of the results of the second review.
If there are available, well-qualified ICTAP eligibles, the agency cannot select another candidate from outside the agency. If there are multiple well-qualified ICTAP candidates, any may be selected. At any time during the recruitment process the agency may choose not to fill the vacancy or to select any of its own employees.
AGENCY OBLIGATION TO INFORM THE WORKFORCE
There are several obligations activities have with respect to communicating information about the ICTAP. Since displaced DoD employees are entitled to exercise selection priority under ICTAP when applying for non-DoD vacancies, they must be informed of this benefit. Activities must conduct orientations for their surplus and displaced employees to educate the workforce on this program. At the time an activity issues a RIF separation notice or notice of separation for failure to transfer with a function, they are obligated to give each of its eligible ICTAP employees information in writing about the special selection priority available to them under ICTAP. The information must contain guidance on how to apply for vacancies under the ICTAP and what documentation is generally required as proof of eligibility.
In addition, all activities must take reasonable step to ensure that ICTAP eligibles are able to learn about vacancies the agency is filling externally and what is required for them to be determined well-qualified for the vacancies. To meet this requirement, activities must provide OPM with the electronic file of the vacancy announcement and post the vacancy in the Federal Job Database is required.
Finally, activities must respond, in writing, to all ICTAP applications. ICTAP eligibles who apply for specific vacancies within the local commuting area must be advised of the results of their applications and whether they were found well-qualified. If they are not found well-qualified, the notice must include information on the results of an independent second review. If an applicant is found well-qualified and another well-qualified surplus or displaced candidate is selected, the applicant must be so advised.
Activities must maintain data on recruitment actions involving the ICTAP in order to provide information to agency headquarters each year on ICTAP activity during the fiscal year. These annual reports are due to OPM in December of each year; since the Office of the Secretary of Defense must compile a Department-wide report in early December, component reports typically are due in late November. (The required information for these reports is summarized in 5 CFR 330.710.)