Term appointments are appointments made for more than one year but not more than four years to positions where the need for an employee's services is not permanent. The circumstances under which these nonpermanent appointments are appropriate include (but are not limited to) project work, extraordinary workload, uncertainty of future funding, scheduled contracting out or abolishment of a function, or the need to maintain permanent positions for placement of potential surplus employees.

Term appointments may be made in any increments as long as the appointment is for more than one year and no more than four years. If, for example, the initial term appointment is made for 13 months, the appointment may be extended up to the 4-year limit in as many increments as the agency chooses. The vacancy announcement for a term appointment for less than 4 years should state that the activity has the option of extending the appointment up to the 4-year limit.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may authorize extending an employee in a term appointment beyond 4 years when the extension is clearly justified. Requests for such extensions must be initiated by the employing office and sent through MACOM channels to Headquarters Army, through DoD and final approving authority will be with OPM. When seeking OPM approval, the activity must document the reasons for the continued need of the employee, keeping in mind that if there is a need to continue the term appointment for an extended period of time, a permanent appointment may be more appropriate.


Agencies may make term appointments from competitive registers through delegated examining, as provided in 5 CFR part 332.

Noncompetitive term appointments may be made to individuals who meet the eligibility criteria under specific appointment authorities listed in Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Among these authorities are:

(1) Reinstatement (5 CFR Section 315.401)

(2) Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) (5 CFR Section 307.103)

Note that such appointments are competitive service appointments -- not excepted VRA appointments -- and do not lead to conversion to career-conditional appointment.

(3) Appointments of veterans with compensable service-connected disabillity of 30% or more.

(4) Reappointment on the basis of having left a term appointment prior to serving the 4-year maximum time allowed. Reappointment must be to a position in the same agency and for which the individual qualifies. Combined service under the original term appointment and the reappointment cannot exceed the 4-year limit.

(5) Conversion in the same agency from a current temporary appointment when the employee is or was within reach on a certificate of eligibles for term appointment at any time during service in the temporary position. "Within reach" means that the person could have been selected for the position under competitive hiring procedures and that the certificate was actually used for term appointment. The person must have been continuously employed in the position from the date found within reach to the date converted to a term appointment.

Although term employees often are hired following the same competitive procedures that are used for hiring permanent employees, term employees do not have status in the competitive service. Consequently, unless they attained status through an earlier appointment, they cannot be selected from their term appointment for permanent career or career conditional appointments through internal merit promotion procedures. Such conversions cannot occur without special legal authority. The authority for personnel demonstration projects (Title 5, United States Code (USC), Part 4703) is the only provision that currently allows the possibility of term conversions.


Term employees must serve a one year trial period. Prior Federal civilian service is credited toward completion of the trial period in the same manner that prior service is credited toward a probationary period. The service must have been in the same agency ("agency" in this context means Army); in the same line of work; and contains no more than a single break in service of 30 calendar days or less.


An employee on a temporary or term appointment, whose appointment is terminated before the expiration date of the appointment, and the termination is the result of commercial activities, is entitled to the Right of First Refusal. An employee who voluntarily terminates their employment before the conversion, or an employee whose appointment expires before conversion, is not entitled to the Right of First Refusal. The commercial activity contractor responsible for offering the Right of First Refusal should be given the names and type of appointment of all employees eligible to receive the Right of First Refusal.


Term employees in General Schedule are eligible for within-grade increases.

Term employees with full or part-time work schedules are eligible for coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program, and a Federal employees retirement system.

Term employees are covered by reduction in force (RIF) procedures as tenure group III employees if affected by a RIF action prior to the expiration of their term appointments. Rif procedures do not apply when term employees are separated on their appointment expiration dates.

OPM's latest rules on term employment can be found in Title 5, CFR, Part 316

Content last reviewed: 6/8/2006-SWL

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This page was last revised: 6/8/2006