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Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignments

Assignments may be made to or from federal agencies and the following: state and local governments; private and public colleges and universities; Indian Tribal governments; federally funded research and development centers; and qualified non-profit organizations involved in public management. Assignments must be with the consent of the employee and for work of mutual benefit to the organizations involved. Incoming IPA assignments are funded through grants to the institution as reimbursement for salary and benefits. It is NSF's policy to request at least 15% cost sharing of salary and benefits from the institution for incoming IPA assignments. Indirect and administrative costs cannot be reimbursed by NSF. Policy information on the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Program is contained on the Office of Personnel Management's website.

Employee Status

IPA assignees are usually detailed to the Foundation. Assignees remain on the home institution's payroll in an active pay status while assigned to NSF. Salary and benefits continue to be administered by the home institution. IPA assignees are not federal employees, but are subject to provisions of law governing the ethics and conduct of federal employees.

Length of Appointment

Initial assignments may be made for up to two years and may be intermittent, part-time or full time. Assignments may be extended at the request of NSF for up to three years. An extension to four years requires approval of NSF's Deputy Director. By law, an IPA assignment may not be extended beyond four years.

Return to Home Institution

It is NSF's expectation that IPA assignees will not be employed by NSF in any capacity for at least one year upon completion of their IPA assignment.

Salary

IPA assignee salary is usually annualized to twelve months. Pay is supplemented when the salary at the home institution is below the minimum of the NSF position. When an annualized academic salary exceeds the NSF salary for the assigned position, the full academic salary may be preserved and salary for the summer months will be calculated based on the federal rate of pay of the assigned position. The agreement allows for supplements when there is an increase in salary and/or benefit rates at the home institution. NSF's contribution to salary increases may not exceed the annual federal pay increase, plus 3%.

Lost Consulting

NSF may provide compensation for lost consulting income. Payments, which are administered by NSF, are based on an average of the consulting income during the last two years (supported by tax records), up to a maximum of $10,000 per year. No consulting may be conducted if payment is received for any lost consulting activities. This income is paid directly to the assignee and will be reported on an IRS Form 1099, "Miscellaneous Income," at the end of each year. Any decision to continue consulting activities while at NSF MUST be discussed with an Ethics Counselor in the NSF's Office of the General Counsel.

Per Diem

An IPA assignee may be entitled to receive a per diem allowance or a round-trip movement of household goods. The annual per diem rate is established and paid by NSF based on Federal Travel Regulations. Requests for per diem may be made in a lump sum or incrementally, and tax implications should be considered in deciding the timing of these payments. These payments are reported to the IRS on form 1099 if the aggregate amount paid is $600.00 or more in a calendar year.

Household Move

An IPA assignee may be entitled to receive a round-trip movement of household goods in lieu of a per diem allowance.

Supplemental Pay

If the basic salary calculation is below the minimum rate of pay for the federal position, the salary is raised to the minimum federal rate of pay for that position. This income is paid directly to the assignee by NSF and will be reported on an IRS Form 1099, "Miscellaneous Income," at the end of each year.

Leave

Because IPA assignees are not federal employees, annual and sick leave is not accrued at NSF. Applicable leave provisions of the home institution will be followed while on detail to NSF, however requests to use leave must be approved by the NSF supervisor. The home institution is responsible for leave administration. Summer and other extended vacation periods are work periods at NSF.

Legal Advisory

The IRS has ruled that appointments away from the IPA's permanent home for more than one year are considered to be indefinite and living expenses are no longer deductible. NSF recommends that tax implications be discussed with a CPA or other tax advisor. For information on travel expenses, see Tax Treatment of Travel Expenses Incurred by NSF Rotators.

Independent Research/Development (IR/D) Program

The Independent Research/Development (IR/D) Program permits individuals serving in the IPA Program, with approved IR/D plans, to maintain their involvement with their professional research.