U.S. Geological Survey Manual
370-572.1 - Travel Expenses - Pre-employment Interviews
OPR: Admin/Office of Personnel
1. Purpose. This chapter establishes policy and procedures for the authorization and payment of travel expenses associated with pre-employment interviews of candidates for all categories of positions and grade levels including positions in the competitive and excepted service, Senior Executive Service (SES), Senior Level (SL) Pay System, and Scientific and Professional (ST) category. This guidance applies to payment for pre-employment interviews for both prospective candidates for Federal employment and current Federal employees. The authority should only be used in those rare instances when candidate qualifications for employment cannot otherwise be fully evaluated and when other alternatives (e.g., interview by a local U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) management official) are not available or appropriate.
2. Authority. Section 206 of the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) rules and regulations authorize agencies to pay travel expenses for pre-employment interviews.
3. Policy. Management officials are required to observe the nondiscrimination and prohibited practices provisions of 5 U.S.C. 2302 and 5 CFR Part 230 in exercising the authority to pay travel expenses for pre-employment interviews.
A. Approving Official. The authority to approve payment of travel expenses for pre-employment interviews is delegated to division chiefs. This authority may be redelegated, in writing, only to the next lower management level.
B. Selecting Official. Selecting officials may request approval for the authorization of pre-employment interview travel expenses by preparing USGS Form 9-3038 (Figure 1), Approval of Payment for Travel and Transportation Expenses for Pre-employment Interviews or to First Post of Duty, for approval through established division channels.
5. General Requirements.
A. Travel Expenses. Travel expenses for pre-employment interviews will be authorized and travel will be undertaken in accordance with travel regulations issued by the General Services Administration (41 CFR Chapters 301-304 and SM 340.7).
B. Candidate Consideration. Prior to requesting use of this authority, management must conduct telephone or face-to-face interviews with all of the best qualified candidates certified on a merit promotion certificate for employment consideration, or where applicable, with those candidates within reach for appointment on an OPM certificate of eligibles. As a general rule, pre-employment interviews will be authorized only when meaningful distinctions cannot be made between the qualifications of candidates or the position is so unique or highly specialized that face-to-face interviews are essential for final qualifications determinations.
C. Limitations on the Approval of Travel for Interviews.
(1) Travel expenses for pre-employment interviews will generally be paid for no more than the three best qualified available candidates within reach for appointment on an OPM Certificate of Eligibles, Standard Form (SF) 39, or USGS Merit Promotion Certificate. In no case should the number of paid pre-employment interviews exceed five candidates unless division chief approval has been obtained. Travel expenses for the interview of a nonpreference eligible referred on an OPM certificate of eligibles may not be authorized until all preference eligibles available for appointment and ranked ahead of the nonpreference eligible have been offered the opportunity for face-to-face interviews.
(2) Travel for pre-employment interviews may not commence until necessary management approvals have been obtained and appropriate travel authorizations have been issued.
(3) Management should use caution to insure that there is not disparate treatment among the applicants offered the opportunity for payment of pre-employment interview expenses.
D. Travel Reimbursement. Interviewees are authorized to receive reimbursement for only those travel related expenses normally incurred by Federal employees on temporary duty travel (TDY) such as, transportation, rental car, and per diem.
(1) Normally the reimbursement for transportation will be for airfare and ground transportation between the airport, the USGS interview site, and the interviewee's hotel (if applicable). However, reimbursement may be made for use of the interviewee's privately owned vehicle (POV) if it does not exceed the cost for airfare.
(2) Management may elect to authorize only specific/selected expenses (e.g., transportation, but not per diem). However, the interviewee is entitled to the full reimbursement for each specific expense authorized. The travel authorization should clearly document which expenses are approved for reimbursement.
6. Procedures and Required Documentation.
A. USGS Form 9-3038, Approval of Payment for Travel and Transportation Expenses for Pre-employment Interviews or to First Post of Duty, will be used to document the justification and approval of travel expenses associated with the conduct of pre-employment interviews. The justification must specifically state the reason(s) why face-to-face interviews (see 370.572.1.5B) are necessary in assessing candidate qualifications for employment. The form will be submitted through division channels to the appropriate management official for approval prior to the issuance of travel authorizations to interviewees.
B. Following management approval, signed copies of USGS Form 9-3038, Approval of Payment for Travel and Transportation Expenses for Pre-employment Interviews or to First Post of Duty, will be forwarded immediately to (1) the originating office, and (2) the servicing personnel office. The approving office will maintain the signed original of USGS Form 9-3038. The originating office will prepare the DOI Travel Authorization Form (DI-1020) for approval. The purpose and remarks section of the travel authorization must document the following remarks: "Payment of travel expenses for pre-employment interview" and "Division chief approval granted on USGS Form 9-3038 on (date)." The approved travel authorization will be forwarded with the travel voucher to the Office of Financial Management.
C. Documentation in support of approval actions made under this authority will be maintained by the approving official for a period of 2 years from the date of approval.
7. Reports. The servicing personnel offices will submit reports on the use of this authority to the Office of Personnel Management as requested.