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The Department of Defense (DoD) is charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and the United States armed forces. The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.

The Department of Defense is America's oldest and largest government agency -tracing its roots back to pre-Revolutionary times. Today, the Department is not only in charge of the military, but it also employs a civilian force of thousands. With over 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 718,000 civilian personnel, DoD is the nation's largest employer. Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces. More than 2 million military retirees and their family members receive benefits.

Perhaps you are working for the DoD or interested in working for the DoD. Here is a forum to share your experience with the DoD.
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Theiceman1176  
#1 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 10:41:26 AM(UTC)
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If anyone could please talk me off the ledge or just listen to me vent. I am a GS 11 in Texas. Applied to a public vacancy announcement for a GS 12 in Virginia. Announcement was open to the public. Stated that “Yes, you may qualify for reimbursement of relocation expenses in accordance with agency policy”. I was flown in by the Navy to interview. I was selected for the position. I received a tentative job offer about a week ago.

Prior to accepting, I stated that I qualified for PCS/Relocation expenses under the Joint Travel Regulation and would like those expenses covered. They immediately replied that they would offer a one year relocation incentive but not PCS. This totals about $18k before and $15k after taxes. I would receive about 5 weeks after my arrival so the move would be completely out of pocket.

I quoted the Joint Travel Regulation to them and the selecting official called and said that HR is telling him that due to budget constraints despite the vacancy announcement they will not authorize PCS costs. Also due to the fact that there were other “viable” candidates. When I asked them to reconsider and stated that agency policy says they have to honor the vacancy announcement, they sent me a take it or leave it email. I have until Wednesday to answer.

I really want the job. I really want a smooth relocation. I applied believing that my relocation would be supported. Don’t want to make waves before I even arrive. I feel the same as if they told me we know the announcement said GS 12 but we only have money for GS 11 and we know we selected you but we have others willing to work for GS 11 pay.

They have been very careful not to use the word denied or address my direct question about PCS costs. They keep replying that “this is what the command is authorizing”. I feel like it would really upset everyone if I just took the job, took the incentive, then filed a travel claim after the fact. Would be awesome if I could transfer without up front costs. And without pissing off the entire base before I even get there.

Also why is HR making this determination. Shouldn’t it be the travel or finance office? And why put it in the announcement if you didn’t have the money. They are trying to say relocation expenses could mean an incentive or PCs costs. But incentives aren’t addressed in the JTR.
Endless Summer  
#2 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 12:13:43 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Theiceman1176 Go to Quoted Post
If anyone could please talk me off the ledge or just listen to me vent. I am a GS 11 in Texas. Applied to a public vacancy announcement for a GS 12 in Virginia. Announcement was open to the public. Stated that “Yes, you may qualify for reimbursement of relocation expenses in accordance with agency policy”. I was flown in by the Navy to interview. I was selected for the position. I received a tentative job offer about a week ago.

Prior to accepting, I stated that I qualified for PCS/Relocation expenses under the Joint Travel Regulation and would like those expenses covered. They immediately replied that they would offer a one year relocation incentive but not PCS. This totals about $18k before and $15k after taxes. I would receive about 5 weeks after my arrival so the move would be completely out of pocket.

I quoted the Joint Travel Regulation to them and the selecting official called and said that HR is telling him that due to budget constraints despite the vacancy announcement they will not authorize PCS costs. Also due to the fact that there were other “viable” candidates. When I asked them to reconsider and stated that agency policy says they have to honor the vacancy announcement, they sent me a take it or leave it email. I have until Wednesday to answer.

I really want the job. I really want a smooth relocation. I applied believing that my relocation would be supported. Don’t want to make waves before I even arrive. I feel the same as if they told me we know the announcement said GS 12 but we only have money for GS 11 and we know we selected you but we have others willing to work for GS 11 pay.

They have been very careful not to use the word denied or address my direct question about PCS costs. They keep replying that “this is what the command is authorizing”. I feel like it would really upset everyone if I just took the job, took the incentive, then filed a travel claim after the fact. Would be awesome if I could transfer without up front costs. And without pissing off the entire base before I even get there.

Also why is HR making this determination. Shouldn’t it be the travel or finance office? And why put it in the announcement if you didn’t have the money. They are trying to say relocation expenses could mean an incentive or PCs costs. But incentives aren’t addressed in the JTR.


Sorry to hear that you're getting off on the wrong foot with them. The announcement does say "may" which isn't the same as "will". Do you think that a self move will cost you more than the 15/18k they are offering as a relocation bonus? It's just from Texas to VA... Sure, they wouldn't be on the hook to move you back but that's likely to be covered by your next job.

Maybe they have a local candidate (it IS Virginia after all) who wouldn't cost them a dime in relocation. HR is under pressure to reduce costs, they may just go with the #2 or #3 choice if he's local.

If you really want the job you need to crunch some numbers and see if there's a way you can fund the move for the $15k they offered. Otherwise you need to let this one pass. Trying to argue with HR about regs is not likely to get you anywhere.

If it makes you feel any better, a 12 in VA, even with the locality pay, isn't a lot of dough compared with an 11 in TX.

Good Luck
Theiceman1176  
#3 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 12:41:07 PM(UTC)
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Thanks for taking the time to read and reply. My understanding is the “May” is placed to mean only if you qualify in accordance with the JTR. If the put “will” then that means anyone and everyone would demand relocation expenses paid
Rikaku  
#4 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 2:13:06 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: Theiceman1176 Go to Quoted Post
Thanks for taking the time to read and reply. My understanding is the “May” is placed to mean only if you qualify in accordance with the JTR. If the put “will” then that means anyone and everyone would demand relocation expenses paid



Nope. "May" means just that. They have offered you a relocation bonus as a concession, so it's either take it or leave it. You don't really have a leg to stand on to try to force them to pay for something they never said was a guarantee.

My advice is to take the job and focus on the future. A year or two from now this whole episode over a few dollars will be behind you and your career will be better off for taking the move.

Edited by user Sunday, July 21, 2019 2:16:03 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Theiceman1176  
#5 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 2:34:37 PM(UTC)
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Thanks for playing devils advocate. Seems so unethical. Bait and switch. Of course had they said “no” like all of the case law I’m reading they wouldn’t have gotten as many qualified applicants. Also reading in GAO appeal decisions unless the announcement says “no” then it becomes an entitlement under 5USC. And it didn’t say they may pay it said I may qualify in accordance with agency policy (JTR) according to the JTR I “do” qualify.

And according to the JTR unless the announcement says they will not pay, they must pay. And it’s not a few dollars. I’m not an a single airman. I have a family and 3k square foot house that I need to pack up and move. Then need to sell the house. My estimate is about $30k and theirs is about $55k. These are conservative estimates. My understanding is incentives are in a whole other regulation and not governed by the JTR.

From the JTR:
0536 STANDARD PERMANENT CHA0537 ELIGIBILITY
053705 Government Interest (Pg 354, SF-8)

(A) Determining Factors – PCS travel and transportation allowances must be paid when it is in the Government’s interest to fill a position by moving a civilian employee from one PDS to another.

(A) Budget Constraints do not justify denying PCS Allowances.

0546 RELOCATION SERVICES (Pg 422, SF-76) “Applying for a Vacancy Announcement is considered in the Government’s interest”.

https://www.gao.gov/mobile/products/483273

Theiceman1176  
#6 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 2:58:00 PM(UTC)
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I’m honestly appreciative of the feedback. Wanted to hear from a regulatory standpoint why I’m wrong more than why I’m right.

Verbatim the announcement states:
RELOCATION EXPENSES REIMBURSED
Yes You may qualify for reimbursement of relocation expenses in accordance with agency policy. They may is referring to qualification under the JTR. The Yes is saying they will be reimbursed.

So this is where 5 USC and the JTR come into play as “relocation expenses” and “relocation incentives” are not interchangeable. Two separate things.
Rikaku  
#7 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 3:05:01 PM(UTC)

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That's actually not what the JTR says.

Complete section:

"Determining Factors. PCS travel and transportation allowances must be paid when it is in the Government’s interest to fill a position by moving a civilian employee from one PDS to another. Case- by-case factors, such as cost-effectiveness, labor market conditions, and difficulty in filling the vacancy, form the basis for determining whether to offer PCS allowances. Budget constraints do not justify denying PCS allowances."

You would have a hard time proving that paying for your move would be in the Government's best interest for a GS-12 position. Those factors listed - cost effectiveness, labor conditions, difficulty in filling the vacancy - all apply, and they have already stated that they have other qualified candidates in the event you don't want the job.
Theiceman1176  
#8 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 3:25:07 PM(UTC)
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There’s nothing to prove. The agency has already determined as defined in the JTR that an applicant transferring due to a vacancy announcement is transferring in the best interest of the government. Period, new paragraph.

0546 RELOCATION SERVICES (Pg 422, SF-76) “Applying for a Vacancy Announcement is considered in the Government’s interest”.

Also for context, case by case is done before the announcement is advertised. So if it is determined at that point there are enough local qualified applicants, the announcement will read “No”. Page 354-355 of the JTR

Responsibilities. It is each DoD Component’s responsibility to make decisions that balance a civilian employee’s rights and the prudent use of appropriated funds. Before a DoD Component advertises for a vacancy, the appropriate official should determine if it is in the Government’s interest to pay PCS allowances taking case-by-case factors into consideration.

For example, an activity may determine that well-qualified candidates exist within a particular geographical area and restrict the recruitment area in the recruitment announcement or indicate that PCS allowances are not offered. This information should be provided in the position advertisement, but can be decided after the applicants are referred to the selecting official.
Theiceman1176  
#9 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 3:50:04 PM(UTC)
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Verbatim from the Comptroller General
WHEN AN AGENCY ISSUES A VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT UNDER ITS MERIT PROMOTION PROGRAM SUCH ACTION IS A RECRUITMENT ACTION AND WHEN AN EMPLOYEE TRANSFERS PURSUANT TO SUCH ACTION THE TRANSFER SHOULD NORMALLY BE REGARDED AS BEING IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE ABSENCE OF AGENCY REGULATIONS TO THE CONTRARY.
https://www.gao.gov/mobile/products/483273

Federal Travel Regulation
§302-1.1 WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR RELOCATION EXPENSE ALLOWANCES UNDER THIS CHAPTER?
You are generally eligible for relocation expense allowances under this chapter if you are:
1. A new appointee appointed to your first official
station (as discussed in this chapter);
1. An employee transferring in the interest of the Government from one agency or duty station to another for permanent duty, and your new duty station is at least 50 miles distant from your old duty station (see §302-2.6 of this chapter);
https://www.gsa.gov/poli...tr?asset=122676#i1189001
Theiceman1176  
#10 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 3:57:15 PM(UTC)
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If anyone could help with anything other than an opinion I’d be grateful. :-/ Wasn’t looking to be patronized.
Polar Bear  
#11 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 3:58:39 PM(UTC)
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Why try to argue this on an internet forum? I get it, you might be trying to vent, but no one here can help you. Seemingly, no one here will tell you what you want to hear either. Take the job and the relocation incentive or not. As you probably already know, your selecting official has jack all to do with HR concerns.


This adds nothing to your problem, but dude/dudette, I've had to turn down three jobs now that were promotions based on my current level, but I couldn't afford the move.

*more opinions stated here*

Edited by user Sunday, July 21, 2019 4:01:11 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Theiceman1176  
#12 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 4:04:49 PM(UTC)
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Nah that opinion was actually constructive. Thanks for the advice. Guess I was hoping for a travel reg expert. Seems like a budget and travel issue more than a staffing one.
Polar Bear  
#13 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 4:37:57 PM(UTC)
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Btw grats on the offer, either way.

I got zero relocation help and had to move right after law school. Which that's all self-funded and I am married with animals. That was for gs 7.

If you have family move you first then bring them when that cash gets to you?
Theiceman1176  
#14 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 5:31:45 PM(UTC)
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Thanks. Yeah that’s Plan B. For me to drive up and work until DFAS can get me the incentive. If they had honored the announcement family could have all gone together
Polar Bear  
#15 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 5:48:41 PM(UTC)
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Ok, I can certainly see where the angst is coming from then. Hope you can do the move, really do.



My wife is not familiar with the whole move to the job aspect of federal jobs (military or civilian), and she's at the point in her life where she doesn't want to move at all. I grew up moving and I'm only 34, so I can certainly understand that aspect of sometimes being held back from hopes and dreams simply because of family. (I know that sounds harsh, but it's life. Sometimes what we want to do we can't). Of course one has to be realistic too, I'll make more money from hereon out than she will simply due to our backgrounds. Doesn't say anything less about her, not at all. I made a deal, wouldn't ask to move us unless it was a potential for a 3 grade jump in the long run or an immediate 2 jump and we could afford the move. That's why 'I' had to turn down a couple jobs that I would have had absolute fun doing at other agencies. I think I got extremely lucky to make the move I'm about to make in a couple weeks, and even more so that it's still based out of the same city, even though it's a 75%+ travel job.
tidus21  
#16 Posted : Sunday, July 21, 2019 7:04:22 PM(UTC)
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I have always been under the assumption that if a listing states "PCS costs are authorized" is the only way to for sure know that your PCS is guaranteed. Any other wording, in that is a toss up between if they will or they won't kind of deal. I think one of the other posters is correct in that, PCS "may" be authorized is used in a way to see on a case by case basis if a pcs cost is in the agencies best interests. I think if you had been closer to Virginia, you would have gotten a full PCS even if it stretched a bit beyond the reimbursement they offered you.

Honestly in my opinion, I would stay in Texas, and pass up the job if you cannot get a full PCS, which looks like you are not going to get. From my experience HR's handle the PCS, the only time any financial institution or travel really gets involved is to book flights or do a payout for services or reimbursements.

A one grade level increase won't help you much in Virginia due to the cost of living, you currently have no state taxes in Texas and you will probably lose money in the move.
Endless Summer  
#17 Posted : Monday, July 22, 2019 12:31:44 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Theiceman1176 Go to Quoted Post
Verbatim from the Comptroller General
WHEN AN AGENCY ISSUES A VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT UNDER ITS MERIT PROMOTION PROGRAM SUCH ACTION IS A RECRUITMENT ACTION AND WHEN AN EMPLOYEE TRANSFERS PURSUANT TO SUCH ACTION THE TRANSFER SHOULD NORMALLY BE REGARDED AS BEING IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE ABSENCE OF AGENCY REGULATIONS TO THE CONTRARY.
...


OK, you wanted legal advice from a group of anonymous internet strangers, here's some:

#1 - Your OP said this was open to the public which means it was not issued under the merit promotion program, so everything related to your rights under the MPP is irrelevant.

#2 - Just like "may", the word "should" has a very specific legal definition, and it isn't what you think.

#3 - You are a current fed. Why not take these questions to your HR?

and now for more opinion...

As has been said above, if you are going to move your family to VA as a 12, your spouse had better have something lucrative lined up or the two of you will be eating on alternate days.

Don't take this job, it's going to be a disaster for everyone involved.
FatHappyCat  
#18 Posted : Monday, July 22, 2019 12:45:25 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: Theiceman1176 Go to Quoted Post
Thanks. Yeah that’s Plan B. For me to drive up and work until DFAS can get me the incentive. If they had honored the announcement family could have all gone together


I don't think that's a good idea. If they already have little, if any, incentive to pay it to you when you're not there, pretty much can guarantee that you'll never get it when you are there.

frankgonzalez  
#19 Posted : Monday, July 22, 2019 3:34:18 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Endless Summer Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Theiceman1176 Go to Quoted Post
Verbatim from the Comptroller General
WHEN AN AGENCY ISSUES A VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT UNDER ITS MERIT PROMOTION PROGRAM SUCH ACTION IS A RECRUITMENT ACTION AND WHEN AN EMPLOYEE TRANSFERS PURSUANT TO SUCH ACTION THE TRANSFER SHOULD NORMALLY BE REGARDED AS BEING IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE ABSENCE OF AGENCY REGULATIONS TO THE CONTRARY.
...


OK, you wanted legal advice from a group of anonymous internet strangers, here's some:

#1 - Your OP said this was open to the public which means it was not issued under the merit promotion program, so everything related to your rights under the MPP is irrelevant.

#2 - Just like "may", the word "should" has a very specific legal definition, and it isn't what you think.

#3 - You are a current fed. Why not take these questions to your HR?

and now for more opinion...

As has been said above, if you are going to move your family to VA as a 12, your spouse had better have something lucrative lined up or the two of you will be eating on alternate days.

Don't take this job, it's going to be a disaster for everyone involved.
Just because this bears repeating. May=doesn't have to.

Also, they are not telling you to move in the best interest of the government (ala DOI moving its HQ from DC to Grand Junction, CO) and therefore your choice is move to keep your job or be removed.
This is a case you applied for a job and therefore you are asking for them to move you. They have informed you that they will happily move on to #2 if you decline the position. I'm guessing you are not the next Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs or Stephen Hawking otherwise I think you wouldn't have even needed to raise the question.

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
DaVinci95  
#20 Posted : Monday, July 22, 2019 4:50:09 AM(UTC)
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Allow me to pile on...

"Eligible for" does not mean "entitled to".
"May" and "should" do not mean "must".

You can continue to quote the JTR out of context, but bottom line is the Government doesn't have to give you squat. The Government hasn't directed you to move or lose your job; you have volunteered to move to take a new job. You have been offered a relocation incentive. The Government has exceeded the requirements of what it must offer you.

You don't say where in Virginia the job is. If it is in the DC area, I would advise against taking it. The cost of living is outrageous here. It's hard enough getting by (with a decent commute) on a GS14 salary. There are plenty of GS12 jobs out there in more reasonably priced locations. Now if you're going to Winchester, that's a different story. You get the benefit of DC locality without the DC prices.
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