FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: How much leave will I accumulate?
Q: What is the difference between the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)?
The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) is a retirement benefits plan composed of three sources: a Basic Benefits Plan, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The Basic Benefit and Social Security parts of FERS require you to make contributions each pay period. The cost of the Basic Benefit and Social Security are withheld from your pay as payroll deductions. The Government makes contributions too. Then, after you retire, you receive benefit checks each month for the rest of your life. This is what is called an annuity. The Thrift Savings Plan part of FERS is an account that is automatically set up for you. Each pay period your employing agency deposits into your account an amount equal to 1% of the basic pay you earn for the pay period. You can also make your own contributions to your TSP account and your agency will contribute even more.
Q: How long do I have to elect health benefits coverage (FEHB)?
You have 60 days from your first day to elect health benefits.
Q: When will my FEHB be effective?
Once you elect coverage, your health benefits will be effective the next pay period. Please be aware that it may take up to 4 weeks to receive your enrollment card. Please contact your health benefits carrier for additional information.
Q: How long do I have to sign up for the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)?
You can sign up to contribute to the TSP at any time. Your contributors will begin no later than the first full pay period after your agency accepts your election. If you are a FERS employee, your agency contributions will begin once you satisfy the mandatory waiting period.
Q: When will my FEHB and/or TSP deduction come out of my paycheck?
When will my FEHB and/or TSP deduction come out of my paycheck?
Q: How long do I have to elect Federal Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)?
You have 31 days from your first day to elect life insurance. Please be aware that if you do not elect life insurance – open season for life insurance is rare. In order to elect at a later date, you either need an open season or a life event.
Q: Where can I find more information on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)?
You can find information on FSA’s at http://www.fsafeds.com/fsafeds/index.asp.
Q: Who do I contact for questions regarding my benefits?
For in depth questions concerning your benefits, please contact our benefits customer service line at 317-510-0454. (DFAS-Indianapolis)
Some of your questions may also be answered at the following website: http://www.opm.gov/insurance/
Q: If am a temporary employee, am I eligible to receive health benefits?
If your position is excluded from coverage because your appointment is limited to one year or less, you will be eligible to enroll under 5 U.S.C. 8906a when you have completed one year of current continuous employment, excluding any break in service of 5 days or less. You must pay both the employee and the Government shares of the premium.
The one year requirement may be met at the end of a one year appointment in a single agency or it may be based on a series of shorter appointments served in one or more agencies, as long as you have not had a break in service of more than 5 days.
In many cases, a temporary appointment lasts one year. If your appointment is renewed at the end of that year, you are eligible to enroll.
For additional information, please see – http://www.opm.gov/insure/handbook/FEHB08.asp.
To whom do I ask pay/leave questions?
Q: Who can answer pay/leave questions?
You should contact an HR Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: When do I start earning leave?
If you start work on the first Monday of the pay period, you will earn leave the first pay period. If you start work any time after that Monday, you will have to wait until the next pay period before you accrue any annual or sick leave.
Q: Do I have to enroll in direct deposit?
Yes, it is now mandatory by the Federal Government that all employees enroll in direct deposit.
Q: Will a pay stub be mailed to my home?
Until you have an account in MyPay, a hard copy of your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) will be mailed to your home address. To request a password for MyPay please go to http://www.dfas.mil.
Q: What will be coming out of my pay check?
To get an understanding of your Leave and Earnings Statement, please visit http://www.defenselink.mil.
Q: When do I get paid?
Paydays are every other Friday.
Q: What are some of the differences between faculty positions and staff positions?
Teaching positions fall under a special hiring authority (excepted service), making them exempt from Title 5. Their pay is determined by an administratively determined pay scale, as opposed to the NSPS standard career group pay scale.
Q: What is an excepted service appointment?
Appointments to the excepted service, are civil service appointments within the Federal government that do not confer competitive status. Unclassified service, unclassified Civil Service or positions outside the competitive service and the senior executive service. Excepted service positions have been excepted from the requirements of the competitive service by law.
Q: What is the administratively determined (AD) pay scale?
Congress authorizes agency heads to set salaries for those in Administratively Determined pay systems. These salaries may apply to the entire agency or to particular groups of positions without regard to the General Schedule. Some agencies under this pay system establish their own schedules of rates (the AD pay plan is an example of this); others use the generic General Schedule grade and step structure (pay plan GG is an example of this). Separate provisions are also made for stipend payments to certain student employees training in Government hospitals, clinics, or laboratories and for payments to member residents who work at Federal institutions, such as the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Nurses employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Health Administration also have a unique, locality- based pay plan (VN).
Q: What are the qualifications for faculty?
Faculty positions are broken into 3 different levels or groups, which correspond with the 3 pay bands on the Administratively Determined (AD) pay scale. The qualifications for the different groups are below:
Group A must possess a Bachelor’s degree.
Group B must possess a Master’s degree and 4-6 years of relevant experience.
Group C must possess a Master’s degree and 6-8 years of relevant experience.
Q: What is the hiring process for faculty?
Due to the excepted service status of faculty positions, your application and required supplemental documents are submitted directly to our Human Resources office. A referral package is created and sent to the relevant selecting official, who sets up a selection panel and interviews. After the interviews have been completed a numeric score is attached to each applicant based on pre-defined criteria. Once a selection has been made, the hiring package is created and approved. An offer is then made to the selectee. This process generally lasts 90-180 days depending on the number of applicants and the number of interviews.
Q: What are some of the differences between staff positions and faculty positions?
Staff positions are part of the competitive civil service. The staff pay at Defense Acquisition University (DAU) falls under the National Security Personnel System Standard Career Group pay scale.
Q: What is the competitive civil service?
Competitive civil service jobs are filled according to a merit system where the best qualified candidates are chosen based on an application and interview process. Managers can hire a current federal employee (promotion or transfer) or may choose to hire someone from outside the federal government.
Q: What is the National Security Personnel System?
NSPS is the Department of Defense’s (DoD) flexible and responsive civilian management system that:
NSPS modernizes a 50-year-old civil service system, allowing DoD to better attract, recruit, retain, compensate, reward, and manage employees. The system focuses on people, performance, and employment decisions that are cost-effective and best for business practice.
Q: What are the qualifications for staff?
There is no definitive answer regarding qualifications for staff. Each job announcement goes into detail of what qualifications are required by the position. For general qualifications for the different occupational series visit: http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/html/gsseries.asp
Q: What is the hiring process for staff and how long does it take?
Your application and required supplements are submitted to DFAS-Indianapolis where it is reviewed for qualifications. A referral list is prepared based on the applicants qualifications and the list along with the resumes are sent to our Human Resources office. A selection package is created and sent to the relevant selecting official, who then makes a selection based on a set of pre-defined rules. Once a selection has been made, the hiring package is created and approved. An offer is then made to the selectee. This process generally lasts 90-180 days depending on the number of applicants, number of interviews, and the Priority Placement Program. When there is a Priority Placement List, all priority placements must be cleared before the selecting official can view the referral list.
Q: What is the Priority Placement Program?
The Priority Placement Program (PPP) is an automated mandatory placement program used to match eligible well-qualified employees government employees, most of whom are subject to displacement, with vacant positions throughout DoD. It enables DoD to maintain a relatively stable work force during base realignment and closure, reduction-in-force, contracting out, etc., and minimizes the adverse effect of these actions on employees. The PPP has long been the most effective program of its kind in the Federal government.
Q: What are the differences between being a STEP and a SCEP?
As a temporary employee, a STEP receives no benefits for the first year of employment. When one year of continuous employment is completed, excluding any break in service lasting 5 days or less, the STEP may decide to elect into a benefits plan. The employee, however, is responsible for the full amount of the premium, with no contribution from the employer.
SCEPS, however, are considered regular career employee which allows them access to all benefits offered by their employer.
Q: What, specifically, are the benefits offered?
Q: What are the educational qualifications for STEPS and SCEPS?
An academic year of post high school education is defined as: 30 semester hours, 45 quarter hours, or the equivalent in an accredited college or university, or approximately 36 weeks for at least 20 classroom hours per week in an accredited business, technical, or secretarial school. One full semester is equal to 15 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours.
Q: What happens after my I have completed my education?
Because of the nature of the position, STEPs will be required to end their employment with DAU after completing their educational program. They may choose to apply to an open announcement, however they are not automatically converted to a career appointment.
SCEPs may be converted non-competitively to a competitive service career appointment to the target position at any time within 120 days following completion of their educational and work experience requirements and the following conditions are met: