Benefit Practices for Permanent and Temporary Federal Employees

Gao ID: GGD-85-54 June 10, 1985

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the benefits available to permanent and temporary federal employees; (2) the additional cost to the government if temporary employees received the same benefits as permanent employees; and (3) whether temporary employees are working recurring workperiods at the Forest Service's Northern Region.

GAO found that: (1) generally, permanent employees are eligible for all benefits; however, temporary employees are not covered by the civil service retirement system, federal employees group life and health insurance, or the severance pay programs; and (2) the actual cost to extend civil service retirement benefits to temporary employees cannot be estimated until Congress develops a new retirement system for employees hired after December 31, 1983, who have social security coverage. GAO noted that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued instructions for agencies to follow specifying that individuals working recurring periods of 6 months or more should be given permanent seasonal appointments rather than temporary appointments and would, therefore, be entitled to full benefit coverage. According to the Forest Service personnel staff, the type of appointment an individual will receive depends on: (1) the type of work to be performed; (2) whether the work is of a recurring nature; (3) budget resources; and (4) the ability to recruit workers. GAO noted that OPM gave federal agencies new authority to make and extend temporary limited appointments without prior approval in increments of 1 year each, up to a total of 4 years, to encourage agency use of temporary employees and to provide increased flexibility to deal with peak workloads.

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