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Rule

Interagency Career Transition Assistance for Displaced Former Panama Canal Zone Employees

Action

Final Rule.

Summary

The Office of Personnel Management is issuing final regulations that provide certain displaced employees of the former Panama Canal Zone with interagency priority consideration for vacant competitive service positions in the continental United States. These regulations are applicable to eligible displaced employees of the former Panama Canal Zone who were separated because of the transfer of Panama Canal operations and full control to the Republic of Panama.

Unified Agenda

Interagency Career Transition Assistance for Displaced Panama Canal Zone Employees

2 actions from May 7th, 1999 to June 2000

  • May 7th, 1999
  • June 2000
    • Final Action
 

Table of Contents Back to Top

DATES: Back to Top

These final regulations are effective September 28, 2000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Back to Top

Thomas A. Glennon or Jacqueline R. Yeatman, 202-606-0960, FAX 202-606-2329.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Back to Top

Background Back to Top

On May 7, 1999, OPM published interim regulations at 64 FR 24504 that authorize special interagency selection priority for certain employees who are displaced from positions under the Panama Canal Employment System. The interim regulations were effective upon publication in the Federal Register. Interested parties had 60 days to submit written comments.

For reference, the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977, as implemented through 96 (93 Stat. 452, The Panama Canal Act of 1979, approved September 27, 1979, and generally effective October 1, 1979), provides for the final transfer of Panama Canal operations and full control of the former Canal Zone geographic area from the Government of the United States to the Republic of Panama on December 31, 1999. This action resulted in the involuntary separation, or geographic relocation, of most United States citizens working as Federal employees in the Canal Area.

Section 1212(a) of the Panama Canal Act, as codified in 22 U.S.C. 3652, authorized the President to establish the Panama Canal Employment System in accordance with applicable Treaty requirements and other provisions of law. Most Federal employees in the Canal Area held excepted service positions under the Panama Canal Employment System. However, § 1212(a) requires full interchange between these excepted service Panama Canal Employment System positions and positions in the competitive service.

Section 1232 of the Panama Canal Act, as codified in 22 U.S.C. 3672, provides certain employees of the former Canal Zone with priority consideration for continuing vacant Federal positions.

Specifically, § 1232(a) of the Act authorizes special selection priority for any citizen of the United States who was an employee of the Panama Canal Company or the Canal Zone Government on March 31, 1979, and was subsequently involuntarily separated by reduction in force. This priority is not available to otherwise eligible employees who are placed in another appropriate Federal position that is located in the Republic of Panama.

Similarly, § 1232(b) of the Act authorizes special selection priority for any citizen of the United States who, on March 31, 1979, was employed in the Canal Zone under the Panama Canal Employment System as an employee of an executive branch agency (including the Smithsonian Institution), and whose position was eliminated as the result of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 and related agreements. This priority is not available to otherwise eligible employees who are appointed to another appropriate Federal position that is located in the Republic of Panama.

Section 1232(c) of the Act mandates that OPM establish and administer a Government-wide special selection priority program for all eligible displaced employees of the former Canal Zone.

Comments Back to Top

OPM received one comment, from a Federal agency, on the interim regulations.

The agency suggested that the final regulations limit interagency selection priority only to positions with no greater promotion potential than the displaced employee's former position under the Panama Canal Employment System. OPM did not adopt this suggestion because of the difficulty that a hiring agency could encounter in determining the promotion potential of the employee's former Panama Canal Employment System position, particularly after the cessation of activities on December 31, 1999.

The agency also suggested that the final regulations clarify that, in order to be eligible for this interagency selection program, a displaced employee must have a last performance rating of “Fully Successful” or equivalent (i.e., Summary Level 3, as defined in 5 CFR 430.208(d)). OPM adopted this suggestion, which was implied in the interim regulations. The final regulations clarify OPM's intention that the placement program for displaced former Panama Canal Zone employees follows the general eligibility requirements set forth in 5 CFR 330.704(a)(2) for other displaced employees, who are eligible for selection priority under the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan, which is authorized by 5 CFR 330, subpart G.

On another item, the agency suggested that OPM clarify that these regulations follow the same general order of selection that is provided under 5 CFR 330.705(a) for actions under the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan. OPM has also adopted this suggestion, again because the final regulations clarify OPM's intention that the placement program for displaced former Panama Canal Zone employees follows the general provisions applicable to displaced employees who are eligible for selection priority under the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan.

In addition, the agency suggested that OPM provide a definition of “Continental United States.” Upon review, we believe that this issue is presently covered by paragraph 5 CFR 210.102(b)(9), which provides that “Overseas means outside the continental United States, but does not include Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, the Isthmus of Panama, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands.”

Finally, the agency suggested that OPM provide information on the payment of relocation expenses for displaced employees. This issue is beyond the scope of OPM's statutory and regulatory responsibility, and is therefore not covered in these final regulations.

Final Regulations on the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program for Displaced Panama Canal Zone Employees Back to Top

Eligible displaced employees of the former Panama Canal Zone are eligible for interagency special selection priority in this new program on a similar basis as that provided to many displaced Federal employees under the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan. However, eligible displaced employees of the former Canal Zone receive special selection priority when applying for vacant positions throughout the continental United States, while the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan provides priority consideration to other displaced Federal employees only in the local commuting area where the displaced employee was separated.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Back to Top

I certify that this regulation will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it affects only certain Federal employees.

Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Review Back to Top

This rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with Executive Order 12866.

List of Subjects in 5 CFR Part 330 Back to Top

U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Janice R. Lachance,

Director.

begin regulatory text

Accordingly, the interim rule which was published at 64 FR 24504 is adopted as final with the following changes:

PART 330—RECRUITMENT, SELECTION, AND PLACEMENT (GENERAL) Back to Top

1.The authority citation for part 330 is revised to read as follows:

Authority:

5 U.S.C. 1302, 3301, 3302; E.O. 10577, 3 CFR 1954-58 Comp., p. 218; § 330.102 also issued under 5 U.S.C 3327; subpart B also issued under 5 U.S.C. 3315 and 8151; § 330.401 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 3310, subpart I also issued under sec. 4432 of 102, 106 Stat. 2315; subpart K also issued under sec. 11203 of Pub. L. 105-33, 111 Stat. 738; subpart L also issued under sec. 1232 of 96, 93 Stat. 452.

2.Subpart L of part 330 is revised to read as follows:

INTERAGENCY CAREER TRANSITION ASSISTANCE FOR DISPLACED FORMER PANAMA CANAL ZONE EMPLOYEES Back to Top

Subpart L—Interagency Career Transition Assistance for Displaced Former Panama Canal Zone Employees Back to Top

§ 330.1201 Purpose.

This subpart implements Section 1232 of 96 (the Panama Canal Act of 1979) and provides eligible displaced employees of the former Panama Canal Zone with interagency special selection priority for continuing Federal vacant positions in the continental United States.

§ 330.1202 Definitions.

For purposes of this subpart:

(a) Agency means an Executive Department, a Government corporation, and an independent establishment as cited in 5 U.S.C. 105. For the purposes of this program, the term “agency” includes all components of an organization, including its Office of Inspector General.

(b) Canal Zone is the definition set forth in 22 U.S.C. 3602(b)(1), and means the areas and installations in the Republic of Panama made available to the United States pursuant to the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 and related agreements;

(c) Eligible displaced employee of the former Panama Canal Zone means a citizen of the United States who:

(1) Held a position in the Panama Canal Employment System that is in retention tenure group 1 or 2, as defined in § 351.501(a) of this chapter;

(2)(i) Was an employee of the Panama Canal Company or the Canal Zone Government on March 31, 1979, and was continuously employed in the former Panama Canal Zone under the Panama Canal Employment System; or

(ii) Was continuously employed since March 31, 1979, in the former Panama Canal Zone under the Panama Canal Employment System as an employee of an executive agency, or as an employee of the Smithsonian Institution;

(3) Held a position that was eliminated as the result of the implementation of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 and related agreements;

(4) Was not appointed to another appropriate Federal position located in the Republic of Panama; and

(5) Received a specific notice of separation by reduction in force, and meets the additional eligibility criteria covered in § 330.1203.

(d) Special selection priority means that an eligible displaced employee of the former Panama Canal Zone who applies for a competitive service vacancy, and who the hiring agency in the continental United States determines is well-qualified, has the same special selection priority as a current or former displaced Federal employee who is eligible under 5 CFR part 330, subpart G (the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan), or under 5 CFR part 330, subpart K (Federal Employment Priority Consideration for Displaced Employees of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections). Eligible displaced employees of the former Panama Canal Zone have special selection priority under this subpart to positions throughout the continental United States.

(e) Vacancy means a competitive service position to be filled for a total of 121 days or more, including all extensions, which the agency is filling, regardless of whether the agency issues a specific vacancy announcement.

(f) Well-qualified employee means an eligible displaced former employee of the Panama Canal Zone who possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities that clearly exceed the minimum qualification requirements for the position. A well-qualified employee will not necessarily meet the agency's definition of highly or best qualified, when evaluated against other candidates who apply for a particular vacancy, but must satisfy the following criteria, as determined and consistently applied by the agency:

(1) Meets the basic qualification standards and eligibility requirements for the position, including any medical qualifications, suitability, and minimum educational and experience requirements;

(2) Satisfies one of the following qualifications requirements:

(i) Meets all selective factors where applicable. Meets appropriate quality rating factor levels as determined by the agency. Selective and quality ranking factors cannot be so restrictive that they run counter to the goal of placing displaced employees. In the absence of selective and quality ranking factors, selecting officials will document the job-related reason(s) the eligible employee is or is not considered to be well-qualified; or

(ii) Is rated by the agency to be above minimally qualified in accordance with the agency's specific rating and ranking process. Generally, this means that the individual may or may not meet the agency's test for highly qualified, but would in fact, exceed the minimum qualifications for the position;

(3) Is physically qualified, with reasonable accommodation where appropriate, to perform the essential duties of the position;

(4) Meets any special qualifying condition(s) that OPM has approved for the position;

(5) Is able to satisfactorily perform the duties of the position upon entry; and

(6) Has a last performance rating of at least “Fully Successful” or equivalent.

§ 330.1203 Eligibility.

(a) In order to be eligible for special selection priority, an eligible displaced employee of the former Panama Canal Zone must:

(1) Have received a specific notice of separation by reduction in force;

(2) Have not been appointed to another appropriate position in the Government of the United States in Panama;

(3) Apply for a vacancy within the time frames established by the hiring agency; and

(4) Be found by the hiring agency as well-qualified for that specific vacancy.

(b) Eligibility for special selection priority as an eligible displaced employee of the former Panama Canal Zone begins on the date that the employee received a specific notice of separation by reduction in force.

(c) Eligibility for special selection priority as an eligible displaced employee of the former Panama Canal Zone expires on the earliest of:

(1) One year after the effective date of the reduction in force;

(2) The date that the employee receives a career, career-conditional, or excepted appointment without time limit in any agency at any grade level; or

(3) The date that the employee is separated involuntarily for cause prior to the effective date of the reduction in force action.

§ 330.1204. Selection.

(a) If two or more individuals apply for a vacancy and the hiring agency determines the individuals to be well-qualified, the agency has the discretion to select any of the individuals eligible for priority under subpart G of this part (the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan), under subpart K of this part (Federal Employment Priority Consideration for Displaced employees of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections), or under subpart L of this part (Interagency Career Transition Assistance for Displaced Former Panama Canal Zone Employees).

(b) Except as provided in § 330.705(c), when filling a position from outside the agency's workforce, the agency must select:

(1) Current or former agency employees eligible under the agency's Reemployment Priority List described in subpart B of this part; then

(2) At the agency's option, any other former employee displaced from the agency (under appropriate selection procedures, then:

(3) Current or former Federal employees displaced from other agencies who are eligible under subparts G, K, or L of this part, and then:

(4) Any other candidate (under appropriate selection procedures) (optional).

end regulatory text

[FR Doc. 00-21947 Filed 8-28-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6325-01-P

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