6.334.1 Temporary Assignments under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA)

Overview of Temporary Assignments under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA)

  1. This IRM provides guidance and requirements for temporary assignments under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) in the IRS. The legal authority for assignments under the IPA is 5 USC § 3371 through 3376; the regulation is in 5 CFR Part 334. Additional information can be found on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website at: http://www.opm.gov/.

  2. One of many employment programs used by the IRS to achieve its mission within and outside the Service is the IPA Mobility Program assignment. The Intergovernmental Personnel Act of 1970 authorized this temporary assignment through the Federal system to strengthen the personnel resources of state and local governments and others and to enhance intergovernmental cooperation in the administration of programs of mutual interest.

  3. The IRS provides technical advice and assistance in tax administration or areas of mutual concern and benefit to states, local governments, commonwealths, territories, U.S. possessions, institutions of higher education, and other organizations in accordance with the IPA of 1970, Title IV (Pub. L. No. 91-648, dated January 5, 1971), commonly referred to as IPA, and IRC § 7516 of 1954, as amended. Technical advice and assistance to IRS from the above entities may also be provided under IPA regulations. Assignments may vary from a few weeks to a period of two years.

  4. The IPA provides for the temporary assignment of personnel between the Federal government and state and local governments for work of mutual concern and benefit. Delegation Order No. 122 outlines the approving officials ( IRM 1.2.45, Delegation of Authority for Human Resource Management Actions).

  5. The IPA provides that cost-sharing arrangements for mobility assignments are negotiable between the participating governments or organizations. To ensure that Federal and non-Federal organizations share equitably in the costs associated with assignments, OPM guidelines state that cost-sharing arrangements should be based on the extent to which the participating organizations benefit from the assignment. Rare exceptions might occur when an organization’s resources do not permit costs to be shared on a relative benefit basis.

Definitions and IRS Support for the IPA

  1. The phrase "state and local government" in this IRM will be treated as including commonwealths, territories, U.S. possessions, institutions of higher education and other organizations certified by OPM as eligible to participate in the mobility program.

  2. The term "advisor" used herein refers to an IRS employee assigned to a state or local government under the IPA program.

  3. The term "host agency" refers to the governmental or other organization that gains an employee for the duration of the IPA assignment.

  4. IRS will cooperate with requesting organizations and will be responsive to requests for assistance under the Act to the extent feasible.

  5. Except for Tax Practitioner Institute (TPI) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) assignments, the Directors, Embedded Human Resources, are responsible for determining that requests for IPA assistance are consistent with the intent of the Act and that the "mutual concern and benefit" test required by the Act is met.

  6. The best qualified employee, whose assignment is otherwise consistent with ongoing Service program requirements, will be selected. Efforts will be made to minimize the impact on IRS operations through loss of personnel.


  1. Following are the Servicewide guidelines for administering the provisions of the IPA. Questions on the applicability of the IPA relative to requests from state and local governments for technical assistance involving the assignment of IRS personnel should immediately be forwarded to:

    1. Small Business/Self Employed (SB/SE) Area and Field Director’s for Tax Practitioner Institute IPA assignments

    2. Chief, EEO and Diversity for HBCU IPA assignments

    3. Directors, Embedded Human Resources for all other IPA assignments

  2. To assure a Servicewide viewpoint on the mutual benefits to be derived from IPA assignments, all inquiries or requests for assistance not involving Tax Practitioner Institutes or HBCUs should be referred to the Human Capital Office (HCO), Employment, Talent and Security (ETS), Policy and Programs Office. Prior to referral, no action should be taken that could be interpreted as a tentative agreement or commitment.

  3. The assignment should meet the "mutual concern and benefit " test of the Act. That is, the assignment should be of mutual concern and benefit to the IRS, and the State or local government in terms of improved tax administration. For example:

    1. A request that an examination training course be organized and conducted by an IRS employee within a state or local tax agency for state or local employees;

    2. Requests for on-site advice or special training courses in taxpayer assistance, receipts and processing, returns compliance, examinations, appeals, criminal investigations, delinquent accounts, master files; and/or

    3. Automatic Data Processing (ADP) applications for tax administration.

  4. Tax Practitioner Institute and HBCU IPA assignments have already been determined to be of mutual benefit to the IRS and the non-Federal organization.

Assignment Procedures

  1. All assignments under the IPA are made pursuant to individual agreements between the IRS, the appropriate state or local government, and the employee. The specific content of the agreement may vary according to the assignment. The agreement should provide, at a minimum, the following information:

    1. Name, last four digits of the social security number, current job title, salary, classification, and address of the employee;

    2. Parties to the agreement (both Federal and non-Federal organizations);

    3. Position information, including organizational location of both the original position and the position entered into under the agreement;

    4. Type of assignment (e.g., detail or leave without pay; non-Federal to Federal; Federal to non-Federal), and period covered by the assignment agreement;

    5. Goals of the assignment and a brief statement of how the goals are to be achieved;

    6. Relative benefits accruing to each organization and the cost-sharing arrangement based on these benefits;

    7. How increased knowledge, skills and abilities gained by the employee during the assignment will be utilized at the completion of the assignment;

    8. Applicability of Federal conflict-of interest laws;

    9. Decisions of the Federal agency and the non-Federal organization concerning the employee's salary, supervision, payment of travel and transportation expenses, supplemental pay, entitlement to leave and holidays, provisions for reimbursement and the method of reimbursement;

    10. Arrangements for maintaining leave records;

    11. Employee benefits that will be retained; and

    12. Privacy Act Statement (e.g., release of taxpayer information and other disclosure regulations under IRC § 6103).

  2. The agreement should also make clear that if an employee is paid allowable travel, relocation, and per diem expenses, he or she must complete the entire period of the assignment or one year, whichever is shorter, or reimburse the Government for those expenses.

  3. Assignments are temporary in nature and may initially be made for a period of up to two years. Special arrangements may be made to extend the period of assignment for not more than two additional years. OPM places limitations on accepting successive IPA assignments (See 5 CFR § 334.104).

  4. As a condition of accepting an IPA assignment, an IRS employee must agree in writing to serve with the Federal government on completion of the assignment for a period equal to the length of the assignment.

  5. IRS advisors will be assigned to a state or local government either on a detail or leave without pay (LWOP) basis depending on various factors such as the position and duties assigned to the advisor and IRS decisions concerning payment and expenses.

    1. Whether an employee is assigned on detail or LWOP, he/she remains an employee of IRS and retains the rights and benefits attached to that status. The IRS employing office is responsible for documenting the LWOP or detail in accordance with established procedures.

    2. An advisor on leave without pay to a state or local government is given an appointment in accordance with the terms of the written agreement and the personnel policies of the state or local government. The advisor is paid by the state or local government and will be entitled to supplemental pay from IRS if, the state salary is less than the rate of basic pay the employee would have received in his or her IRS position. The advisor is entitled to annual and sick leave to the same extent as if he/she had continued in the regular IRS position. The advisor is also entitled to receive full service credit for retirement purposes while on LWOP and is entitled to continuation of life insurance and health benefits coverage for the duration of the assignment so long as he/she makes the required employee contributions to the appropriate funds.

  6. The advisor will be accountable to the host agency for the working details of the assignment.

  7. State and local employees may receive IPA assignments to IRS on either a detail or excepted appointment basis. An appointment to IRS may be made without regard to the provisions governing appointment in the competitive service; IRS temporary funds may be required for these assignments.

  8. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will provide guidance on the establishment of reimbursable projects, reporting reimbursable earnings, and billing procedures, as necessary.

  9. Each servicing HCO, ETS, Employment Office (EO) is responsible for obtaining pertinent processing information and preparing IPA assignment packages before submitting them for approval by the Directors, Embedded Human Resources (5 CFR § 334.103(b)). IPA mobility assignments for HBCUs and the TPI will be approved by the Chief, EEO and Diversity and Area and Field Directors, respectively.

  10. Servicing HCO, ETS, EOs are required to forward a copy of the assignment agreement to the HCO, ETS, Policy and Programs Office, after the agreement is signed by all parties.

Functions and Responsibilities of Advisors

  1. The function of advisors assigned under IPA is to help the host agency improve its tax administration or, in the case of assignments to institutions of higher education, to help the institution improve its tax educational program. The responsibilities of each participating employee will be set forth in the Assignment Agreement. Generally, they will operate in an advisory role, similar to management consultants. However, there may be instances where the employee serves in a managerial capacity, organizing and directing a new program and training a local understudy, or in an instructor capacity.

  2. The duties and responsibilities must be clearly defined in the Agreement between the IRS, the state or local government, and the advisor before they are undertaken. If at any time during the temporary assignment there are significant changes in the employee’s duties, responsibilities, salary, work assignment location or supervisory relationships, the appropriate official(s) should be notified by the advisor and the agreement modified before such duties and/or responsibilities are undertaken.

  3. When two or more IRS advisors are assigned to work in closely related fields together, the appropriate official(s) will designate one advisor as team leader.

  4. In addition to his/her role as an advisor, the responsibilities of the IRS team leader are to:

    1. Plan and execute the tax administration improvement program in collaboration with host agency officials;

    2. Supervise and assign projects to advisors and evaluate their performance;

    3. Coordinate projects;

    4. Provide monthly narrative reports to the Director; and

    5. Upon completion of the assignment, prepare a completion of assignment report indicating the impact and accomplishments of the assignment.

  5. IRS advisors on IPA assignments to state and local governments will be subject to IRS rules and policies, including security and disclosure rules and regulations, conflicts of interest, and employee conduct, as well as the rules and policies of the state or local agency to which they are assigned. Exceptions to the above should be covered in the Assignment Agreement.

  6. IRS advisors should avoid personal publicity, referring the news media to the host tax agency, and should especially avoid becoming publicly identified with any policy or sensitive tax issues or cases of the host government.

  7. IRS advisors should avoid direct involvement in the selection and recommendation of individuals for key positions in the host tax agency, even if they are specifically invited to offer recommendations.

Reporting Requirements

  1. Federal agencies which assign an employee to a state, local, institution of higher education, or other eligible organization in accordance with this part must document all IPA assignments and report to OPM upon request.

  2. OPM requires that all details under the authority of the IPA be documented on an SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action.