Program Information

The Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP) provides eligible spouses with employment opportunities in key positions at missions abroad. EPAP is different from other family member employment opportunities in that it offers responsibilities similar to Foreign Service entry-level positions (EPAP entry-level position descriptions which are modelled after RMA’s position classification standards). Most EPAP positions are centrally funded by the Department of State and are administered by the appropriate Washington regional or functional bureau. Other distinctive components of EPAP are:

  1. EPAP applicants must clearly demonstrate during the application process that they meet or exceed the EPAP requirements of the position(s) for which they are applying.
  2. EPAP employees will complete the functional training necessary for the position (in most cases) at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI).
  3. The Department of State will fund a list of approved courses plus necessary travel, per diem, and salary during the training.

Regional bureaus are permitted to fill a total of 400 EPAP positions. Additionally the Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) plans to fund up to 50 Information Management (IM) positions and the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) plans to fund up to 35 Facilities Manager positions. When an EPAP position becomes vacant, the position returns to the regional bureau, IRM or OBO as appropriate, who will determine whether the position will remain at that post or be reassigned to another post.

In addition to these centrally funded positions, individual posts have the option of creating post-funded ICASS positions with prior approval from their regional or functional bureau, as appropriate.

EPAP positions include the following areas: Political, Economic, Management, Public Diplomacy, Facilities Management, Human Resources, Financial Management, General Services, Information Management, Office Management, and Medical.

Eligibility

Meeting the AEFM Eligibility Definition

To be eligible to apply for positions, individuals must meet the definition of an AEFM as described in 3 FAM 7120. Those who meet ALL of the following are considered to be AEFMs for employment purposes:

  1. Is a U.S. citizen;
  2. Is the spouse (as defined in 3 FAM 1610) of a sponsoring employee (i.e., a Direct Hire Foreign Service (FS), Civil Service (CS), or uniformed service member who is or will be assigned (not TDY) to a U.S. mission abroad under Chief of Mission (COM) authority, or at an office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT);
  3. Is listed on one of the following:
  • Travel orders of a sponsoring employee who is assigned (not TDY) to a U.S. mission abroad under COM authority, or at an office of the AIT, or
  • An approved Form OF-126, Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (or other agency equivalent), of a sponsoring employee who is assigned (not TDY) to a U.S. mission abroad under COM authority, or at an office of the AIT, and is residing at the sponsoring employee’s post of assignment abroad;
  1. Does not receive a U.S. Government retirement annuity or pension from a career in the U.S. Foreign Service or Civil Service.
  2. Is not a Foreign Service Generalist or Specialist in Leave Without Pay (LWOP) status;
  3. Is not a Civil Service employee with re-employment rights to his/her agency or bureau (see 22 U.S.C. § 3950).

Documenting Eligibility

Applicants must provide the required documents to prove their eligibility at the time of application. See Checklist of mandatory and optional documents. Incomplete application packages will not be considered.

Additional Eligibility Requirements Include:

  1. EPAP positions are full-time positions unless otherwise specified. As with all EFM appointments, availability may be a factor.
  2. AEFMs must be able to obtain and maintain the appropriate level of security clearance for their position.
  3. EPAP employees hired in this cycle will be required to complete certain functional training.

Hiring Preference

Applicants in the categories below receive a hiring preference in the order listed. Therefore, it is essential that these applicants accurately describe their status on the application. Failure to do so may result in a determination that the applicant is not eligible for a hiring preference.

Hiring Preference Order

  1. AEFM who is also a preference-eligible U.S. Veteran*
  2. AEFM

*Important: Applicants who claim status as a preference-eligible U.S. Veteran must submit a copy of the most recent Member Copy Four (4) of the DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, and, if applicable, a letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or other supporting documentation. If claiming conditional eligibility for U.S. Veterans’ preference, applicants must submit proof of conditional eligibility. If the written documentation confirming eligibility is not received in the HR office by the closing date of the vacancy announcement, the U.S. Veterans’ preference will not be considered in the application process. Mission HR’s decision on eligibility for U.S. Veterans’ preference after reviewing all required documentation is final.

Qualification Standards

In 2019, the Department of State revised the Qualification Standards to better address post needs and to include more of the diverse abilities offered by family members. In addition, the updated Qualification Standards now offer a wider range of grades for positions that were previously offered with one grade only and also take into account professional experience in lieu of/or in addition to specialized experience. By further defining the Qualification Standards’ minimum education and professional or specialized experience requirements, the Qualification Standards ensure consistency in position grading for EPAP positions. The Department of State also believes that the Qualification Standards combined with selected FSI position-specific functional training will further enhance the program.

Before applying for a position, EFMs should carefully review the Qualification Standards. Applicants should ensure that their application package is complete and that it clearly demonstrates that they meet or exceed the stated qualifications.

Please note that candidates who successfully served in an EPAP position may be considered for the same position at the same grade. Additionally those who served in FP-06 and FP-05 for certain EPAP areas and lengths of time may qualify for one grade higher. Please refer to the Qualification Standards for more information.

Training for Information Management Positions

AEFMs hired into EPAP positions in Information Management must successfully complete approximately six weeks of required online courses, within a specified timeframe. Certain training requirements may be waived if an AEFM demonstrates that he/she passed the vendor-specified tests related to that requirement. Applicants may contact IRM-EPAP@state.gov for more information.

Training for Other Positions

AEFMs hired into non-IM EPAP positions will benefit from Department of State-funded functional training, in most cases, at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). Additional details to be provided soon.


How to Apply

Positions

Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFMs) who would like to be considered for one or more positions must submit an application via the centralized USAJOBS vacancy announcement (April 15-28, 2019) or directly at post when/if an EPAP position is advertised separately. AEFMs may only submit applications for positions that are listed as available at their sponsor’s post of assignment.

Advertising cycles

2019 USAJobs Spring/Summer/early Fall Positions

Each of the regional bureaus, IRM and OBO have created a list of EPAP positions that are available now and/or that are expected to become available through September/October 2019. These positions were advertised via a vacancy announcement on USAJOBS.gov on April 15-28, 2019. Positions that are not filled through this announcement or that become available in fall/winter 2019 will be advertised at a later date by individual posts.

Below are the regional bureaus’ lists that were advertised April 15-28, 2019:

Each bureau can only fill up to the number of vacant positions allocated. However, more positions than the number actually available are advertised to give maximum flexibility to both applicants and bureaus in seeking good matches for the positions.

2019 Post-Advertised Positions

Positions that are not filled through the spring/summer/early fall USAJobs announcement or positions that become unfilled after the USAJobs vacancy closes, will be returned to the regional or functional bureau (IRM and OBO) for reassignment. Bureaus may advertise unfilled positions directly at post.

Applying on USAJOBS.gov

Step 1: Review Documents

Step 2: Get Informed About USAJOBS and Get Started

  • Create an account with USAJOBS using login.gov and create your resume using the USAJOBS resume builder.
  • Watch the webinar, Qualify on Paper, hosted by FLO’s Global Employment Initiative, which covers how to demonstrate qualifications on a federal resume whether applying for a job at post or on USAJobs.gov for an EPAP or other federal position.
  • Review Step-by-Step Guide to Complete an EPAP Application on USAJOBS.gov (Part I and Part II)

Step 3: Apply via the USAJobs.gov Vacancy Announcement (April 15 (12:01 a.m. E.T.) through April 28 (11:59 p.m. E.T.)

  • Click on the “apply online” button.
  • Follow the instructions and respond to all sets of questions:
    • Related to current or past federal employment.
    • Related to your eligibility and specific EPAP positions for which you are applying.
  • Attach your USAJOBS/federal resume.
  • Upload the required documents as listed in the checklist.
  • Review Step-by-Step Guide to Complete an EPAP Application on USAJobs.gov (Part I and Part II)

Notes

  • AEFMs may only apply for EPAP positions that will be available at the sponsoring employee’s post of assignment.
  • EPAP positions are full-time positions unless otherwise specified. As with all EFM appointments, availability may be a factor.
  • Specific positions can be viewed in the USAJOBS vacancy announcement after the applicant has confirmed the bureau to which the sponsor has been assigned. While the vacancy only list one grade (FP-07), the applicant’s grade will be determined by HR specialists based on the offered grade for each selected position(s) and based on the applicant’s ability to demonstrate s/he qualifies.
  • Applicant must verify that the required documents have been successfully attached to the USAJOBS application prior to the deadline. Please allow at least three to four hours to complete the application package. To avoid being affected by occasional USAJOBS system outages, applicants are encouraged not to wait until the deadline to submit.
  • No submissions will be accepted after the vacancy has closed.
Applying Directly at Post

Follow the vacancy announcement instructions and send your application package to the regional bureau as instructed in the vacancy announcement. See review process below, which remains the same regardless of how the EPAP vacancy is advertised.

Review Process

Whether EPAP positions are advertised via USAJobs.gov or at post, the required eligibility and qualification standards remain the same.

Step 1: After the vacancy announcement has closed, each EPAP application package will be reviewed by the appropriate regional bureau. The application package should include documents that prove eligibility and documents that establish qualification (see Checklist to determine which documents are required and which documents are optional). Each bureau will determine if the applicant meets the AEFM eligibility requirement and if the applicant has successfully documented his/her application to enable further qualification review.

Step1A: Applicants who fail to submit documents proving their AEFM eligibility or who submit an incomplete package will receive an automated response from USAJobs or a notification from the bureau.

Step 1B: Applicants whose application package provides the documents needed for their qualification review will be forwarded to:

  • Posts, or,
  • The appropriate functional bureau (for IRM, MED, OBO positions).

Step 2: After receiving the application package, post HR or IRM, OBO and MED HR will review the application and determine whether the applicant meets or exceeds the qualification standards.

Step 3: HR will conduct any required testing for all qualified applicants. Candidates who pass the required testing will be invited for an interview. Hiring preference is applied in the following order:

  1. AEFMs who are also preference-eligible U.S. Veterans; and
  2. AEFMs.

To ensure the hiring preference is applied correctly, a member of the Post Employment Committee (PEC) will attend all interviews. Generally, this is the CLO, unless he/she is a candidate for the position. The hiring supervisor will make the hiring decision. The PEC will review the decision, and if the decision is upheld, it will be sent for concurrence by the Front Office or designee.

Step 4: Post HR will then inform the bureau of the selection.

Step 5: The regional bureaus, in coordination with IRM, MED, OBO, where appropriate, make all final hiring and salary decisions and extend a conditional offer to the selected AEFM.

Candidates who were interviewed but not selected will receive from the regional bureau (or OBO HR, where appropriate) a non-selection letter.

Step 6: The EPAP candidate must respond to the conditional offer within the next three business days. Once an EPAP candidate accepts a conditional offer, post will initiate the required security clearance process and conduct an anti-nepotism review if relevant. See FSFRC section for applicants who are FSFRC members. Upon receipt of instructions, selected candidates must promptly complete and submit any required documents needed for their security clearance. When/if an interim clearance has been granted, the regional bureau will send an Authority to Hire cable to post and the selected candidate may begin work.

 


After Selection

Length of Service

Candidates generally serve up to the maximum of their sponsoring employee’s tour of duty, provided sufficient funding is available, and their supervisor documents their performance annually as fully successful or better. Per 3 FAM 7120, a Family Member Appointment cannot exceed 5 years.

Position Titles

Individuals in EPAP positions must be given and use only approved position titles:

  • EPAP Political Associate, EPAP Economic Associate, EPAP Management Associate, EPAP Public Diplomacy Associate, EPAP Facility Manager Associate, EPAP Financial Management Associate, EPAP Human Resources Associate, EPAP General Services Associate, EPAP Human Resources Associate, EPAP Financial Management Associate, EPAP General Services Associate , EPAP Information Management Associate, EPAP Office Management Associate.
  • Medical EPAP positions: EPAP Medical Laboratory Scientist/Medical Technologist; EPAP Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant; EPAP Registered Nurse; EPAP Physician and EPAP Psychiatrist.

Individuals in EPAP positions must not use the words “Foreign Service Officer” or “Foreign Service” or “Officer” or “Acting” or “Assistant” in their position titles.

Position Accreditation

While EPAP incumbents have responsibilities that are similar to entry-level Foreign Service Generalist or Specialist employees, unless they are separately accredited, family members do not have the same status as U.S. Foreign Service employees. Rather, such family members have derivative privileges and immunities deriving from the sponsoring employee’s status. Such status imposes a de facto limitation on what family members may do on the job and how they represent post.

Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC)

At this time, AEFMs are not required to be members of the FSFRC in order to apply for EPAP positions. For additional information, visit the FSFRC webpage.

Security Clearance Requirements

EPAP applicants do not need to hold a valid security clearance at the time of application; however, selected candidates are required to obtain the appropriate security clearance for the position before they can begin their appointment. The post HRO or the regional bureau will initiate the clearance process with Diplomatic Security and will require prompt cooperation and input from the candidate. If the candidate does not complete the eQIP documentation within 10 business days of being notified to do so, the regional bureau may rescind the offer of employment. The candidate may not start work until he/she receives a minimum of an interim security clearance consistent with guidance from HR Overseas Employment and post.

Hiring Mechanism

Individuals hired into EPAP positions are employed on a Family Member Appointment (FMA). The regulations governing FMAs in 3 FAM 8200.

Qualifying and Hiring Grades for EPAP positions

Single grade versus multiple grade positions:

Position grades range from FP-07 to FP-01. EPAP applicants need to check the advertised list of positions and corresponding grade(s) at which they are offered.

Positions advertised at a single grade level may only offer a starting salary and steps within the advertised grade. Positions advertised with more than one possible grade will offer a starting salary based on the determination at which the candidate [applied for and] is found qualified.

Determining the qualifying/hiring grade:

The regional bureau will determine the grade at which post’s selected candidate(s) qualifies. Such determination will be based on:

  • The grade(s) at which the position is advertised and,
  • The applicant’s education and experience required for each position grade as listed in the qualification standards.

When the applicant meets the minimum requirements (combination of education and experience) as listed in the qualification standards, the regional bureau will extend a conditional offer of employment at Step 1 of the position’s advertised grade for which the applicant qualifies.

Determining additional steps within the Qualifying/Hiring Grade:

1. Qualification Standards and grade range:  

Within the grade for which they qualify, EPAP candidates will be appointed minimally at Step 1, but they will receive one additional step for each full year of professional or specialized experience (specific to the position for which the candidate applied) that exceeds the minimum requirement as listed in the Qualification Standards.

Please note that since EPAP integrates a salary review with the complete review of education and experience while offering the highest matching grade and step to qualified applicants, Superior Qualification Rate (SQR) may not be added.

2. Highest Previous Rate (HPR):

Per 3 FAM 8216.2 and per HR/OE’s Policy on Pay Settings for AEFMs and EFMs (as of 08-23-2018), AEFMs may be appointed at higher than Step 1 of the grade of the position based on the HPR earned on a prior federal government appointment. HPR is based on the highest grade and step previously earned while on a full-time or part-time appointment for a continuous period (without a break in service) of at least 90 calendar days. In no circumstances may the starting salary exceed Step 14 of the position’s grade. If post HRO determines that a candidate is eligible for HPR, post HRO’s will submit to the regional bureau the candidate’s initial and final Notification of Personnel Action SF-50.

In situations where both HPR and additional steps for professional or specialized experience may be applicable, the regional bureau’s HR specialist will determine whichever method grants the highest step. The starting salary may not exceed Step 14 of the qualifying grade and the applicant may not receive a higher hiring grade than their qualifying grade.

Conditional Offer of Employment:

Once the regional bureau’s HR specialist has made the final determination of the applicant’s grade and step (through application of HPR or though determination of additional steps per year of experience, as appropriate), the regional bureau will extend to the applicant a conditional offer confirming the qualifying/hiring grade with a starting salary.

Such offer is final and the applicant is requested to respond to the offer within three business days of receipt otherwise the bureau will rescind the offer.

Benefits

Individuals hired will accrue leave at a rate based on their length of service. They are also able to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program, and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). They also earn Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) after 52 weeks of service overseas.

Allowances

Individuals hired are eligible to receive danger pay, if applicable. However, no other payments are authorized (e.g., cost of living allowance, post differential, temporary lodging, living quarters, transfer, home service transfer, education, separate maintenance allowance, advance of pay, home leave, Rest and Recuperation). No other entitlements may be granted (e.g., shipment of HHE, UAB) other than those already granted to the sponsoring employee.

Those hired into positions at unaccompanied posts must be included on their sponsoring employee’s travel orders.

Employee Performance Reports

Individuals hired into EPAP positions should receive performance evaluations for the period March 15 to March 14 each year (rather than based on entry-on-duty dates) using the Employee Performance Report (EPR) (Form JF-57).

Administrative Promotions

Those employed in Political, Economic, Management, and Public Diplomacy areas may receive an administrative promotion from FP-06 to FP-05 after 12 months of fully successful or better performance, and an administrative promotion from FP-05 to FP-04 after an additional 18 months of fully successful or better performance.

Following the implementation of the 2019 qualification standards:

  • those hired in Information Management positions under the 2019 cycle may receive an administrative promotion from FP-06 to FP-05 after 12 months of fully successful or better performance, completion of the required training requirements and upon confirmation from the functional bureau, IRM.
  • those employed in Human Resources, General Services, and Financial Management areas under the 2019 cycle may receive an administrative promotion from FP-05 to FP-04 after 18 months of fully successful or better performance.
  • those employed in Office Management area under the 2019 cycle may receive an administrative promotion from FP-07 to FP-06 after 12 months of fully successful or better performance.

Completion of the time-in-grade requirements does not automatically convey the right to a conversion/promotion. The grade conversion may be effective only after:

  • the most recent regular or interim performance appraisal (JF-57 EPR Employee Performance Report) has a summary rating of fully successful or better and
  • the supervisor has determined that the employee has the ability to perform at a higher grade with more responsibilities.

The grade conversion is not an entitlement and the supervisor may determine that the employee is not ready to perform at the next level. The request for the new grade must be made by the employee’s supervisor through a memo sent from post HR to the regional bureau’s EPAP coordinator certifying that the employee is ready to perform at the next grade level. EPAP applicants are reminded that they are responsible for seeking their supervisor’s review for administrative promotion. They should initiate this conversation at least one month prior to their anniversary date as promotions will not be automatically granted or retroactively applied.

U.S. Department of State

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