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Minneapolis VA Health Care System Research Service

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Onboarding: Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Employment

The MVAHCS Research Service onboarding process is informed by VA hiring practices and rules governing eligibility for Federal employment. Currently, four onboarding options exist for personnel engaged in research activities at the Minneapolis VA: VA paid employment, Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) employment (this page), Without Compensation (WOC) employment, and Contract employment. Because Contract employment is rarely used, we refer you to the Research Service Onboarding Policy for details on this mechanism.

Each onboarding option falls under different rules in terms of eligibility, allowed funding source, and timeline for hire. All onboarding mechanisms require prospective employee to complete all required training and to be added to all affected study protocols, subject to approval from subcommittee of record, prior to initiating any research activities.

The outline below provides an overview of IPA appointments. Prior to initiating an onboarding action, PI should consult the information here and on the other onboarding pages, and determine whether the prospective employee will meet all necessary requirements. The PI should also consider the estimated timelines for each onboarding option. For questions regarding this process, PI should contact the Research Administrative Officer (AO).

IPA appointments

The IPA mechanism allows VA to “borrow” an employee from another institution for a limited period of time. The prospective employee must be a permanent/career status employee of an institution able to enter into an IPA agreement with the VA, such as the VA NPC or academic affiliate, and must pass a background check. The prospective employee must have been in their current (paid) position for a minimum of 90 days to be eligible. Please note: Students (including graduate students) are not considered permanent employees and are not eligible for IPA regardless of tenure. Non-citizens may be eligible for IPA provided they meet employment requirements, have a valid visa status allowing employment, and pass background check. The PI must have VA funds available. Indirect costs are not allowed on an IPA agreement. A valid, current PD must be available or be created for the position. The prospective employee must provide verification of their education. IPA positions are capped at a maximum of 4 years, after which the employee must wait a minimum of 1 year before again becoming eligible for IPA. IPA agreements can be cancelled at any time, by either the lending or borrowing institution, with a minimum 30 day notice. Onboarding timeline is 2-4 months, provided a suitable PD is already available; creating a new PD can add 4-6 months or more to the hiring timeline.

IPA may only be used for current employees of the academic affiliate or VA NPC. If a PI wishes to use an IPA to hire an individual who is not a current employee, the 90 day employment minimum means the PI must have sufficient funds at the external organization to pay the employee’s salary for this 90 day period prior to implementing the IPA. A WOC appointment will be required for any work on VA projects during this initial 90 day period. All eligibility requirements for WOC employees will apply during this timeframe.