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Minneapolis VA Health Care System Research Service

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New Investigator Orientation: Hiring Personnel

Investigator Orientation: Overview | Required Information | Research Approval | Investigator Responsibilities | Research Funding | Hiring Personnel

This page is intended to provide a broad overview to help investigators determine the steps involved in onboarding staff to assist with funded research. Detailed instructions, references, and relevant policy are linked in the "Employment and Onboarding" section of the navigation menu to the left, and are also linked within each topic below.

In general, personnel may be brought on to your research projects in four ways. Onboarding personnel can be difficult, especially for part-time employees or non-citizens. You should keep in mind that VA hiring actions are not rapid. For specific details, refer to the Research Service Onboarding Policy. Pay close attention to the timelines listed in this document, and plan ahead.

Direct hire as VA employees

Research personnel paid from grant funds are generally hired as temporary/term employees. For scientific hires, it may be possible to use a direct hiring authority to name a specific candidate. While direct VA hires are the most straightforward from a finance standpoint, the onboarding timeline for such hires is the longest, citizenship rules apply, and part-time hires can be difficult to arrange.

For more information, see VA employee onboarding.

Without Compensation (WOC) Appointment

Research WOCs are not paid by VA. Typically, a WOC will be personnel paid directly by CVRE or the affiliate university. Because WOCs are considered to be VA employees, citizenship rules for VA hires are applicable. WOC appointments must be renewed annually.

For more information, see WOC onboarding.

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA)

Personnel hired via IPA are employees "borrowed" from an eligible lending entity, such as CVRE or an academic institution. This mechanism is desirable as the individual remains employed by the lending institution, providing continuity of benefits, and is affordable in grant budgets as the IPA agreement cannot include overhead costs. Personnel hired via IPA must have been employed by the lending institution for a minimum of 90 days. IPA appointments are limited to four years.

For more information, see IPA onboarding.

Contracts for personnel or services

Contracts for personnel are possible but in practice are rarely used, as unlike IPA hires, contracted personnel may include overhead costs, making this option less affordable from grant budgets. Contracts for services are more common.


Assistance with onboarding differs depending on which institution administers the award. For grants administered by VA, contact the Research AO for guidance in onboarding personnel. The AO is also your primary human resources contact when dealing with performance, conduct, or labor relations issues with staff hired as VA employees. For grants administered through CVRE or the University of Minnesota, contact the applicable institution for assistance.