Federal Manager's Daily Report

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OPM has told agencies to report on their calendar year 2019 use of student loan reimbursements, one authority agencies can use to attract and keep employees in high-demand occupations.

Under the program, an agency can pay an employee up to $10,000 a year and up to $60,000 lifetime to be used pay off certain types of student loans. OPM wants information by March 31 including the numbers of recipients, their occupations, and amounts paid.

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“We also invite you to share any additional information regarding best practices, lessons learned, program effectiveness, or metrics used to measure program success. We would also appreciate your input on how agencies can best establish and justify each business case, as well as how to address and resolve program impediments. Your agency may provide relevant details about your agency’s use of the student loan repayment authority as an effective recruitment or retention tool,” a memo said. Agencies that didn’t use the authority are to explain why not, and whether they have a policy in place that would allow its use or are planning to have one.

The most recently issued report, covering 2017, showed that 34 agencies paid such incentives to 10,200 employees totaling nearly $75 million. That was up by 3.4 and 4.6 percent over the prior year but still below the levels of 2010, after which agencies started cutting back for budgetary reasons. The figures have been rising since 2013.

DoD, Justice, State, SEC, HHS and VA account for about three-fourths of the payments. By occupation, payments are concentrated in engineering, contracting, medical fields, special agents, foreign affairs, attorney-advisers, accounting, HR, health science and various types of analysts.

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