LQA for GS Local Hire (I know)

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Hi all! I just retired this May via European Separation, maintaining my unused travel and HHG goods shipment entitlements. I was immediately provided Logistical and SOFA status via AAFES while I awaited the 180 days of cool down. Here is my inquiry-


I am in the onboarding process for a GS-11 position as a local hire, taking in consideration the above what are my chances of receiving LQA? As I read in the AER and DSSR I am eligible.


There is so much misinformation out there, even the personnel making final LQA decisions seem to interpret the regs as they see fit. I have heard of people being denied because they worked for AAFES during the 180 waiting  perio or being told they worked as a contractor due to AAFES employment. Last I recall AAFES is NAF. 


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Congratulations on your retirement!  Were you military or civilian?


You are correct about the amount of misinformation that seems to prevail.  You are also correct about AAFES being a non-appropriated funds (NAF) organization, as is MWR.  While some MWR personnel receive LQA, I don't know of any AAFES personnel who receive it.


Unless you are in a very difficult position to fill, it is unlikely that you will be approved for LQA and will be considered a "local hire".  This also means you will not receive post allowance and your maximum annual leave accrual will be 240 hours instead of 360 hours.  The rationale for the determination is you were already working in the country and not receiving housing, so there is no reason to entice you to accept the GS position.


This is water under the bridge, but you should have talked to someone in the LQA cell that supports your area before you retired.  I am confident that you would have been told what to expect with different employment options following your retirement.  I have two friends who retired years ago from the military and were waiting on the temporary overhire positions to be approved so they could transition into the GG workforce.  One listened to my advice and the other didn't.  The one who listened sat at home on tourist status while the other got a part-time job with AAFES so he could retain his SOFA privileges.  The positions were approved about 45 days later and both were hired.  The one who sat at home received LQA, post allowance, and the 360 hours of leave accrual.  The other was denied LQA, and about six months later decided to use his transportation agreement and return to CONUS.


Contrary to popular belief, LQA and post allowance are not entitlements.  They are enticements to recruit employees from CONUS to fill OCONUS vacancies.  In order to qualify for LQA as a federal employee, you must demonstrate an unbroken chain of employment with LQA or housing, and a return agreement to CONUS.  When you accepted the position with AAFES, or any employment that does not provide housing and repatriation to CONUS, you broke the LQA chain.


It is possible to accept post retirement employment as a contractor and still qualify for LQA when entering the federal service.  However, there can be only one contract employment between retirement and federal service, and the contract job must provide housing AND language in the offer letter that specifically states repatriation to CONUS at the end of the performance.  If the offer letter merely states the employee will be repatriated or will be authorized a fixed amount for relocation, then the language for the LQA approval has not been met.


However, all is not lost in the long term and there is one scenario in which you could eventually receive LQA.  If, at some point in your OCONUS federal employment, you receive a Management Directed Reassignment (MDR) to a duty station at least 50 miles from your current duty station, then you will be authorized to receive LQA at the new post of assignment.  The down side is you actually have to relocate your residence to the new duty location.  The MDR process was widely used during the base closures in Germany.  Personnel who lived and worked in Heidelberg without LQA were able to receive it when their position moved to Wiesbaden and they moved with it.  Those who remained living in Heidelberg and commuted to Wiesbaden did not receive LQA because they did not satisfy the second requirement of the MDR regulation.


I wish you the best in your retirement and future employment.




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