In an effort to attract more-qualified applicants, U.S. Army Europe has revised rules concerning civilian Living Quarters Allowance for appropriated-fund employees.

The changes, which took effect this week, increase the number of employees eligible for a housing stipend. Overseeing the revisions is the Civilian Human Resources Management Agency.

Revising the rules is “a great incentive tool to hiring really good employees,” said Christiana Hudson, the agency’s marketing consultant.

Before 1998, State and Defense department employees who met a set of standardized regulations qualified for a housing allowance. Such a stipend could easily top $15,000 or $20,000 a year, depending on location and family size.

USAREUR tightened the restrictions five years ago, making fewer people eligible, Hudson said. She encourages people hired since June 1998 to review the new conditions to determine if they now qualify.

Following is a brief overview of the revisions, according to Hudson. They:

• Permit LQA to locally separated military personnel and contractors who meet the Department of State Standardized Regulations and are appointed to GS-09 positions and above, or their equivalent. This means a servicemember or contractor hired into the federal system at those grades could be eligible for LQA.

• Exempt employees on mandatory mobility agreements from the one-year residency requirement for U.S. hires. This is a specific exemption that applies mainly to Senior Executive Service positions or the intern program, under which employees sign a mobility agreement that means they move as management decides.

• Exempt applicants selected for Career Program positions from grade restrictions. This program has special positions and employees are hired into it and placed on a “career path.” Most, but not all, positions are GS-09 or above. This exemption lifts grade restrictions on those in the program.

• Authorizes continued LQA to employees voluntarily leaving hard-to-fill positions to accept other positions. A hard-to-fill position is one that either turns over often, or is difficult to fill when vacant. Prior to this change, those who voluntarily left such a post for a regular position lost LQA.

Further details are on the CHRMA Web site:

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