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Additional Resources and Policies

In addition to the pay and benefits packages outlined earlier, the USDA offers many important resources and programs to help and support our employees. This page provides information on these programs and resources. And remember, if you ever need help or have a question, don’t hesitate to contact your HR Specialist and/or Supervisor.

Merit System Principles

The Merit System Principles are nine basic standards governing the management of the executive branch workforce.

Prohibited Personnel Practices

There are thirteen prohibited personnel practices, including reprisal for whistleblowing, which are defined by law at 2302(b) of title 5 of the United States Code (U.S.C.). A personnel action (defined in 5 U.S.C. 2302(a)(2(A) to include appointments, promotions, reassignments, disciplinary actions, and other personnel matters) may need to be involved for a prohibited personnel practice to occur.

Reasonable Accommodation Process

The USDA provides reasonable accommodation for qualified employees and applicants with disabilities adhering to applicable Federal regulations and guidelines. We provide reasonable accommodation for the known physical or mental limitations of qualified employees and applicants with disabilities when those disabilities or limitations are properly documented and when they meet Federal regulatory requirements. If you believe you have a qualifying disability or limitation, you should first notify your supervisor. When referred to your Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator you may be asked to complete the Confirmation of Reasonable Accommodation Request form. As soon as you have completed the form and the required documents (such as a letter from your health care provider), you should give the form and documents to your Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator. For additional contact information you can download the list of managers.



The USDA TARGET Center’s mission is to ensure that all USDA employees have safe and equal access to electronic and information technology by assessing, educating, and advocating for the integration of assistive technology and worksite accommodations. For more information visit the TARGET Center website.


Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

The Employee Assistance Program provides free, confidential services for employees and family members who are living in their home or who are covered by the employee’s health insurance plan. The EAP offers services in the following areas:

  • Counseling Services: short-term assessment and referral to community resources based on client needs (emotional, alcohol, drugs, etc.).
  • Financial and Legal Services: free consultation with financial experts and licensed attorneys to provide assistance with legal and financial questions.
  • Management Consultation: assistance for managers and supervisors when responding to a troubled employee.
  • Critical Incident Response: counselors to assist in managing traumatic situations such as threats, acts of violence, natural disasters, injury or death.
  • Education and Training: training programs to support both supervisors and employees on the benefits and functions of the EAP.

Records and conversations between counselors and employees are private in accordance with both state and Federal laws.


Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Process

To learn how the EEO process works, visit the Civil Rights website.


Key Links

Here are a few web links to important information you may find helpful during your USDA career. Some may require you to have an eAuthentication to access.

USDA does not endorse either of these publications. The links are provided here because these publications cover Federal employee issues and you may find these as useful sources in keeping current on various Federal topics.

On The Job Injury

If you are injured in the performance of your official duties, the Federal Workers' Compensation Program may provide coverage, including medical expenses and some of your lost salary. If you are injured, notify your supervisor as soon as you can.



Your safety is of paramount concern. We recommend you review the safety information for non-supervisors and supervisors. There is an extensive amount of information for supervisors  that deal with training required for individuals involved in all types of work. If you locate the type of work you supervise, you can then determine the appropriate training required for your employees.


Occupant Emergency Plan

Every employee needs to know what to do in case of a fire or other building emergency. Please familiarize yourself with your Agency’s plan. You should review this document by the end of your first workday.



Links to these mapping sites may be helpful for you to find your way to work.

USDA eAuthentication

USDA eAuthentication is the system used by USDA Agencies that allows employees to access USDA web applications and services via the Internet. This includes submitting forms electronically, completing surveys online and checking the status of your pay records. Once Human Resources processes your record (normally during your first work week), you will get an e-mail that will outline how you obtain your “eAuth” account. You will need this account to access your pay records, your personnel records and your time and attendance records. So as soon as you receive your e-mail, respond to it.


Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA)

Under Federal law, most records are releasable to the public. The Freedom of Information Act is included in 5 USC 552. FOIA requests must be processed in a certain way in a certain time frame. Read more about FOIA on USDA's FOIA site.



It is important for new employees to understand that the Federal Government has strict rules about how we purchase supplies, materials and services and how we work with contractors who may be located in your work section. Simply put, only authorized personnel (contracting officers, contract specialists, and approved purchase card holders) can purchase items for the government. When dealing with co-workers who may be contractors, be sure you understand what the contractor is responsible for doing and not doing. Only a contracting officer or contracting specialist can change the work a contractor is required to do. If you are working with a contractor, check with the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative or Contracting Officer’s Representative (your supervisor can direct you to this person) to see what the contractor is required to do.


Records Management

All USDA personnel are required by the Federal Records Act of 1950 to properly manage their official records. Employees are required to complete the Records Management Requirements Course in AgLearn within the first 90 days of employment at USDA. Employees have the following obligations regarding Federal records:

  • Create necessary records to do the business of their Agency; record decisions and actions taken and document activities for which they are responsible.
  • Take care of records so that information can be found when needed. This means setting up good directories, files and filing materials (in whatever format) regularly and carefully in a manner that allows them to be safely stored and efficiently retrieved when necessary.
  • Carry out the disposition of records under their control in accordance with Agency records schedules and Federal regulations.

Title 44 U.S.C. 2901 defines record management and Title 18 U.S.C. establishes criminal penalties for the unlawful concealment, removal or destruction of Federal records. The USDA Chief Information Officer oversees the records management program to ensure that policies and procedures are implemented and provides leadership and direction for the Department’s records management program. For assistance with your records management responsibilities or the Department’s records management procedures, please contact your Agency Records Officer. View a complete list of Agency Records Officers.

The records management policies are located on the Directive Management Web Site.

Additional guidance can also be found in the USDA’s Records Management Web Site.


Weapons Prohibition

Federal law prohibits the possession of firearms or other dangerous weapons in Federal facilities unless you are authorized (for example, law enforcement officers). If you are caught with a dangerous weapon on Federal property (which includes leased office space), you are subject to fine and/or imprisonment for periods up to five (5) years.


Recording Devices

USDA employees generally are not permitted to intercept (record) telephone or non-telephone conversations by recorders or digital recorders. Departmental Regulation 1710-001, Interception and Monitoring of Telephone and Non-telephone Conversations (February 6, 1984) sets out the limited circumstances in which consensual monitoring of conversations is permitted. See also Departmental Regulation 3300-1, Appendix B, Telephone Use (March 23, 1999). However, if you believe you have a reason to record another person’s conversation, even if you are a participant in that conversation, you should first contact the Office of General Counsel at 202-720-5565 for assistance.


Special USDA Programs

The USDA sponsors many special programs. We’d like to highlight two:

  • People’s Garden: This USDA initiative challenges its employees to establish People’s Gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens. People’s Gardens vary in size and type, but all have a common purpose – to help the community they’re in and the environment as a whole.
  • Farmers Market: In addition to the Friday farmer’s market at the Whitten Building in DC during the summer, you may find similar events throughout USDA. You should check with your supervisor if you are interested.