VSEE policy information is contained in the NSF
Personnel Manual, PER Chapter II-400 and the NSF
Act (pages 9-10).
Individuals appointed to the VSEE program are on a non-paid leave
of absence from their institution. NSF pays salary while benefits
are maintained with the home institution. An appointee must
be a U.S. citizen or citizen of a country which has a mutual security
agreement with the U.S. The Division of Human Resource Management
(HRM) will determine eligibility for non-citizens.
Length of Appointment
Appointments are usually made for up to one year and may be extended
for an additional year by mutual agreement between NSF, the home
institution, and the VSEE.
Salary is set within a range for "Administratively
Determined (AD)" level positions, using pre-established criteria.
HRM determines the initial salary after verification is received
from the home institution. The NSF salary is comprised of the annualized
academic salary, cost of living allowance (if applicable), lost
consulting (if applicable), and a locality payment. VSEEs are not
eligible to receive the annual government-wide comparability pay
adjustments, however, when salary is increased at the home institution,
the NSF salary will be adjusted accordingly.
NSF may provide compensation for lost consulting income. Payments,
which are administered by NSF, are based on an average of the consulting
income during the last two years (supported by tax records). No
consulting may be conducted if payment is received for lost consulting
activities. This income is included as part of the NSF base pay
and will be reflected on W-2 forms. Any decision to continue consulting
activities while at NSF MUST be discussed with an Ethics
Counselor in the NSF's Office of the General Counsel.
A VSEE may be entitled to receive a per diem allowance or a round-trip
movement of household goods. The annual per diem rate is established
and paid by NSF based on Federal Travel Regulations. The maximum
period for receiving per diem is two years. Per diem will typically
be paid each pay period in an amount prorated over the term of the
appointment, however per diem may be paid in a yearly lump sum instead,
if requested by the VSEE. Since all per diem payments are reported
to the IRS on W2 forms, VSEEs are encouraged to consult a tax advisor
and carefully consider the tax implications before requesting lump
A VSEE may be entitled to receive a round-trip
movement of household goods in lieu of a per diem allowance.
If the basic salary calculation is below the minimum rate of pay
for the Federal position, the salary is raised to the minimum Federal
rate of pay for that position. This income is included as part of
the NSF base pay which will be reflected on W-2 forms.
VSEEs are not eligible for Federal benefits. Current legislation
authorizes NSF to reimburse the home institution for the employer's
share of retirement, life insurance, and health benefits. Some state
laws may not allow for this arrangement. We recommend that candidates
meet with a benefits counselor at the home institution to discuss
the effect of being in a non-paid leave status. NSF cannot withhold
the employee's contributions to benefits, therefore, tax-sheltered
savings plans cannot continue while at NSF. Social Security deductions
are withheld from the NSF salary.
VSEEs are responsible for adhering to the policies and procedures
governing the administration of leave for Federal employees as
in the NSF
Personnel Manual, Chapter VIII-300, Absence and Leave.
The IRS has ruled that appointments away from the VSEE's permanent
home for more than one year are considered to be indefinite and
living expenses are no longer deductible. NSF recommends that tax
implications be discussed with a CPA or other tax advisor. For information
on travel expenses, see Tax Treatment
of Travel Expenses Incurred by NSF Rotators.
Independent Research/Development (IR/D) Program
Research/Development (IR/D) Program permits individuals with
approved IR/D plans, serving on VSEE appointments, to maintain their
involvement with their professional research.