The area of consideration (AOC) is the organizational and geographical boundary in which an intensive search is made for candidates who are required to compete under the Merit Promotion Plan. The minimum AOC means the area in which the agency should expect to find enough high quality candidates, (i.e., sufficiently broad to ensure the availability of a diverse pool of highly qualified candidates) to be considered to fill positions covered by the Merit Promotion Plan. Refer to MRP Directive 4335.1, Merit Promotion Plan, for examples of possible AOC’s.
What if a Candidate is Outside the AOC?
Applicants who are not required to compete under this Plan will be referred, regardless of their agency or location. Non-competitive applicants, persons with disabilities, and veterans who are 30% or more disabled may not be screened out just because they are outside of the AOC. CTAP must be cleared, as appropriate, before any selections are made.
What if We Don’t Get Enough Candidates?
If the established minimum AOC does not produce enough high quality candidates, the minimum area may be expanded. A representative from the servicing personnel office will be able to discuss this option with the selecting official. In considering expanding the AOC, the selecting official should be aware that other factors may have to be considered, such as: Career Transition Assistance Program, payment of relocation expenses, etc.
Remember, you also can consider candidates from other sources, such as special hiring authorities, reassignment eligibles, OPM Certificates, etc. Discuss your options with your staffing specialist.
When Must Relocation Expenses Be Paid?
In a selection under merit promotion, in most instances, the agency must pay relocation expenses. This is in accordance with decisions of the Comptroller General and policy established by the USDA in Department Personnel Manual, Chapter 335. Generally speaking, exceptions to this requirement are:
A nonpayment provision in a negotiated union agreement, or
Movement of an employee for the employee’s personal reasons.