- USDA, Marketing and Regulatory Programs are authorized to recruit, train, and accept volunteer services in carrying out programs of the Agency.
- Volunteer opportunities are open to all interested persons without regard to race, color, religion, age (except as provided by OPM and DOL regulations), sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or any other non-merit factor.
- Volunteer service may not displace any employee nor may it be used to staff a position that is a normal part of the work force.
- Volunteer program participants may not receive salary payments, but regular (non-student) volunteers may receive payment of incidental expenses in accordance with USDA authorization 7 U.S.C. 2272a.
- Volunteer contributions may be recognized with letters of appreciation, certificates of accomplishments, or other forms of non-monetary recognition. Management officials must adhere to all applicable MRP and USDA policy governing use of non-monetary recognition.
- Student volunteer service must comply with Department of Labor regulations, which place restrictions on the employment of individuals under the age of 18 years.
- Student volunteer service must comply with Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations governing student volunteers.
- Initial volunteer terms of assignments may be approved up to a year in duration. The volunteer assignment may be extended beyond the initial term for one additional year.
- Services of a volunteer program participant may be terminated at any time for any reason deemed appropriate by either party.
- In accord with USDA policy, the minimum age to serve as a volunteer with MRP is 14. Employment certificates or work permits required by state or local authorities must be obtained before the volunteer may begin the volunteer assignment. For information on employment certification/work permits specific to each state visit the DOL Wage and Hour Division website.
Volunteers are not appointed to a federal position and are not considered Federal employees; therefore, U.S. citizenship is not required. However, individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents must have been lawfully admitted to the United States and may volunteer with proper authorization to work in the United States. For information on U.S. immigration laws and U.S. citizenship, go to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
- Individuals who volunteer with MRP most likely will be subject to background investigative requirements depending upon the nature of the assignment, and the extent of access the individual may need to the facility, systems, equipment, etc. in order to perform the task involved in the assignment.
- Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) mandates that all Government agencies maintain specific and consistent standards for physical and personnel identification systems. Volunteers may need a LincPass or site badge to access USDA systems and or facilities as dictated by procedure described in DM 4620-002. Contact the HRO Personnel Security staff for assistance with the volunteer service program security procedure.
Motor Vehicle Operation
Volunteers may only use a Government-owned Vehicle (GOV) under supervisory direction on specific tasks to conduct official business in support of the MRP mission in accordance with MRP 5400 - Marketing and Regulatory Programs Motor Vehicle Manual (Employees Only). Although there is no exclusion of volunteers from operating GOVs, authorization shall be reserved to those occasions when no other practical option exists. All drivers are required to be in the drug free workplace program. There should be no drivers under the age of 18. The supervisor will ensure Chapter 3 (WHO MAY OPERATE GOVERNMENT MOTOR VEHICLES) of the Fleet Manual is followed and all training is documented, qualifications/licenses are validated as appropriate, and ensure that the volunteer knows the GSA, USDA, and MRP requirements and procedures for the Official use of a GOV per Chapter 1 (OFFICIAL USE OF MRP MOTOR VEHICLES) of the Fleet Manual.
Since the Agency will be responsible for any mishap that may occur while volunteers are performing their duties, prudent use of this authority is required.
In accordance with MRP 5400 – Marketing and Regulatory Programs Motor Vehicle Manual, Chapter 1, paragraph 4, individuals who must ride in the GOV to conduct official business in support of MRP mission may do so under supervisory authorization.
- Public notice of volunteer opportunities is not required. Supervisors who wish to advertise a volunteer opportunity should contact the Human Resources Division, Volunteer Service Program Coordinator (VSPC) for assistance.