WASHINGTON – The Defense Department wants to clarify a personnel policy — generally known as the “five-year rule” — that establishes time limits for civilian overseas assignments, an official said here today.
Sheila Dent, the department’s acting director of human resources for operational programs and advisory services, spoke to the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service about the thinking behind DOD Instruction Number 1400.25, Volume 1230, which took effect in July.
“What we’ve done is taken several different policy documents and consolidated them into one regulation,” she said. “The basic policy remains the same as it was … but now we only have to go to one place.”
Since the new policy was published, she said, her office has offered a lot of advice to “folks wanting to make sure that they understand what the provisions are.”
The five-year rule has been in effect in some form since 1960, Dent noted. The policy establishes time limits for overseas assignments, and sets conditions for re-employment “return rights” when civilian workers return from overseas assignments.
The policy, she said, states that, “If an employee takes an assignment to an overseas post, then they have a job to return to in the states, but that the typical rotation period shouldn’t exceed five years.”
There is a provision for overseas employees to remain after five years, but only in two-year increments, officials said. Dent explained the new instruction offers components — the Army, Navy, Air Force and DOD agencies – some flexibility in setting approval authority for such extensions.
There is no cap on the number of extensions an employee can receive, she said, but under the policy components can set approval authority at any level within the component.