Forest Service Manual national headquarters (wo) Washington, dc

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Forest Service Manual

national headquarters (wo)

Washington, DC

FSM 1800 - volunteers and service
chapteR 1830 - volunteers and service programs
Amendment No.: 1800-2014-4
Effective Date: December 4, 2014
Duration: This amendment is effective until superseded or removed.


Acting Associate Deputy Chief, NFS

Date Approved: 12/02/2014

Posting Instructions: Amendments are numbered consecutively by title and calendar year. Post by document; remove the entire document and replace it with this amendment. Retain this transmittal as the first page(s) of this document. The last amendment to this title was
1800-2014-3 to FSM 1810.

New Document


23 Pages

Superseded Document(s) by Issuance Number and Effective Date


(Amendment 1800-2011-2, 02/08/2011)

18 Pages

1830 - Changes caption from “Senior, Youth, and Volunteer Programs” to “Volunteers and Service Programs” and sets forth direction.
1835.2 - Changes requirement for Volunteer Interagency Pass from 500 hours to 250 hours. Changes “1000 Hour Chief’s Award” form to “Volunteer Certificate of Achievement”.
Table of Contents

1830.1 - Authority 3

1830.2 - Objectives 3

1830.3 - Policy 3

1830.4 - Responsibility 4

1830.41 - Washington Office, Director, Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources 4

1830.42 - Washington Office Staff Directors 4

1830.43 - Regional Foresters, Station Directors, and Area Director 4

1830.5 - Definitions 4

1830.6 - Program Administration 5


1831.1 - Volunteer Recruitment Rosters 7

1831.2 - Inclusion of Diverse Populations 7


1832.1 - Applicants 8

1832.11 - Qualifications 8

1832.12 - Federal Employee Volunteers 8

1832.2 - Group Volunteers 9


1833.1 - Coverage of Volunteers for Injury Compensation and Tort Liability 10

1833.11 - Use of Volunteer Agreements and Challenge Cost Share Agreements 10

1833.12 - Use of Volunteer Stock and Equipment 11

1833.13 - Volunteers Using Firearms 12

1833.14 - Volunteers as Collection Officers 12

1833.2 - Service Schedules 12

1833.3 - Travel and Operation of Motor Vehicles 12

1833.4 - Uniforms, Costumes, Identification 13

1833.5 - Incidental Expenses 13


1834.1 - Performance 20

1834.2 - Orientation, Training and Safety 20

1834.3 - Volunteers Requiring Access to Forest Service Computers and Buildings 21

1834.4 - Drug Testing of Volunteers 21

1834.5 - Termination of Agreements 21

1834.6 - Records 22


1835.1 - Status of Volunteers 22

1835.2 - Recognition of Service 24

1835.3 - Credit for Service 25


The Volunteer program of the USDA Forest Service provides opportunities for citizen stewardship of national forests, grasslands, and prairies, involvement in and contributions to research, conservation of cultural and heritage resources, engagement in cooperative forestry, and support of the public lands legacy of the United States.

1830.1 - Authority

This program is authorized by the Volunteers in the National Forests Act of 1972, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 558a-558d.

Department Regulation 4230-1 established guidelines for acceptance of volunteer services and requires agencies to publish their own guidelines.

1830.2 - Objectives

The mission of the Volunteer program is to inspire and engage volunteers to conserve our nation’s natural and cultural resources and ensure the sustainability of the public lands legacy. The mission is achieved by focusing on the following objectives:

1. Recruit, train, and engage the services of volunteers to complement regular Forest Service staff in interpretive functions, visitor services, conservation, restoration, and preservation measures, trails and recreation facilities maintenance, and other activities in or related to areas administered by the Secretary of Agriculture through the Forest Service.

2. Promote planning, coordination and implementation that will assure the volunteer an experience that is personally rewarding and provides for their safety and well-being.

3. Provide a customer centric and collaborative emphasis on volunteer partnerships, outreach and engagement.

1830.3 - Policy

In carrying out its mission, the Forest Service will make maximum use of the volunteer authority granted, advance diversity goals through partnerships with volunteers, and increase public awareness of equal opportunity benefits and services.

Forest Service units should develop outreach programs which encourage the enrollment of any currently under represented population. All aspects of such programs must comply with the Volunteers in the National Forests Act as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, as amended.
Volunteers may assist in all Forest Service programs or activities except actual performance of law enforcement, or as Union Officials. The service contributed by volunteers enables the Forest Service to meet higher standards of service than would otherwise be possible and to accomplish work that would not, otherwise, be accomplished. The volunteer program is not an employment program and will not be used to displace current employees, reduce current contracts, or cause cancellation of existing or planned contracts. The engagement of volunteers must not affect tour-of-duty or non-overtime hours worked by current employees nor diminish or reduce current contracts.

1830.4 - Responsibility

1830.41 - Washington Office, Director, Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources

The Washington Office, Director, Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources, has the day-to-day responsibility for the overall administration, implementation, and coordination of the volunteer program.

1830.42 - Washington Office Staff Directors

Washington Office, Staff Directors have the authority to recruit volunteers, negotiate agreements, and approve such agreements for volunteers assigned to the Washington Office.

1830.43 - Regional Foresters, Station Directors, and Area Director

Regional Foresters, Station Directors, and the Area Director have the authority and responsibility for implementing the volunteer program. This authority, including the authority to negotiate and approve volunteer agreements, shall be delegated to any Line or Staff Officer.

1830.5 - Definitions

Direction. The level of direction by the Forest Service that would occur to the same extent as the Agency would direct a compensated employee or group of employees providing the same service.

Group Volunteer. A participant in the volunteer program whose engagement is facilitated by another institution or organization, or by a unit of State or local government in cooperation with the Forest Service.

Group Volunteer Agreement. Used when an organized group is signed to volunteer on a project or over an extended period (OF-301a); also may be used when a number of volunteers contribute time on a project but not with an organized group.

Individual Volunteer Agreement. Used when one person is signed as a Volunteer (OF-301a).

International Volunteer. A person who is not a United States citizen or permanent resident and is approved by Washington Office International Programs to volunteer in the United States. See FSM 1810 for policy on international volunteers on domestic conservation crews.

Oversight. The level of project direction provided by the Forest Service that would occur to the same extent as the Agency would provide a compensated employee or group of employees providing the same service.

Supervision. The level of direction, project oversight, assignment of work, sharing of information on responsibilities, and addressing of conduct and performance issues that would occur to the same extent as the Agency would supervise a compensated employee or group of employees providing the same service.

Volunteer. A person who donates time and talent to advance the mission of the Forest Service and who receives no salary or wages from the Forest Service for the voluntary service.

Volunteer Group. An organization whose members donate time and talent to advance the mission of the Forest Service and which receives no salary or wages for its members from the Forest Service for the voluntary service provided. A volunteer group may also serve in the role as a Project Manager on behalf of the Agency, coordinating and supervising its members, unaffiliated individual volunteers, or other volunteer organizations and its members who want to donate time and talent to advance the mission of the Forest Service in collaboration with the Forest Service.

Volunteer Sign Up Form for Groups. Used to document a number of volunteers

1830.6 - Program Administration

Units may designate a Volunteer Program Coordinator to administer the program. Coordinators and others should utilize the “Volunteers in the Forest Service: A Guide for Coordinators” as additional guidance for program administration.


The Forest Service recruits, accepts, and trains volunteers without regard to Civil Service laws, rules, or regulations. Volunteers may be solicited and accepted from many sources, however, the primary outreach platform for volunteers and Forest Service staff alike is the Federal Interagency Team of Volunteerism sponsored website, International volunteers must be approved and processed in advance of their service by Washington Office International Programs.

Insofar as possible, volunteers should be recruited from nearby communities and placed in service in or near their community of residence. This practice serves not only the volunteer but also the needs of the Forest Service by making it possible to extend available funding for volunteer efforts.
The Forest Service may cooperate with partners such as public or private agencies, tribal governments, organizations, institutions, or persons to increase the capacity of both entities to recruit, accept, train, and engage volunteers towards accomplishment of the Forest Service mission. A Challenge Cost Share Agreement is most often the appropriate instrument for this type of partnership resource leveraging.

1831.1 - Volunteer Recruitment Rosters

Rosters of volunteer candidates and volunteer positions may be established at local, Regional, Station, Area, or national levels. Such rosters assist in the orderly recruitment and placement of volunteers.

1831.2 - Inclusion of Diverse Populations

Forest Service units should design and implement outreach efforts and recruitment programs that attract as well as inform persons with disabilities, and underrepresented and diverse populations.

Strategies to accomplish outreach goals should include the development of relationships with local communities and organizations, universities, and national organizations, which represent these segments of the population. Utilize unit Civil Rights staff and programs, and follow the guidance of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, as amended.
Public or private agencies, tribal governments, organizations, institutions or persons partnering through an official agreement with the Forest Service to recruit, accept and train volunteers are required to follow the guidance of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, as amended.


An authorized Forest Service official enrolls an individual or group of volunteers by executing an agreement based upon a process of negotiation between the applicant and the official.

Individual volunteers and volunteer groups signed up on forms OF-301a and OF-301b are considered Forest Service volunteers.

1832.1 - Applicants

1832.11 - Qualifications

The Forest Service officer authorized to negotiate and approve volunteer agreements shall determine the necessary qualifications for each volunteer assignment. Office of Personnel Management qualification requirements do not apply. The volunteer's health and physical condition must be sufficient to permit the use of the volunteered services without causing anyone undue hazard. This requirement is not intended to discourage applications from persons with disabilities. In fact, units should encourage persons with disabilities to apply.

Volunteers may be required to declare and to demonstrate their ability to safely execute required tasks. Any volunteer under age 18 must have written consent of a parent or legal guardian. Observe applicable Federal and State child labor laws.
Pursuant to the Crime Control Act of 1990 (CCA), criminal background checks or criminal history inquiries shall be performed on applicants or volunteers who provide child care services to children under the age of 18. Child care activities are defined in the CCA and include, but are not limited to, recreational activities, organizational camps, outfitting and guiding, photography, and educational activities. Forest Service volunteers who are or will be involved in engaging volunteers under the age of 18 are considered to be participating in child care activities. Criminal background checks are not required for volunteers engaged in educational, volunteer, or recreational programs for children under the age of 18 if the parent or legal guardian of the children involved will be present at all times. The CCA does not specify how often background checks must be performed. Forests and Districts should refer to the laws of states in which the volunteer(s) will be serving to determine the required frequency of such checks.
Background checks are encouraged for volunteers serving as campground hosts even if they are not performing child care services as defined by the CCA. Background checks may also be performed in other situations where public or employee safety warrants such investigations. The Forest Service should pay for any background checks it requires.

1832.12 - Federal Employee Volunteers

Federal employees who are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act may serve as volunteers. However, the authority of the Volunteers in the National Forests Act may not be used to authorize a Federal employee's participation in any off-duty function or extracurricular event in which that employee might normally participate without reference to the Act. Neither may the participation of a Federal employee in a volunteer activity preclude the participation of a qualified applicant from the general public. Participation by Federal employees must always be clearly voluntary.

Employees who are not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act may volunteer when the Forest Service has not asked the employee implicitly or expressly to perform the services, and when the services are not in connection with the employee's principle work activity.
Families and relatives of Forest Service employees are eligible for volunteer service as long as the official who negotiates and signs the agreement form is not an immediate family member.

1832.2 - Group Volunteers

The Volunteers in the National Forests Act provides the authority to make agreements with institutions, organizations, or units of State, tribal, or local government, who recruit and supervise individuals as Forest Service volunteers on Forest Service lands in collaboration with Forest Service staff. Use form OF-301a Volunteer Service Agreement--Natural & Cultural Resources for this purpose.

Volunteer group members or event, project, or activity volunteers should be listed on form OF-301b Volunteer Sign up Form for Groups, which is submitted to the Forest Service official prior to the beginning of any actual performance of service on a group volunteer project, event, or activity.


1. Use form OF-301a to document the service the volunteer or volunteer group is to perform and any terms and conditions governing the service. This form is the official instrument of authorization for all volunteer reimbursements. Information should include Incidental Expenses the agreement will and will not cover and to what extent. Refer to FSM 1833.5 for allowable expenses.

2. Description of Volunteer Duties - Provide a comprehensive description of duties and services requested by the Forest Service during interview and negotiation with applicants to include the following:

a. Mutual goals and objectives of the volunteer or group and the Forest Service.

b. Roles and responsibilities of the Forest Service and the individual or group and how each party will contribute to the success of the project.

c. Thorough description of volunteer's duties. Do not formalize volunteer's duties in a job or position description in the same format as for an employee. Avoid personnel management-type terminology when describing the service of volunteers. Maintain the distinction between Federal employees and volunteers both on paper and in practice (except as noted in FSM 1835.1).

d. Information on project/service locations, dates and times, Supervisor’s name and contact information, emergency contact information, and any required training.

e. Reference to safety requirements and attached Job Hazard Analysis.

f. Termination date for either review or expiration of the agreement.

g. Signature by the Unit Line or Staff Officer and the volunteer or volunteer group’s official representative. Parent or guardian signature is required for volunteers under age 18.

h. A volunteer or volunteer group may not begin service or travel on official business or commuting until both parties have signed an agreement.

i. Agreements may be amended at any time by consent of both parties.

1833.1 - Coverage of Volunteers for Injury Compensation and Tort Liability

Volunteers on OF-301a volunteer agreements have workers compensation and tort liability coverage by the Forest Service to the same extent as Federal employees and to the extent not covered by the volunteer’s group or organization. If the volunteer’s group or organization is providing all or some worker’s compensation and tort coverage, note it on the OF-301a.

1833.11 - Use of Volunteer Agreements and Challenge Cost Share Agreements

Volunteer agreements may be used in conjunction with Challenge Cost Share Agreements (CCSA) in cases where a partner or cooperator is working with the Forest Service to create the capacity necessary to generate and manage volunteerism. In these cases, the partner and Forest Service can leverage each other’s organizational resources to recruit, train or directly manage volunteers or volunteer programs or projects towards the achievement of mutually beneficial outcomes. Each partner is responsible for the success of both the CCSA and the proper execution of the volunteer agreement. CCSA and Volunteer agreements can be utilized in conjunction as follows:

1. There is mutual interest and mutual benefit for the Forest Service and the partner or cooperator.

2. Volunteers donating their time and talent to advance the mission of the Forest Service are considered Forest Service volunteers and are signed up using form OF-301a, with Forest Service Authorizing Officer approval.

3. Under the challenge cost share agreement, the partner or cooperator may recruit, train, and manage the Forest Service volunteers on behalf of the Agency.

4. The challenge cost share partner or cooperator may count unreimbursed administrative and operating costs of recruiting, training and managing Forest Service volunteers as part of their match.

5. The Forest Service may reimburse the Challenge Cost Share partner for the cost of providing workers’ compensation and tort liability coverage to volunteers who are officially engaged in approved volunteer activities on Forest Service lands if the Forest Service is not providing such coverage through an OF-301a volunteer agreement.

6. Under the group volunteer agreement, the partner or cooperator may facilitate the engagement of the Forest Service volunteers on behalf of the agency, and may provide training and supervision on behalf of the agency. Forest Service shall be substantially engaged in the partnership, shall set volunteer training, safety, and supervision requirements, and must provide oversight of the project and programs in which Forest Service volunteers are engaged.

7. Volunteers and volunteer groups signed up using form OF-301a are considered as Federal employees for Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) and tort liability. The value of the volunteer hours generated as a result of the cooperative relationship between the Forest Service and the partner may count towards the partner’s match in the CCSA.

1833.12 - Use of Volunteer Stock and Equipment

1. An authorized Forest Service official may hire or rent, at cost or at no-cost, use of personal property from volunteers, under such regulations as are prescribed for employees and when such use is intermittent in nature and is in the interests of the public. Hiring or rental use of such property is at the discretion of the Forest Service official. A stock or equipment rental form, written agreement, contract or lease may be used, or use of a volunteer’s personal property may be included in a volunteer agreement.

2. Reimbursements for such use will be limited to providing daily forage for animals, and mileage reimbursements for vehicles such as ATVs, OHVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles or mountain bikes, and so forth. Refer to FSM 1833.5.

3. Routine care, such as but not limited to veterinarian exams, shoeing, worming, Cogan’s tests for stock, and stabling will not be reimbursed by the Forest Service.

4. Maintenance and routine mechanical repairs of motorized and mechanized equipment will not be reimbursed by the Forest Service.

5. Except for firefighting emergencies, no reimbursement for loss, damage or destruction of stock, vehicles and other equipment authorized shall be made in an amount in excess of $50 prior to the time the equipment was obtained, or $2,500 in any other case, unless the equipment or stock was made available under a written agreement, contract, or lease.

1833.13 - Volunteers Using Firearms

Volunteers may carry firearms in situations where field-going employees (except law enforcement employees) would carry them. Such volunteers must receive appropriate training and certification for firearm use and meet any other requirements for firearms handling.

1833.14 - Volunteers as Collection Officers

Regional Foresters, Forest Supervisors and Directors may designate volunteers as Collection Officers, per FSM 6533.3. Describe collection duties and training on the volunteer agreement. The provision of Surety bond for volunteers engaged in the sale of permits or collection of fees is neither required or prohibited (OGC 2008 opinion). Regional Foresters, Forest Supervisors and Directors shall determine the bonding needs of their volunteer Collection Officers.

Volunteers shall receive Collection Officer training prior to assuming any Collection Officer duties. See FSH 6509.14, Collection Officer Handbook.

1833.2 - Service Schedules

Volunteers' schedules are not subject to the same limitations or restrictions that apply to employees' schedules. A volunteer's schedule may be irregular and intermittent; and a volunteer may also contribute a one-time service. Federal and State child labor laws apply to volunteers under 18 years of age.

1833.3 - Travel and Operation of Motor Vehicles

A volunteer may travel in the course of an assignment if such action benefits the Forest Service (FSM 1833.5).

A volunteer may be issued U.S. Government Motor Vehicle Operator's Identification Card (form OF-346). The Supervisor shall determine whether or not the volunteer needs to operate Government vehicles and shall take the necessary action to obtain form OF-346 if the volunteer qualifies. See requirements in FSH 7109.19, chapter 60.

1833.4 - Uniforms, Costumes, Identification

The official insignia of the Forest Service volunteer program is the Forest Service shield with the word “VOLUNTEER” printed below it.

Forest Service uniforms, costumes, period dress for interpretive demonstrations, or volunteer vests may be furnished at the discretion of the authorized Line Officer. To determine which volunteers should be in uniform, use the same criteria that are used to determine which employees are in uniform. Do not issue any volunteer a Forest Service badge. Volunteers wearing Forest Service uniforms shall wear an approved volunteer patch on the right sleeve.
See FSM 6159 for specific information on volunteers in uniform.
The Forest Service may provide or require volunteers to procure, on a reimbursable basis, program identification materials such as patches, pins, decals, t-shirts, caps, and other wearable items which can be worn on/as personal clothing. These are considered incidental expenses rather than uniform items. These items must bear an accurate reproduction of the volunteer insignia and must be appropriate for local conditions.

1833.5 - Incidental Expenses

The Volunteers in the National Forests Act of 1972 as amended (PL 92-300) authorizes the expenditure of appropriated funds to cover certain approved expenses incurred by volunteers as part of their service. The Forest Service has authority to reimburse volunteers for expenses that adhere to existing tax code and appropriation law.

Reimbursement is meant to offset the personal cost of volunteering and in no way should be considered salary or be approved in lieu of pay. It is important to note that reimbursement to volunteers is not mandatory, and project managers and Line Officers shall use discretion in their authorization. Once the Volunteer Agreement is signed, the volunteer is subject to the policies and laws established for volunteers and can receive reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses they incur as a direct result of their volunteer activity. Reimbursements should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Washington Office International Programs for information on reimbursing international volunteers.

The type of expenses to be reimbursed and the rate of reimbursement must be specified in the Volunteer Agreement. Receipts must be provided for any out-of-pocket expenses and appropriate documentation must be provided for travel and per diem expenses. Volunteer expenses or reimbursements improperly documented can create tax liability for the volunteer and may result in the issuance of a 1099 tax form by the Forest Service. Ultimately, it is the volunteer’s responsibility to ensure the correct taxable income is reported to the IRS.

Reimbursements under Group Volunteer Agreements will be made to the sponsoring organization, not to an individual. Reimbursements directly to an individual volunteer group member may be construed as unethical and could create a taxable liability for the volunteer.

1. Transportation Costs. Volunteers may be reimbursed for out-of-pocket commuting costs (mileage, bus, rail, parking fees, tolls, and so forth) incurred on the way from their residence to their official duty station, and on the return trip from their duty station back to their residence. Incurred commuting mileage expenses may be reimbursed at either the IRS standard charitable rate or for actual mileage expense. Actual mileage expense reimbursement requires volunteers to show actual costs; including receipts and per-mile expense. However, expenses for general repair and maintenance expenses, depreciation, tires or registration fees are not reimbursable. (IRS Pub.526)

Transportation costs incurred while on official business within the scope of the Volunteer Agreement may be reimbursed up to the business/advantageous to the Government rate according to Federal Travel Regulations (FTR).

Submit transportation reimbursement requests substantiated with receipts and/or detailed records, such as dates, times, purpose, destination, and miles traveled to the Albuquerque Service Center (ASC) Budget and Finance (B&F), Miscellaneous Payments (MiscPay). See

Substantiated transportation costs should be coded to BOC 2121 for Personally Owned Vehicle (POV) Mileage and 2111 for Common Carriers such as taxi, ferry, or bus transportation.

2. Food/Meals. Generally, meals are a personal expense. However, funds may be used to purchase food for volunteers if the volunteer will be working in an area where access to normal sources of food supplies and/or meals is not available or reasonably accessible. The meals must be furnished on the business premises, and for the convenience of the Forest Service such as, for a business reason. Program Managers and Line Officers should keep in mind that catering to remote locations presents significant practical and logistical issues. (26 CFR1.11191 & 26 USCS 119).

Additionally, volunteers may be reimbursed for the reasonable cost of meals when performance of their service contribution requires them to be away from home overnight, or if they are in travel status. Meals include amounts spent for food, beverages, taxes and related tips (26 CFR 1.170a-1).

Meal reimbursement must:

a. Have a business connection;

b. Be substantiated with vouchers and receipts; and

c. Provide for the repayment of excess reimbursements within a reasonable period of time. (26 CFR 1.62-2).

Qualified food/meals should be submitted via the ASC B&F MiscPay process and coded to BOC 2131– Subsistence & Lodging. If a volunteer is in travel status, reimbursements may also be submitted through the current travel authorization and vouchering program (see para. 4, Temporary Duty Travel for more information).

3. Incidental Expenses. Volunteers may be reimbursed for incidental expenses incurred that are required and/or directly related to their service such as required uniforms, period costumes, subsistence supplies such as propane, and so forth (26 CFR 1.170a). Such expenses must be noted on the Volunteer Agreement and approved by the Forest Service official. Only expenses that are deemed to be in the best interest of the Government may be authorized. (FSH 6509.33.301-12)

a. Examples of incidentals that may be reimbursed:

(1) Propane or other heating/cooling medium for the temporary residence.

(2) Uniforms and period clothing (costumes) required for the project.

(3) Cleaning of uniforms.

(4) Generator fuel.

b. Examples of expenses that must be purchased by the unit:

(1) Materials and supplies for a project such as paint, hardware, tools, trail supplies, film development and communications devices such as radios, cell phones, and so forth.

(2) Safety equipment.

(3) Registration fees for required training conferences, as noted on the Volunteer Agreement.

(4) Training fees.

c. Examples of expenses that may not be reimbursed/purchased:

(1) Expenses for family members not volunteering.

(2) Insurance premiums, inclusive of Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) and liability coverage.

(3) Childcare expenses.

(4) Rental vehicle or other personal vehicle repair.

(5) Feed for stock and repair of tack unless tort is covered/incurred or a Personal Use Stock Agreement is in place.
Requests for reimbursement should be submitted via the ASC B&F MiscPay process and all expenses must be accounted for with supporting receipts. Contact Washington Office International Programs for information on reimbursements to international volunteers. Statements certified by volunteers and/or service employees are not sufficient substantiation for expense reimbursements.
Incidentals should be coded to the appropriate BOC for the item(s) purchased.

4. Temporary Duty Travel (TDY). On occasion, volunteers will be required to travel to a temporary site to conduct official business/volunteer activities. When on official travel, volunteers are invitational travelers, and are subject to the Federal travel rules and regulations that apply to employees (FTR ch. 301). Accordingly, a travel authorization must be approved and upon completion of travel, a travel voucher must be processed. For more information, please see

5. Lodging. Lodging is defined in the FTR 300-3.1 to include:
expenses for overnight sleeping facilities, baths, personal use of the room during daytime, telephone access fee, and service charges for fans, air conditioners, heaters and fires furnished in the room when such charges are not included in the room rate. Lodging does not include accommodations on airplanes, trains, buses, or ships. Such cost is included in the transportation cost and is not considered a lodging expense.”

a. Volunteers may be reimbursed for actual and reasonable lodging costs incurred while on assignment when performance of their service requires them to stay away from home/residence overnight.

b. Volunteers may be lodged in government quarters, when not needed for paid employees, and shall not be charged rent or utility costs. Lodging must be furnished on the business premises, for the convenience of the Forest Service, and the volunteer must accept lodging in order to properly perform volunteer functions/duties.

c. In situations where a volunteer is housed at a camp site, and/or when volunteers use privately owned camping or recreational vehicles while on assignment, the “Field Rate” per diem may be used. Field rate per diem may be established by local Line Officers. Reduced per diem rates are also used for TDY over 30 days. A travel authorization must be approved and volunteers are subject to the Federal travel rules and regulations that apply to employees. (FTR 301)

For purposes of this section, the IRS definition of “home” is:

1. The regular or principal (if more than one regular) place of business, or

2. If no regular or principal place of business because of the nature of the trade or business, then at the regular place of abode in a real and substantial sense. Revenue Ruling 60-189, 1960-1 C.B. 60
If neither of the two categories are an accurate reflection of a taxpayers’ home, they are considered to be an itinerant whose home is wherever they happen to work, and thus is not “away from home” for traveling expense deduction purposes. There are three objective factors that may be used to determine, with respect to the taxable year in question, the nature of a taxpayer’s assertion that the claimed abode is the “regular place of abode in a real and substantial sense”. They are:

1. Whether the taxpayer performs a portion of their business in the vicinity of the claimed abode and uses such abode (for purposes of lodging) while performing such business there;

2. Whether the taxpayer’s living expenses incurred at the claimed abode are duplicated because the business requires them to be away; and

3. Whether the taxpayer:

a. Has not abandoned the vicinity in which their historical place of lodging and claimed abode are both located;

b. Has a member or members of family (marital or lineal only) currently residing at the claimed abode; or

c. Uses the claimed abode frequently for purposes of lodging.

4. If the taxpayer fails to satisfy at least two of the three objective factors set forth in the preceding paragraph, they will be regarded as itinerants whose “home” is wherever they happen to serve , and thus cannot be “away from home” according to Internal Revenue Service Revenue Ruling 73-529, 1973-2 C.B. 37.

5. Travelers are eligible for an allowance when performing official travel away from the official station, incurring per diem expenses while performing official travel, or traveling for more than 12 hours (FSH 6509.33, 301-11.1).

6. Workers Compensation, Tort and Liability Coverage. OWCP and liability insurance are not reimbursable expenses via Volunteer Agreements.

7. Deductible Volunteer Expenses. Volunteers provide services without compensation, and may be reimbursed for certain expenses. Expenses exceeding allowable reimbursement may be able to be claimed as a charitable contribution on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040. Volunteers should refer to IRS Publication 526, “Charitable Contributions” for information regarding claiming deductible contributions on their Federal income tax returns.

8. Documentation/Recordkeeping. The Vendor Code Information Worksheet FS6500231 must be completed for all volunteers claiming reimbursement and forwarded to ASC B&F Miscellaneous Payments prior to the first reimbursement request, and for any subsequent changes to the volunteer’s information.

All documentation regarding volunteer payment must be complete and accurate, and include all appropriate supporting documentation, signatures and approvals. To meet these requirements, there must be:

a. Documentation that the expenses were incurred as an ordinary and necessary part of performing their duties; and

b. Proper substantiation of expenses (such as, receipts, bills, logs, statements).
All amounts paid that do not meet these requirements may be considered income and be subject to reporting on an IRS form 1099.
The ASC B&F MiscPay process must be used for reimbursement claims. Supporting documentation must include itemized original bills, sales slips, cash register receipts or vendor invoices. A summary of expenses claimed is insufficient documentation and will not be approved for payment. Expenses should be listed in detail.
NOTE: “Subsistence” should not be used as a stand-alone, single-word expense description. Descriptions must be detailed and complete to include dates, rates, and so forth.
For audit purposes, complete copies of volunteer reimbursement documentation must be retained at the respective units for 3 years following closing the volunteer’s file (FSH 6209.11, sec. 41 part 2).


1834.1 - Performance

Volunteers are expected to perform service as described in the agreement and any supplemental description of duties. Responsible Forest Service officials shall ensure adequate supervision of the volunteers; maintain a record of hours served; and terminate volunteers if their service is unsatisfactory only after making a reasonable effort to determine and correct the cause for unsatisfactory service. Only the Forest Service official who signed the agreement or a successor or acting has the authority to terminate an agreement for performance issues.

1834.2 - Orientation, Training and Safety

1. Volunteer Orientation: Provide each volunteer orientation on Forest Service history, programs, objectives, environmental quality, and public safety, as appropriate. Also provide the booklet or a link to an electronic copy of “Welcome to the Forest Service: A Guide for Volunteers.” as appropriate.

2, Safeguarding Equipment & Government Property: Inform the volunteer that financial liability and agreement termination could result from willful disregard or negligence in the use or safeguarding of Government equipment or other property. Agreement termination could also result from willful disregard or negligence that jeopardizes their own, other volunteers, employees or the public’s safety.

3. Safety is the utmost priority on all projects and tasks: Safety policy for volunteers is the same as for employees. Ensure volunteers receive the necessary training to enhance their service and perform all tasks safely and with the proper personal protective equipment. Refer to the specific Job Hazard Analysis for each task and any certifications required. Each volunteer shall receive training in safe practices before and during assigned tasks (FSH 6709.11). Accident reporting for volunteers is the same as for employees.

4. Safety Training for Key Positions: Campground hosts and other volunteers whose assignments convey any level of responsibility for public safety should be provided specific training such as First Aid, CPR, and other emergency response protocols. Volunteers should be informed to not put themselves in harm’s way when dealing with public safety or any other situations in the course of their service.

5. Firefighting Training: Volunteers already signed up with the Forest Service may receive firefighting or other training incidental to their service; however, the Volunteers in the National Forests Act does not authorize recruiting persons solely for the purpose of providing them firefighting or other training which may lead to employment, or in any way using volunteering as a condition of paid employment.

1834.3 - Volunteers Requiring Access to Forest Service Computers and Buildings

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) requires non-employees needing unescorted access to federal information technology and/or mission-critical facilities to obtain a security credential. For new volunteers that require access to Forest Service information technology systems and facilities, a determination will be made as to the length of time the applicant will be associated with the Forest Service and have IT access. See “Background Investigation FAQ” on or contact your Region/Station/ Area Volunteer Program Coordinator or the Albuquerque Service Center, Human Resource Management section for information on HSPD-12.

1834.4 - Drug Testing of Volunteers

Drug testing for volunteers follows the same parameters established for employees. For instance, if volunteers perform duties which require them to carry firearms, drive commercial vehicles or heavy equipment they must undergo drug testing as would an employee. These are defined ad “test designated positions”. Since volunteers are not entered into the employee database they cannot be part of the random drug test program, but they can and should undergo an initial (“applicant”) drug test if they will be serving in a test designated position. See the HR Drug Test Program website for more information on designated positions.

Volunteer Agreements for volunteers who serve in test designated positions must include a statement in the Description of Service to be Performed section, which must state that the volunteer will be performing the test-designated duties and agrees to adhere to drug testing requirements.
The volunteer applicant will be required to report to the local medical clinic for the drug test. The unit requesting the drug test is responsible for all costs. Contact the Drug Test Program Manager at Albuquerque Service Center Human Resources division for contact information for local medical clinics which perform drug tests.
If random testing is required by the position, units can and should request an additional test after 6 weeks of the volunteer beginning service in the test-designated position.

1834.5 - Termination of Agreements

Volunteer Agreements may be terminated at any time by the Forest Service or by the volunteer. Personnel laws do not apply to volunteers but anti-discrimination laws do. The volunteer’s Supervisor should ensure that the agreement is being terminated for an appropriate reason such as performance, completion of a project or agreed-upon term of service, lack of appropriate tasks or supervision, and so forth.

1834.6 - Records

Volunteers should submit a monthly record of service (FS-1800-25) that documents the number of hours volunteered and when for the purposes of recognition and reporting to their Supervisor, who signs and forwards it to the unit volunteer coordinator. Groups may submit one group record of service monthly.

Maintain a file for the official records of each volunteer. Regardless of other requirements, the file must contain the following information on each volunteer:

1. The volunteer agreement;

2. Record of hours served;

3. Accomplishments;

4. Training received;

5. Amount and purpose of monetary expenditures for incidental expenses;

6. Medical records, if any, and;

7. Related correspondence.

Refer to FSH 6209.11, section 41 for records retention guidelines (generally 3 years after closure of the case folder).


1835.1 - Status of Volunteers

Volunteers need not be citizens of the United States. Anyone may apply for a volunteer position, regardless of citizenship status. Non-citizen applicants may become a volunteer if they meet visa requirements and other stipulations per the US Department of State. Other basic enrollment requirements are the same as for U.S. citizens. Contact the Washington Office International Programs for information on hosting an international volunteer.

Volunteers do not have the status of a Federal employee with respect to provisions of law relating to recruitment, employment, compensation, and employee benefits. However, for the purpose of the tort claim provisions of title 28 of the United States Code, a volunteer is considered a Federal employee to the extent tort claim coverage is not provided by a volunteer’s

organization under a Group Volunteer Agreement. For the purpose of 5 U.S.C. 81, subchapter I,

which concerns compensation to Federal employees for work injuries, volunteers are deemed civil employees of the United States within the meaning of the term "employees," as defined in 5 U.S.C. 8101, when coverage of work injury compensation is not provided by a volunteer’s organization under a Group Volunteer Agreement, or when such coverage is exhausted.
Volunteers shall enjoy the same degree of protection by State and local law enforcement agencies as all members of the general public. In those circumstances where State or local law enforcement officials are not reasonably available, Forest Service officials may, under 36 CFR 261.3c, arrest persons interfering with, threatening, or intimidating a volunteer when performing duties assigned by the Forest Service. In appropriate circumstances, volunteers may also file a criminal complaint under State law.

1835.2 - Recognition of Service

In planning and implementing volunteer programs and activities, Forest Service managers shall consider and include appropriate means of recognizing volunteers' contributions. Private individuals and organizations that make contributions to Forest Service programs may be recognized under the authority of Title 16, United States Code, Section 556h (16 U.S.C. 556h).

At the termination of each period of satisfactory service, each volunteer or sponsor may receive appropriate recognition; such recognition should be documented. Only nonmonetary awards may be given; follow direction in FSM 6511.31d. Any volunteer contributing 250 hours of documented Federal volunteer service after January 1, 2007, may receive an Interagency Volunteer Pass.
Any volunteer or organized group of volunteers who contribute a total of 1,000 hours or more of documented volunteer service can receive national recognition. An individual within a group may receive an individual award if that individual has completed at least 1,000 hours of voluntary service. The Supervisor unit should forward documentation to the appropriate Regional Forester, Station Director, or Area Director, who shall prepare a request for each volunteer or group of volunteers and forward to the Washington Office, Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources staff. The Washington Office prepares the Volunteer Certificate of Achievement for signature by the Chief (ex. 01).
Volunteers may receive a President’s Award for Volunteer Service. Contact the Washington Office Volunteer Coordinator for information on ordering this award.
Volunteers may be nominated for a national award in the annual volunteer award program conducted by the Washington Office, Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources staff. Contact the Washington Office Volunteers & Service staff for information.
The Forest Service may provide light refreshments at volunteer recognition events; follow guidance provided by FSM 6511.31d.

1835.3 - Credit for Service

When evaluating the qualifications of volunteers who seek employment, treat volunteer service as official service, give full credit for the type of work performed and length of service. However, volunteer service may not be credited toward calculations of retirement, leave, or any other benefit except experience.


By November 15 each year or as determined by the Washington Office, Regions, Stations, and the Area office shall report to the Chief the number, gender, and ethnic background of volunteer participants as well as volunteer accomplishments in terms of person-years and value of work performed for the previous fiscal year. The report must cover both individuals participating as volunteers on their own initiative and those who volunteer through sponsoring organizations, as well as international volunteers. The annual report must be submitted to the Chief through the Director, Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources with a copy to the Volunteer Program Manager.

Use the Volunteers and Partnerships Database (VPReports) to report the unit's participation in the volunteer program. Where appropriate, include relevant press clippings and photographs describing the program. Washington Office, Volunteers & Service staff shall prepare for the Chief a narrative report of significant events in the fiscal year. The narrative will contain a summary that highlights the noteworthy accomplishments and significant actions and events during the year.
1835.2 – Exhibit 01
Sample Certificate of Achievement

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