IPA Talent Exchange Program

The federal government has reached a critical juncture in its efforts to strengthen its talent base. With a growing need to tackle many daunting challenges—from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic turmoil to systemic racial injustice and the devastating effects of climate change—agencies will need to draw on talent with critical expertise from other parts of society that will contribute to better decisions, better systems, and better program delivery. Our talented, dedicated civil servants need to partner with external experts to make the most impact during this critical time.

Intergovernmental Personnel Act, or IPA, placements help agencies fill talent gaps. Using a “tour of duty” approach to public service, the IPA allows individuals from academia, nonprofit organizations, and state and local government to work in a federal agency for up to two years, focusing in particular on priority programs and projects that require additional staff.

With almost 20 years of experience working on federal human capital issues, the Partnership understands the unique opportunities and challenges facing HR professionals, job recruiters and public sector leaders. As such, the Partnership is well-positioned to work with government and talent sources to scale and operationalize the management of IPA placements.

The Program

The Talent Exchange program aims to do just that. Under the program, participating agencies submit position descriptions for IPA assignments while the Partnership identifies potential candidates and matches them to agency needs. After the agency confirms the candidate match, the Partnership will work directly with IPA assignees to prepare them for the federal workforce.

This program prepares IPA placements to navigate the federal arena and maximize their impact in the public sector, and enables agencies to more quickly deploy external talent to meet urgent needs. By standardizing the process by which agencies recruit, onboard and manage IPA placements, this program also helps human resources professionals and general counsels improve their knowledge of regulatory concerns and best practices.

Participating agencies submit position descriptions for IPA assignments while the Partnership for Public Service identifies potential candidates and matches them to agency needs. After candidates are chosen, the Partnership will work directly with the IPA assignees to prepare them for the federal workforce.

Program details PDF IPA Agency and Candidate Guidebook

Are you a federal agency looking to bring experienced professionals into your workforce?

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Are you an experienced professional interested in using your expertise to serve the public?

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For more information or questions, contact [email protected].

For Agencies

The Intergovernmental Personnel Act of 1970 created a talent exchange designed to increase partnerships between federal, and state or local governments.1 The act allows federal agencies to temporarily employ individuals from academia, nonprofit organizations, and state and local government for up to two years without going through the arduous traditional federal hiring process.

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Application requirements 
  • Clearly defined talent needs.
  • Approval for the temporary placement of an IPA participant for 12-24 months.
Application timeline 
  • Sept. 24, 2021: Application opens. 
  • September-December 2021: Applications reviewed on a rolling basis. 
    • Priority Deadline: Oct. 22, 2021. 
    • Applying by the priority deadline ensures that an agency’s position description will be considered by the Partnership as a top choice for its first round of candidates. Please note that applying by this deadline does not guarantee agencies will receive IPA placements.

Each agency is responsible for managing its own IPA program with limited oversight from the Office of Personnel Management. As a result, agencies have maximum flexibility to design the job assignments and work schedules for incoming IPA candidates. However, this flexibility can often lead agencies to misunderstand candidate eligibility requirements, overlook recruitment opportunities and underuse the program in general. Through its Talent Exchange program, the Partnership will help agencies better understand—and take full advantage of—the benefits of the IPA program.

Types of IPA assignments

Agencies will be required to describe a prospective IPA candidate’s job assignment. Examples of assignment duties may include:

  • Enhancing the transparency and integrity of a team’s research design and data analysis process.
  • Designing, implementing and analyzing the impact of a large-scale field experiment.
  • Managing the solicitation and evaluation of research proposals.
  • Facilitating the development of team-wide plans to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within an office.

To reaffirm President Biden’s recent executive order on advancing federal support for racial equity and underserved communities, a substantial portion of the candidates will be chosen for positions with duties dedicated to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at an agency.


1 The exchange is authorized under 5 USC Sections 3371-3375, and is described in detail in the Code of Federal Regulations, part 5, Chapter 334.

For Candidates

Are you interested in using your skills to serve the public? The Intergovernmental Personnel Act Program was created to bring experienced professionals working in academia, nonprofit organizations, and state and local government into federal agencies.

Application requirements 
  • Ability to work full- or part-time at a federal agency for a span of 12-24 months. 
  • Full-time employee of a: 
    • State or local government. 
    • Native American tribal government. 
    • Institution of higher education. 
    • Nonprofit organization. 
    • Federally funded research & development institution. 
    • Research institute. 
    • Scientific society. 
    • Hospital. 
  • U.S. citizen or a U.S. national. 
Application timeline 
  • Oct. 1, 2021: Application opens. 
  • October-December 2021: Applications reviewed on a rolling basis. 
    • Priority Deadline: Dec. 15 
    • Applying by the priority deadline ensures you will receive your match information by early 2022. 

The Program

IPA placements spend up to two years as temporary employees of a federal agency and work on issues ranging from information gathering and program management to strategic planning. The Partnership for Public service will review your application and then match you with a federal agency based on your experience and expressed preferences.

Why Apply?

  • To gain experience in public service without leaving your current field or maneuvering a long-term career change.
  • To make a long-standing impact on the nation in your field of work.
  • To expand your professional network and develop career skills in a new context.

Types of IPA assignments

Agencies will be required to describe a prospective IPA candidate’s job assignment. Examples of assignment duties may include: 

  • Enhancing the transparency and integrity of a team’s research design and data analysis process.
  • Designing, implementing and analyzing the impact of a large-scale field experiment.
  • Managing the solicitation and evaluation of research proposals.
  • Facilitating the development of team-wide plans to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within an office.

To reaffirm President Biden’s recent executive order on advancing federal support for racial equity and underserved communities, a substantial portion of the candidates will be chosen for positions with duties dedicated to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at an agency.


As a non-profit organization, the Partnership for public service hosts federal employees interested in serving in a rotational assignment through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program. If you are interested in fulfilling an IPA at the Partnership for Public Service please click here.