Link to NRM Gateway Homepage  Link to public outreach items for Corps visitors  Link to Lake Discovery  Link to Recreation  Link to Environmental Compliance  Link to Environmental Stewardship  Link to Partners  Link Ideas
 Link to News/Current Events  Link to People  Link to Forums  Link to Learning  Link to GETS  Link to Tools  Link to Recent Gateway additions and archive of past postings  Link to Submissions  Link to Gateway Index and Search Engine  Description of tabs and contact information
Volunteer Program Frequently Asked Questions Banner

Volunteer Program - Frequently Asked Questions

Link to Disclaimer

    Q. What is the current hourly volunteer rate ($/hr)?
    A. FY 2017 is $24.14

    Q. What type of work may volunteers perform?
    A. Volunteers may perform any official government business, under the direction of a paid Corps staff member, except policy making or law/regulatory enforcement. Volunteers serve as campground and park hosts, staff visitor centers, conduct programs, clean shorelines, restore fish and wildlife habitat, maintain park trails and facilities, and many other important duties.

    Q. Do volunteers receive any compensation?
    A. Volunteers do not receive any salary, but in some cases may be reimbursed for actual out-of-pocket expenses. Reimbursement is not required, should be approved in advance, and identified on the Volunteer Agreement. Some expenses might include local transportation costs and meals during duty hours.

    Q. How do I reimburse incidental expenses to a volunteer?
    A. Check the procedure in your district before approving incidental expenses for volunteers. Reimbursement is authorized by Implementation Guidance for Section 1047 (d) Services of Volunteers, of the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, Public Law 113-121. Document the incidental expenses on Standard Form 1164, Claim for Reimbursement and follow your district's procedure, such as:

    • VISA check - contact the staff person in your district authorized to issue a VISA check and follow the procedure.
    • Check from Defense Finance & Accounting Services in Millington: Contact the Resource Management Office and follow the prescribed procedure.

    Q. What benefits do volunteers receive?
    A. Volunteers receive protection for personal liability under the Tort Claims Act as long as they are acting within the scope of responsibilities. Volunteers are entitled to first aid and medical treatment for on-the-job injuries under the Federal Employees Compensation Act.

    Q. Can volunteers receive a free campsite from the Corps?
    A. Yes, the Corps may offer a free campsite during the time period that volunteers are performing work.

    Q. Why do people volunteer?
    A. People volunteer for many different reasons. Volunteers gain valuable skills, often work outdoors at beautiful lakes, help people and the environment, enjoy making a difference, meet new people, achieve a proud sense of contributing to the future of the nation, and have fun!

    Q. Are volunteers allowed to sell permits and collect fees?
    A. Yes, volunteers are authorized to sell permits and collect fees at campgrounds, day use areas, visitor centers, and administrative offices. The accepting official shall ensure that the volunteer:

    • Signs a statement on the volunteer agreement or other document that he/she accepts the risk and liability of handling government funds.
    • Receives proper training.

    Q. Are volunteers authorized to use government-owned or leased vehicles, vessels, or other equipment?
    A. Yes, volunteers may use vehicles, vessels, and other equipment if approved by the accepting official and the volunteer has the proper training, license, and/or experience. The Security Officer in some locations may prefer that volunteers use computers that are not networked with other Corps computers.

    Q. What length of time do volunteers serve?
    A. Length of service is by mutual agreement between the Corps and the volunteer. Some volunteers may serve only a couple of hours for a one-time event, while others may serve for months or years. Some projects ask volunteers for a minimum commitment of 20 hours per week and a 30-day length of stay for positions that require more training.

    Q. How can projects locate and recruit volunteers?
    A. Some sources to recruit volunteers:

    • Local civic groups, Scouts, and church groups.
    • Project visitors, outdoor clubs, campers, and non-profit organizations.
    • One-on-one conversations, news releases, posters, and programs are some of the ways to spread the word about the volunteer program.
    • Workamper News: a bimonthly and online publication that targets campers that want to work or volunteer opportunities.
    • The nationwide Corps Volunteer Clearinghouse can help fill volunteer needs.

    Q. What is the Corps of Engineers Volunteer Clearinghouse?
    A. The Volunteer Clearinghouse is a national information center to match people who are interested in volunteering their time, with Corps projects and lakes that need them. The Volunteer Clearinghouse has a toll-free telephone hotline number, 800-VOL-TEER or 800-865-8337, and a Website, Potential volunteers receive information on the region requested with the names and phone numbers of the project volunteer coordinators. Likewise, the names, addresses, and phone numbers of potential volunteers are forwarded to the Corps volunteer coordinators that request them. Corps projects can also submit their current volunteer job openings to be listed on the Webpage. Contact the Clearinghouse, Volunteer Clearinghouse, LRN in Outlook, to receive volunteer program updates and a monthly list of potential volunteers.

    Q. Where are the volunteer numbers and value of service available?
    A. A volunteer report is available in OMBIL with the number of volunteers, number of volunteer hours, reimbursed expenses, and value of services. Projects should enter their data annually in October to ensure their program is counted.

    Q. Do you include the time that members of Cooperating Associations donate as volunteer hours in the volunteer report?
    A. Yes, projects should include in the OMBIL report the time that members of Cooperating Associations donate.

    Q. Is there a photo contest and/or a place where volunteer photos are needed?
    A. Yes, you can submit Volunteer photos to the Corps Photo Album at any time. There is also Volunteer section on the photo contest conducted by the HQUSACE Water Safety Committee. Check the website, In addition, you may submit photos to the Volunteer, Clearinghouse, LRN in Outlook to be posted on the Clearinghouse website.

    Q. Can non-U.S. citizens volunteer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?
    A. Volunteer service may be accepted from legal aliens (permanent residents) or foreign exchange students. Any non-U.S. citizen must present his/her Visa (or passport if in the U.S. in tourist status from a visa-waiver country where visas are not required) or U.S. Permanent Resident Card INS Form I-551 (formerly known as Alien Registration Receipt Card) for review and verification. Examples of acceptable documentation forms are provided in Appendix E of ER 1130-2-500

    Q. Where is additional information available about the volunteer program?
    A. Contact the District volunteer coordinator or the Corps of Engineers Volunteer Clearinghouse at 800-865-8337.

    Q. What is ww.Volunteer.Gov?
    A. Volunteer.Gov is a multi-agency website with on-line volunteer opportunities from various Federal agencies and some state agencies.

    • Corps volunteer coordinators do not need a password to post a volunteer opportunity to
    • Corps volunteer coordinators should send volunteer opportunities to the Volunteer Clearinghouse, LRN in Outlook to be listed on both VOLUNTEER.GOV and on the Clearinghouse website

    Q. What action do I take if a volunteer does not do a good job?
    A. Volunteers that do not perform their duties in a satisfactory manner may be tactfully released. The Volunteer Agreement has a place to terminate the agreement.

    Q. Where should I enter Volunteer data in OMBIL?
    A. ALL volunteer hours will be captured in the Annual Project Data Update section. In addition, volunteers that are also part of a partnership agreement (Cooperating Association, Challenge Partnership, MOU/MOA, Handshake, Contributions, Cooperative Agreement), should ALSO be counted in the Partnership Update section where they are associated with a partner entry. Click here for a decision tree/flow chart to walk you through the process.

    Q. When can the Corps purchase food/drink for volunteers? Can we pay for food/drink for a volunteer appreciation lunch/banquet/BBQ? Can we purchase small items of appreciation of nominal value?
    A. No, you may only provide volunteers with a paper certificate of appreciation, or a verbal thank you. The Corps does not have authority to spend appropriated funds on gifts. Volunteers may receive a free annual day use pass upon completion of 100 hours of service, and may also be nominated for the National Volunteer Award. Volunteers may be eligible for special Department of Defense Public Service Awards or awards by sources outside the Corps, such as the President's Volunteer Service Award.

    Q. How can I obtain access for a volunteer to use a government computer connected to the network?
    A. Volunteers may be authorized to operate government computers connected to Department of Defense (DOD) networks, subject to all applicable Federal regulations, local policies, ACE-IT, and AR 25-2 requirements. Volunteers requiring computer access must be issued a Volunteer Logical Access Credential (VOLAC) card. Volunteers must meet the following eligibility requirements to obtain a VOLAC card:

    1. Require frequent access to a DoD network to perform their volunteer duties.
    2. Be a U.S. citizen
    3. Be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) through the Trusted Associate Sponsorship System (TASS)
    4. Receive a favorable National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI). A credential may be issued upon submission of the NACI and upon favorable completion of the FBI National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check). The volunteer coordinator will work with CPAC or the Security Office in requesting support from the Personnel Security Investigation - Center of Excellence (PSI-CoE) for submission of the proper investigation to meet this requirement. Fingerprints may be obtained by the Security Office or by local law enforcement officials on the SF 87 and submitted to the Security Office. Volunteers who only use stand alone government computers that are not connected to a Department of Defense network do not require a VOLAC.
    5. Be eligible for a DoD sponsored unclassified network account through Army Knowledge Online (AKO).
    6. Agree to be photographed and have fingerprints taken and stored in the volunteer's DEERS record.

    Q. How does a District office establish a Trusted Associate Sponsorship System (TASS) VOLAC program?
    A. Submit a request for approval to the HQUSACE TASS Service Point of Contact to establish a Trusted Agent Security Manager (TASM) in the District Office and a TASS Site ID. The TASM will need to complete a training course to become certified. Once approved, the TASM will appoint Trusted Agents (TA) for each of the project offices within the District. The TAs will need to complete a training course to become certified. Once a TASS VOLAC Program infrastructure has been established within a District, the following procedures must be followed to issue VOLAC cards to eligible volunteers:

    1. The project volunteer coordinator (sponsor) will submit a request for a VOLAC card to a VOLAC Trusted Agent (TA), which will typically be the Operations Project Manager, Natural Resource Manager, or Natural Resource Specialist/Park Ranger at the project.
    2. The VOLAC TA will review the request and create a volunteer record in TASS, then notify the volunteer coordinator to complete the request in TASS.
    3. The volunteer coordinator will complete the application and return it to the TA for verification and approval in TASS.
    4. The volunteer will be notified to report to the servicing DEERS/RAPIDS ID Card issuance facility for VOLAC issuance.
    5. Volunteer Access Cards expire after 180 days, but may be renewed automatically.
    6. At the end of a volunteer's service, the VOLAC must be returned to the Volunteer Sponsor to a RAPIDS ID Card issuance facility for disposition, and access revoked in the TASS system.

    Q. Are background checks required for all volunteers?
    A. Not all volunteers will require a background check. Background/ security checks will be required for any individual volunteering in one or more of the following scenarios:

    1. Individuals who volunteer for more than 180 days in a calendar year.
    2. Volunteer positions that require wearing the USACE volunteer uniform clothing/name tag who work independently of USACE personnel.
    3. Volunteer positions that involve regular contact with children under 18 years of age without a parent or guardian present, or which do not require the volunteer to work under constant line of sight supervision (LOSS) by USACE personnel who have been screened in accordance with Army Directive 2014-23.
    4. Volunteer positions that require access to government files and records.
    5. Volunteer positions that require the collection or handling of fees.

    Q. Should I include hours served by SCA interns/conservation crews or other youth conservation corps participants as volunteer hours in OMBIL?
    A. Yes, hours served by SCA and other youth conservation corps groups should be entered as volunteer hours in the REC- Annual Update (wizard) in both the Annual Project Data Update and Annual Partnerships Update sections. Although USACE pays money to the SCA or other organization to use their services, the National Fair Labor Standard Act states that participants who make less than minimum wage are technically and legally considered "volunteers."

    Q. Are there any questions that are inappropriate or illegal to ask when interviewing a potential volunteer for a position?
    A. Yes, click here for a list of illegal interview questions.

    Q. Where can I find instructions to help my volunteer fill out the OF 301 suite of forms?
    A. Click here for instructions.

    Q. How can a volunteer earn one of the Corps Foundation sponsored volunteer Excellence recognition coins?
    A. Each year in the fall, a request for nominations is sent to each Division to submit up to 3 nominations for the national volunteer award. The overall national winner of the award will receive a plaque, coin, and certificate. The remainder of the regional nominees will receive a coin and certificate. Special extraordinary accomplishments by a volunteer may also warrant a Volunteer Excellence coin. An example might be if a volunteer plays a role in saving someone's life in a park, or something else out of the ordinary day to day operations. Contact your PAC team representative if you have a volunteer that might be a good candidate for this recognition. (Contact Heather Burke if you are within Pacific Ocean Division)

    Q. Are there any restrictions regarding providing a reference or recommendation letter for volunteers that have worked with the Corps?
    A. No, there are not restrictions. You may provide references or a letter of reference to any volunteers that have served at our sites. This is a great way to recognize hard working and productive volunteers. Many are interested in going on to other parks/locations and could use these for job references.

    Q. What procedures do we need to follow if a volunteer gets injured while performing their duties?
    A. Volunteer injuries are processed in the same manner as a Corps employee. As of January 2016, volunteers must be registered on the Department of Labor's ECOMP (Employees' Compensation Operations & Maintenance Portal) website.

    Q. What is considered appropriate training or training equal to a government employee when handling fees? Do volunteers need to take Fiscal Law training?
    A. Fiscal law training is not required. Volunteers should go through the same training that contract park/gate attendants go through in regard to handling of federal fees. Security briefings should be held with any volunteers that plan to be involved with the Use Fee Program prior to that person's involvement with the program. The security briefing should include, but is not limited to, the following subjects: Funds Security, Personnel Safety, Theft/Loss of Government Funds, Personal Responsibility, Reporting Procedures, Conflict of Interest, and Inspections/Audits.

    Q. What are the procedures to reimburse a volunteer?
    A. Click here to see example procedures developed by Mobile District.

  • Home
  • Policy & Procedures
  • News / Current Issues
  • Volunteer Forms
  • FAQs
  • Program History
  • Good Enough to Share
  • Training
  • Volunteer Clothing, Posters, and Brochures
  • Volunteer Clearinghouse
  • Volunteer Plans and Handbooks
  • Related Sites
  • Job/Activity Hazard Analyses
  • National Public Lands Day
  • Background Checks/Volunteer Computer Access
  • Division & District POCs
  • Corps Photo Album for Volunteers
  • Volunteer Awards
  • Volunteer Pass Program
  • Volunteer Program Annual Reports