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ACES - Helping the Forest Service Accomplish Work

ACES: A Tool to Complete Projects

The Agriculture Conservation Experienced Services (ACES) Program was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and amended in 2018. It provides all units a cost-effective opportunity to obtain services of non-federal, experienced ACES enrollees age 55 and older. Through Partnership Agreements, the Forest Service utilizes the services of ACES enrollees on a temporary basis; while minimizing agency administrative costs, time, and resources. For more information, see the points of contact below.

How Can I Start an ACES Project?

Forest Service employees can access the ACES Internal SharePoint site to review the ACES How to Guide and Frequently Asked Questions. See the ACES Points of Contact section to identify your ACES Regional Coordinator and contact them to receive regional guidance, deadlines and resources. All positions must meet non-displacement criteria and not perform inherently governmental work.

How Do I Become an ACES Enrollee?

ACES enrollees are not federal employees; rather they are program participants of the non-profit partners. Thus, the application and hiring process is handled directly by the partners. All applicants, age 55 or older, must apply online. To learn about the partners’ application process, visit their websites or contact them directly. Applicants are not required to be former federal employees, but they may be.

What is ACES?

The Agriculture Conservation Experienced Services (ACES) Program is a cost effective and efficient program that allows the Forest Service to acquire skilled personnel (age 55 and older) with “ready to apply knowledge.” The agency has Master Agreements with two non-profit organizations. By creating Supplemental Project Agreements, all agency units can gain access to the partner’s ACES enrollees. Each unit has a designated ACES Regional Coordinator, which provides updated program guidance to establish consistency within their Region.

What Services Does ACES Provide?

ACES enrollees provide temporary technical and administrative services for conservation-related programs that are executed on or directly impacting National Forest System land. Services include training, mentoring and completing temporary projects. The program is open for units across the agency, including the Washington Office, Regions, Stations and Job Corps.

What Limits Apply?

ACES enrollees are not Forest Service employees. They are program participants of the non-profit partners. They cannot perform inherently governmental functions or displace federal positions or existing contracts or services. A non-displacement certification compliance document must be completed for all positions and attached to each agreement or modification. ACES projects and positions may be extended through modifications, but cannot exceed the Master end date. The agency cannot pre-select enrollees, as it must consider all qualified candidates.

Who Funds ACES Projects?

Each unit fully funds their requested project. There is an opportunity for ACES to partner on Forest Service Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) projects, which come with funding and require separate agreements to track the funds. For information on GAOA and a list of projects, please visit the GAOA Website.  

Who Manages Pay, Schedules, Performance Issues & Training?

ACES enrollee’s pay, benefits, workers’ compensation, and performance matters (including termination) are managed by the non-profit partner who onboarded them. Work schedules (full or part time) are set by the Forest Service ACES monitor. Telework may be an option. The monitor also provides project oversight and coordinates mandatory training to get the enrollee access to agency facilities, equipment and vehicles.

How are Selections Made?

Each unit must consider all candidates (a list is provided by the non-profit partner) before deciding on the selected enrollee. Once a selection is made, the Forest Service informs the non-profit partner on who to enroll as their program participants.

Who is Eligible to Become an ACES Enrollee?

Applicants must be age 55 or over and able to provide services required for the positions, having knowledge in conservation-related programs. ACES enrollees do not have to be former federal employees. For retired federal employees, there is no waiting period after retirement before a qualified retired employee is eligible to become an ACES enrollee.

How Can One Apply for Enrollee Positions?

The application and hiring process is handled by the non-profit partners. Those interested can learn more about the application process by visiting the partner’s websites (see above) or by contacting them directly. Forest Service employees may refer candidates to apply and compete.

Who are the Non-Profit Partners?

Forest Service units may choose to partner with either non-profit partner. The partners provide the same services, but utilize different billing methods and indirect costs. To learn more about the partners, go to the following websites (listed in alphabetical order) or contact them directly.

Christine Garland
The Center For Workforce Inclusion

Rhyneta Fleming
The National Older Worker Career Center

Forest Service Key Resources

A hand with a small tree in it surrounded by text.

Forest Service employees can access a list of ACES Regional Coordinators (ACES Points of Contact) and helpful ACES awareness tools by visiting the ACES Internal SharePoint site. The site includes a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, briefing papers and training.

For more information, please contact the National ACES Program Coordinator, Lily Ramos Nieves.