Reference Manual 43 Uniforms

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Reference Manual 43

_________________________________________ _________________

Associate Director, Park Operations and Education (Date)

Table of Contents

  1. Purpose and Scope 1

  2. Background 1

  3. Authorities 1

  4. Reference Material

SUBPART A: Program Management

1. Managing the Uniform Program 6

Positions and Committees 6

Servicewide Uniform Program Manager 6

Servicewide Uniform Committee 6

Regional Uniform Program Manager 7

Park Uniform Coordinator and Committee 7

Park Program Administrators 7

Uniform Contractor – Customer Service 8
2. The Uniforms 8

Uniform Classes and Components 9

Special Work Apparel & Personal Protective Clothing 13

Out-of-Park Duties: 17

Special Event Uniforms

International Assignments

Attendance at Training

Detail Assignments

3. Wear and Appearance 18

Rules for Wear 18

Name Bar Standards 18

Uniform Wear Standards 18

Specific to a Garment 19

Hats and Accessories 23

Commemorative Pins 26

Other & Options 27

Obsolete Uniform Components 27

Exigent Circumstances and Waivers 27

Burial in Uniform 28

Personal Appearance Standards 28

Conduct and Bearing Standards 31

Regular Duty 31

Public Events 32

4. The Park Uniform Program 35

Requirements and Content 35

SAMPLE Local Standard 36

New Employee Packet 38

5. Accountability 38

Employee Conduct 38

Condition of Employment 38

Uniform Ownership 39

Misconduct 39

SUBPART B: Program Administration 40

1. Uniform Program Website 40

2. Organization Codes 40

3. Annual Program Cycle 40

4. Allowance System 41

5. Uniform Procurement Process 46

6. Direct Purchases 48

Components Covered by Allowance 48

Components not covered by Allowance 49

7. Property Management 50

8. Documents and Reports 50

9. Closeout 50

10. Proposals and Feedback 52

11. Problem Resolution 53



This Reference Manual contains supplementary material to the National Park Service (NPS), Director’s Order (D.O.) # 43, Uniforms.


Definition of Terms

Personal Appearance: includes all elements of appearance, grooming, and personal adornment.

Personal Adornments are any items not specifically included in the official uniform item list located in Section 2, of Subpart A of this manual, including, but not limited to: tattoos, jewelry, pins, buttons, fingernail polish, body piercing, and elective body modifications.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): common definition used in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and Director’s Order 50.

Ranger Hat: generic term used in this reference manual to refer to the flat-brimmed straw or beaver-felt hat. Sometimes called the “flat hat” or “stetson hat.” Used generically, the term is not meant to reflect job series or other uses of the term “ranger.”

Special Work Apparel: items required to safely and efficiently accomplish specific duties. Includes apparel items in earlier policy documents that were called “special uniforms” or “work apparel.”

Superintendent: used generically to denote the senior manager for any unit or office.

Uniform Coordinator: refers to an individual in a park or office that has a portfolio of uniform duties on behalf of that park or office.

Uniform Program Manager: refers to the designated manager positions in regional offices and the Washington Office (WASO).

Uniform Program Website: the Government-maintained website for uniform allowance authorization, is located at Employees can place orders at


The following expanded citations [refer to 5 United States Code (U.S.C.) 5903] and the Comptroller General's decisions set the limits of the NPS uniform program. Relevant sections of laws are quoted where appropriate, and clarifying comments from congressional reports have been cited where necessary to indicate congressional intent.

Uniform Allowances

1. Title 5, U.S.C., Section 5901(a) – P.L. 83-763 (1954), as amended by P.L. 89-554 (1966), P.L. 90-83 (1967), and P.L. 101-509 (1990):

"There is authorized to be appropriated annually to each agency of the Government

of the United States...on a showing of necessity or desirability, such sums as may be

necessary to carry out this subchapter. The head of the agency concerned, out of the

funds made available by the appropriation, shall:

1) furnish to each of these employees a uniform at a cost not to exceed $400 a year (or such higher maximum amount as the Office of Personnel Management may establish under Section 5902); or
2) pay to each of these employees an allowance for a uniform not to exceed $400 a year (or such higher maximum amount as the Office of Personnel Management may establish under Section 5902).
The allowance may be paid only at the times and in the amounts authorized by the

regulations prescribed under Section 5903 of this title..."

2. Title 5, U.S.C., Section 5901(c) – P.L. 89-554 (1966), as amended by P.L. 90-83 (1967):
"An allowance paid under this section is not wages within the meaning of Section 409

of Title 42 or Chapters 21 and 24 of Title 26."

3. Title 5, U.S.C., Section 5902 - P.L. 83-763 (1954), as amended by P.L. 101-509 (1990):
"The Office of Personnel Management may, from time to time, by regulation adjust the

maximum amount for the cost of uniforms and the maximum allowance for uniforms

under Section 5901."
4. Title 5, U.S.C., Section 5903 - P.L. 89-554 (1966), as amended by P.L. 101-509 (1990):
"The Office of Personnel Management may prescribe such regulations as it considers

necessary for the administration of this subchapter."

Congressional Reports

1. Senate Report No. 1992 (1954), which repeats in substance the House Report on P.L. 83-763: Funds will be paid "as prescribed by agency regulations, to each such (uniformed) employee for purchase and upkeep of uniforms."

The original report wording permitted use of funds for full payment of uniforms and for

their upkeep.

2. Conference Report No. 2665 (1954): Funds will be paid "to each such (uniformed) employee to defray the expense of acquiring (a) uniform...The conference substitute adopts the language of the Senate amendment, except (1) for deletion of a provision therein for use of uniform allowances for upkeep of uniforms and (2) addition of language giving the agency head discretion to furnish such uniforms out of funds appropriated therefor, in lieu of a cash allowance."
The conference report changed the wording to allow expenditure of funds only for

defraying uniform costs and disallows their use for maintenance of uniforms.

Administrative and Legal Guidance

1. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular No. A-30 (1966): The circular implements the provisions of the Federal Uniform Allowance Act (P.L. 89-554). It also establishes rules for allowances for temporary or substitute employees: “…The amount payable to a temporary or substitute employee who is otherwise eligible for a uniform allowance shall be determined by adjusting the standard for an annual allowance to take account of any reduced requirements which result from the limited period and nature of employment…"

The circular also established that the annual period to which the limitation of the

uniform allowance ceiling applies for each employee begins with the date on which the

employee first becomes eligible for a uniform or a uniform allowance under the act.
2. Comptroller General Decision B-166452 (1969): The decision stems from a question which was raised regarding the legality of providing an employee who changed uniform classes with the full amount of the new allowance if the two together exceed the Congressionally specified annual ceiling - $125 at that time, $400 at present. The Comptroller General held that "…both the statute and (the section of Circular No. A-30 on annual allowances noted above) must be construed as contemplating that the employee will remain subject to substantially the same uniform requirements during the annual period to which the...limitation applies. To hold otherwise would, in our opinion, constitute an unreasonable and illogical construction of the statute and regulations." This has been interpreted by the Solicitor to mean that the annual $400 ceiling cannot be exceeded except in situations where an employee completely changes uniform class, and these have been defined by the agency as changes from dress to another field or vice versa. No other adjustments that exceed the ceiling are permitted, whether for seasonal changes, for changes within a class, or in instances when an employee's adjusted initial allowance and replacement allowance combine to total more than $400.
3. Departmental Manual (DM), Part 344, DM 1 - Financial Management: Establishes standards and procedures for the payment of uniform allowances to employees under relevant laws and guidelines.
4. Departmental Manual, Part 370, DM, Addition to Federal Personnel Manual (FPM): Establishes Department of the Interior policy on eligibility and standards for granting

uniform allowances to employees.

5. NPS Guideline, NPS-43 - Uniform Program Guideline: Establishes NPS policies for the administration of the uniform program and standards for the proper wear of the uniform. Replaced in 2000 by DO #43 and this manual.
Protective Clothing

1. Title 5, U.S.C., Section 7903 - P.L. 89-554 (1966): “Appropriations available for the procurement of supplies and material or equipment are available for the purchase and maintenance of special clothing and equipment for the protection of personnel in the performance of their assigned tasks."

2. Title 29, U.S.C., Section 668 - P.L. 91-596 (1970); P.L. 97-375 (1982): “It shall be the responsibility of the head of each Federal agency to establish and maintain an effective and comprehensive occupational safety and health program...The head of each agency shall (after consultation with representatives of the employees thereof...acquire, maintain, and require the use of safety equipment, personal protective equipment, and devices reasonably necessary to protect employees..."

1. 29 CFR 1910.132 - 1910.136: Establishes the general requirements for personal protective equipment and specific requirements for eye, face, respiratory, head, and foot protection.

Administrative and Legal Guidance

1. Comptroller General Decision B-112031 (1952): "Questions concerning the propriety of furnishing special clothing and equipment to civilian employees have been considered by this Office a number of times and it has been held that where such equipment is essential to the safe and successful accomplishment of the work involved and primarily for the benefit of the Government, payment may be made from appropriations otherwise available therefor; but that on the other hand, if the equipment be solely for the protection of the employee without resulting benefits to the Government, and such as the employee reasonably might be expected to furnish as a part of the official equipment of his position, appropriated funds would not be available for the purchase thereof."

2. Comptroller General Decision B-174629 (1972): (Even though not specifically mentioned in 29 CFR 1910.132a, protective) “…clothing could be administratively determined to be necessary because of a priority safety need established by the operation of the safety management program prescribed under section 19 of the OSHA Act of 1970, and Executive Order 11612. Accordingly, if the clothing and equipment in question has been or is administratively determined to be necessary", then payment may be made from Government funds.

Badge and Arrowhead Insignia

Statutes and Regulations

1. Title 18, U.S.C., Section 701 (1948): "Whoever manufactures, sells, or possesses any badge, identification card, or other insignia, of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof, or any colorable imitation thereof, or in any other manner makes or executes any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any such badge, identification card, or other insignia, or any colorable imitation thereof, except as authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, shall be fined not more than $250 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both."

2. 36 CFR, Part 11.1 - 11.3 (under authority of 16 U.S.C., Section 3): “The term 'arrowhead symbol,' as used in this part, refers to the insignia of the National Park Service prescribed as its official symbol...”
"The term 'commercial use' as used in the regulations of this part refers to use of (the

symbol) on souvenirs or other items of merchandise presented for sale to the public by

private enterprise operating either within or outside of areas of the National park

"The Director may permit the reproduction, manufacture, sale, and use of the (symbol),

with or without charge, for uses that will contribute to purposes of education and

conservation as they relate to the program of the National Park Service. All other uses

are prohibited."
"Permission granted under this part by the Director may be rescinded by him at any time upon a finding that the use of the (symbol) is injurious to their integrity or inconsistent with the purposes of the National Park Service in the fields of conservation and recreation, or for disregard of any limitations or terms contained in the permits."

The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that a policy that bans on-duty employees from wearing union pins on their uniforms does not violate the free speech rights for union employees.

Uniform Allowance System

Congress specifically authorized uniform allowances by P.L. 83-763, passed in September of 1954. P.L. 94-458, which passed in October of 1976, authorized a $400 annual ceiling for NPS uniformed employees. Other agencies successfully sought similar legislation in subsequent years. In 1990, Congress raised the annual allowance ceiling to $400 for all non-military agencies.


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