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Guide: GSA Onboarding Paperwork

Before you start at 18F, there are quite a few forms to fill out. Deep breath! You’ll get through this. The first big round of forms comes after you receive your tentative offer, but before you’re asked to fill out an e-QIP, or detailed background check.

GSA Employee Benefits and Information

GSA Onboarding Document

SF-144 - Statement of Prior Federal Service

I-9 - Employment Eligibility Verification

SF-256 - Self-Identification of Disability

SF-181 - Ethnicity and Race Identification

SF-1199 - Direct Deposit Sign-Up Form

W-4 - Federal Income Tax Withholding

State Tax Withholding Forms

RSIF - Reserve Status Identification Form

ECI - Emergency Contact Information

SF-2809 - Health Benefits Election Form

SF-2817 - Life Insurance Election Form

TSP-1 - Thrift Savings Plan Election Form

Beneficiary Forms

This guide walks you through the forms you’ll receive from GSA. If you need to download and print a form individually, click the standard form (SF) numbers below.

Part 1: Mandatory forms

The following forms in GSA’s multipart PDF are mandatory. You can fill these out electronically, or complete them on paper, sign, and scan them. When you finish, email the forms to gsaonboarding@gsa.gov.

GSA Employee Benefits and Information

After you start, you’ll have 60 days to elect your benefits (e.g., health, dental, vision, life insurance, flexible spending account, long term care insurance, thrift savings plan). We’ll cover benefits and HR contacts in your first week of orientation. For now, you just need to read this form and sign it to acknowledge the deadline.

You can find details about benefits on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website:

GSA Onboarding Document

This form is pretty self-explanatory, but you’ll want to fill it out after you’ve chosen healthcare and retirement plans (see SF-2809 - Federal Employee Health Benefits Election Form and TSP-1 - Thrift Savings Plan Election Form).

You can ignore the note about providing a college transcript.

SF-144 - Statement of Prior Federal Service

This form is used to credit you with any prior federal service. This can affect the rate at which you accrue annual leave.

I-9 - Employment Eligibility Verification

This form is used to verify your identity and eligibility to work in the United States. You’ll need to turn this form in with proper identification. See the included list of accepted documents for details.

SF-256 - Self-Identification of Disability

This form asks you disclose a disability, if you choose to. As noted in the Purpose section, self-identification is voluntary, and the information will be used for statistical purposes only.

SF-181 - Ethnicity and Race Identification

This form asks you to identify your race and ethnicity.

As noted in the Privacy Act Statement section of the form, providing this information is voluntary and has no effect on your employment status, but if you skip over it, “your employing agency will attempt to identify your race and ethnicity by visual observation.”

SF-1199 - Direct Deposit Sign-Up Form

This form allows you to get your biweekly paycheck with direct deposit, or electronic funds transfer. You may also be asked to provide a voided check at orientation on your first day.

In the meantime, complete these fields in section 1:

  • A: Name and address
  • C: Claim or payroll ID number (Social Security number)
  • D: Type of account
  • E: Bank account number
  • F: Type of payment (Fed. Salary / Mil. Civilian Pay)
  • Payee or joint payee certification (sign and date)

You also need to complete these fields in section three. Ignore the note about asking your financial institution to fill them in:

  • Name and address of financial institution
  • Routing number

W-4 - Federal Income Tax Withholding

This form asks you to estimate your taxes and choose your tax withholding allowances. The worksheet included in the PDF guides you through the process, but it’s worth talking to your accountant or tax specialist if you have any questions.

State Tax Withholding Forms

Depending on where you live, you may need to fill out a state tax withholding form too. Review this guide for more details.

These states are exempt:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

If you work in DC but live elsewhere, you’ll need to complete a D-4A - Certificate of Non-residence in DC.

RSIF - Reserve Status Identification Form

If you’re in the military reserve, the government wants to know.

ECI - Emergency Contact Information

Let HR know who to contact in the event of an emergency. (This form should be included in your onboarding packet.)

SF-2809 - Health Benefits Election Form

You have 60 days to complete this form after your start date, but if you need coverage, it’s best to turn it in ahead of time. The soonest your health insurance can start is two weeks after your start date.

You need to make a few decisions before completing this:

  • Do you need coverage?
  • Do you have coverage now? Are you planning to keep it?
  • Who else in your family needs coverage?
  • Which plan do you want to enroll in?

If you do need coverage, start by comparing the plans in your area. Include Nationwide plans in your search. We are non-U.S. Postal Service Employees, and we’re paid on a biweekly basis.

Once you choose a plan, find the enrollment code for Self or Self & Family on OPM’s website. As an example, the Self code for the BCBS Standard Plan is 104. When you add this code to Part C on page 2, make sure to save the form. The same code should appear on the GSA Employee Information form near the beginning of your onboarding packet.

Some healthcare plans include dental and vision, so be sure to read the plan details before choosing dental and vision coverage.

SF-2817 - Life Insurance Election Form

As a federal employee, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Basic life insurance. You have 60 days from your start date to change your contributions or opt out of the plan. See OPM’s guide and contribution calculator for more details.

TSP-1 - Thrift Savings Plan Election Form

Our Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is similar to a 401k retirement plan. Each pay period, GSA can invest part of your basic salary into your TSP account. By default, you are automatically enrolled in this plan at 3 percent, but you can use this form to change the amount you contribute each paycheck or opt out of the plan. Any selections you make start getting reflected in your second paycheck.

Part 2: Beneficiary forms

In the event of your untimely death, the government will automatically distribute your benefits in this order:

  1. To your spouse;
  2. If none, to your child or children equally, and to the descendants of deceased children;
  3. If none, to your parents equally or your surviving parent;
  4. If none, to your appointed executor or administrator of your estate;
  5. If none, to your next of kin who is entitled to your estate under the laws of the state in which you resided at the time of your death.

If you want to distribute the funds differently, complete these forms at your convenience:

  • SF-1152 - Designation of Beneficiary (Unpaid Compensation)
  • SF-2823 - FEGLI Designation of Beneficiary
  • SF-3102 - FERS Designation of Beneficiary
  • TSP 3 - Thrift Savings Plan Beneficiary

You’ll need the following info:

  • Agency: GSA
  • Bureau: OCSIT/18F
  • Division: Consulting/Delivery/Design/Infrastructure/Outreach/Team Operations/Team Talent

Some of these forms also ask for account numbers, which are easier to get after you start.