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Facts for Your First Day of Work Gaithersburg, Maryland

The following information will prepare you for your first day of work at NIST. 

ORIENTATION:  NIST will be conducting virtual orientation.  You will be sent a separate e-mail that includes the date and time of the virtual orientation and instructions regarding how to attend the virtual session.

Reporting for Work

Federal Employees: You will attend a two-hour orientation on your first day at NIST. This is a virtual orientation that you can attend at home or on campus. Your orientation will begin at 11:00 a.m. ET. 

Before orientation begins, you will meet with an HR Assistant and complete the necessary documents to finalize your entry on duty. During orientation, you will be introduced to NIST programs and services, receive an overview of your Federal Benefits, and learn how your contributions will support NIST's mission.


The National Institute of Standards & Technology is located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, just off Interstate Route 270, about 25 miles from the center of Washington, D.C. Our address is: 100 Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, MD 20899.

Getting to NIST

You can get to the NIST campus via car, bus, subway, or MARC train. Directions by car are shown below. See information about getting to NIST using other modes of transportation.

From northbound I-270: Take Exit 10, Route 117 West, Clopper Road. Bear right at the first light onto Clopper Road/West Diamond Avenue. At the next light, turn left onto the NIST grounds.

From southbound I-270: Take Exit 11, Route 124, Montgomery Village Avenue/Quince Orchard Road. Bear right at the first light onto Route 124 West, Quince Orchard Road. After you merge onto Rt. 124, Quince Orchard Road, turn left at the second light onto Route 117, West Diamond Avenue. Turn right at the first light onto NIST grounds.


Parking at NIST is free. Please park in the parking lot in front of the Administration Bldg. (101). Please do not park in spaces designated as "carpool."

Official Days and Duty Hours

NIST core hours are from 9:30 a.m. through 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Employees must work with their immediate supervisors to arrange their official work schedule.


The Federal Government issues salary payments on the 2nd Thursday after the close of each biweekly pay period. Thus, you will not receive your first paycheck until 3 to 4 weeks after you have entered on duty. The "pay lag," as it is commonly referred to, is offset by the receipt of a payment 2 weeks following the close of the pay period which covers the date of separation. The NYMEO Federal Credit Union, described below, may be able to help new employees with a loan upon approved credit during the period of the pay lag.

Paychecks are electronically transmitted to a financial institution. The U.S. Government will no longer allow employees to receive paychecks at a home address or P.O. Box. Employees receive their paychecks through direct deposit on the 2nd Monday after the close of each biweekly pay period (the "official" pay date is on the 2nd Thursday).

Federal Income Tax

Upon entering on duty, every employee completes a Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Exemption Certificate. The number of exemptions claimed on this certificate will determine the amount of money which will be withheld from pay for Federal Income Tax. Usually, you should claim exactly the number of exemptions to which entitled. Taxes are automatically computed based on current Internal Revenue tables which will cover the taxes due. You may claim fewer exemptions if you have income other than salary from NIST and this income is not taxed. If necessary, in addition to claiming zero exemptions, you may have additional amounts withheld from your paycheck in multiples of $1.


Employees on permanent appointments, or temporary appointments of 90 days or more, are eligible to earn leave UNLESS they work an intermittent tour. Intermittent employees DO NOT earn annual and sick leave. Part-time employees earn annual and sick leave on a prorated basis, based on the number of hours per pay period they work.

Annual Leave:  For full-time employees, the amount of annual leave earned is based on the length of creditable civilian and/or military service as follows:

Annual Leave Accrual Rates:

Length of Service



Up to 3

4 hours

13 days

3 to 15

6 hours

20 days

15 and over

8 hours

26 days

Sick Leave:  Sick leave is accrued at the rate of 4 hours per pay period for full-time employees and is prorated for part-time employees based on the number of hours they work per pay period. Former Government employees returning to Federal service, who did not forfeit their sick leave upon reemployment in the Federal Government before December 2, 1994, will be eligible for a re-credit of their sick leave.

View more detailed information about annual, sick, and other types of leave for NIST employees.

Government Employees Health Benefits Program

All full-time and part-time career and career-conditional employees are eligible for health benefits coverage under one of the various approved health plans. These plans provide hospital and medical benefits for you and your family with the Government sharing a part of the cost. If eligible, you will be given an opportunity to select a plan and register after you enter on duty at NIST. There are several plans to choose from, including the traditional fee for service plans to HMO's and the costs to you vary depending on the plan you choose. Your coverage will begin at the beginning of the next pay period in which you submit your election form. Election to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program must be made within 60 days of appointment. If you are currently covered by the FEHB program, your previous plan will transfer in with you and continue without any interruption in coverage. Please contact your servicing Benefits Specialist to discuss any matters regarding your benefits. Extensive information regarding your health insurance benefits, including brochures are available on OPM's website.

Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance

All full-time and part-­time employees on appointments not limited to one year or less are automatically covered by basic life insurance (your salary plus $2,000) at low cost without medical examination. If you DO NOT want coverage, you must complete a special waiver form provided by the Office of Human Resources Management. Additional options are also available to employees who elect Basic Life Insurance coverage. If you need additional information concerning life insurance options, you may contact your servicing Benefits Specialist or access Life Insurance information online.


You will be covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Employee contributions are made through payroll deduction. For additional information concerning your retirement plan, please contact your servicing Benefits Specialist.

Standards Employees Benefits Association (SEBA)

All employees of NIST are automatically eligible to become members of the SEBA when they are appointed. The Association, which is an employee-operated activity, sponsors various welfare, recreation, and entertainment activities throughout the year. Employees may join the Association by filling out a Membership Application and paying the nominal yearly dues. The SEBA Store Office is located in Room A-46 in the basement of the Administrative Building, 301-975-3313.

Medical Services

The Institute has a part-time medical officer and full-time nursing staff on duty in Room C-33 of the Administration Building at Gaithersburg, 301-975-5131. For emergencies when on the NIST campus, dial extension 2222.

NYMEO Federal Credit Union

You are eligible to become a member at the NYMEO Federal Credit Union, which offers a variety of services to its members. The NYMEO Federal Credit Union is at 1 Bank Street Suite 100, Gaithersburg, MD 20878; telephone (855) 436-4100. Website:

Cafeterias, Food and Beverages

There are two cafeterias at Gaithersburg: located on the main floor of the Administration Building (Bldg. 101) and the Supply and Plant Building (Bldg. 301). The Building 101 cafeteria is currently closed for renovations.

Vending and soda machines are located throughout the Gaithersburg campus.

NIST Office of Human Resources Management

To learn more about the NIST Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), please visit our home page on the NIST internal website. (Please note: You must be a NIST employee with access to the NIST internal website.)

Created June 29, 2009, Updated October 10, 2023