One employment option with appeal for all parties involved assigning Stewart and Feder to a university under the provisions of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA). The IPA allows federal employees to be temporarily assigned to nonfederal organizations for up to four years when it serves "sound public purpose," according to the federal personnel manual. The salaries and benefits of such employees continue to be paid by the federal government.

The federal personnel manual also states, "Assignments avoid unpleasant personnel decisions are contrary to the spriit and intent of the mobility assignment program."

Still, after consultation with Stewart and Feder's lawyers, according to Wald, letters were sent from the HHS general counsel's office to 23 academics who had written in support of Stewart and Feder earlier, at the time of their reassignment.

"We asked them whether they would take the lead in seeing whether placement was possible at their university,"...

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