Replacement Designees

Policy Letter 18-03

Publication Date: June 26, 2018

Date: June 27, 2018

This policy letter describes the role of a replacement designee (RD); outlines the process of transitioning from a program administered by a state to one administered by an RD; explains the responsibilities of an RD; and distinguishes between an RD and a Wilson/Fish program.

Replacement Designees
An RD is an entity other than the state government that administers all or part of the ORRfunded Refugee Resettlement Program within a state, in the event the state government chooses to withdraw from administering all or part of the program.1 ORR regulations at 45 CFR §400.301(c) authorize the Director of ORR to designate a replacement in such circumstances.

Transition from State to RD
When a state officially notifies ORR of its intention to withdraw from administering the ORRfunded Refugee Resettlement Program, ORR works with the state to guide it through the process of withdrawal. This includes agreeing on the parameters of a partial or full withdrawal, developing and following a timeline for the withdrawal, and exchanging information critical to the ongoing administration of the program. A Roles and Responsibilities document formalizes the agreement between the state and ORR on when and how to transition various aspects of the program.

While conducting these discussions with the state, ORR also solicits interest from qualified resettlement providers in the state about assuming the role of RD. Interested providers submit an application to ORR, including a proposed budget and a written narrative outlining the agency’s plan for administration of the program according to applicable regulations and policy. ORR’s review of applications considers factors such as interest in becoming an RD, strength of ties to the communities served, length of time serving ORR populations, and operational capacity and infrastructure to administer the program.

Once an RD is selected, ORR serves as liaison between the state and the RD to ensure a smooth transition. Cooperation between all parties is critical to making sure that clients continue to receive critical benefits and services.

Responsibilities of an RD
An RD must adhere to the same regulations and policies that apply to states that administer ORR benefits, and must submit the same budget and data collection forms unless otherwise directed by ORR. Section 400.301(c) does carve out exceptions within the regulations that do not apply to RDs.

In addition to complying with applicable regulations and ORR policies, RDs must develop a policy for resolving disputes between the RD’s organization, sub-grantees, and/or clients in a transparent and equitable manner. RDs must also have and adhere to a written code of conduct to ensure that administrative decisions do not result in a conflict of interest that unduly benefits the RD.

Replacement Designees vs. Wilson/Fish Programs
An RD is not the same as a Wilson/Fish program, and an RD cannot become a Wilson/Fish program automatically. A Wilson/Fish program is an alternative to the traditional Refugee Resettlement Program administered by states. An RD follows the traditional administration of benefits outlined in the ORR regulations. The Wilson/Fish program allows for different approaches in the provision of benefits including more integrated services and intensive case management for beneficiaries. In addition, a Wilson/Fish grantee can be a state, local government, or an NGO, while an RD providing cash assistance and social services is always an NGO. Because an RD is not a Wilson/Fish program, RDs do not follow the Wilson/Fish guidelines.

If you have questions about the information in this Policy Letter, please contact Colleen Mahar-Piersma at

E. Scott Lloyd
Director Office of Refugee Resettlement


1 Under 45 C.F.R. §400.301(b), states are expected to operate all components of the refugee program, however, a state may request and the Director may allow for a state to retain certain parts of the refugee program.


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