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Political appointees: Don't plan to stay

Are you a presidential appointee who would like to make your position permanent? If so, you face an uphill climb.

As FCW recently reported, The Office of Personnel Management seeks to discourage the practice, informally called “burrowing in,” and Director John Berry issued a memo recently to remind agency leaders. While it's not impossible to convert an appointee to a civil service position, it's quite difficult.

Essentially, if your agency is amenable to changing your status, it has to show a few things to OPM to prove it didn't create the new job just for you. Among the requirements:

  • Your current job description and the description of the position you want to go into.
  • Evidence of a fair and open competition for the position.
  • A description of the recruiting sources and advertising methods used to seek candidates.
  • The applications of all who applied and information on how each candidate met or failed to meet the job's requirements.

Although the policy of discouraging the conversion of political appointees to career employees dates back to the Carter administration, Berry wrote there were two important changes in the latest version, which took effect Jan. 1, 2010.

For one, OPM now conducts its pre-hiring reviews continually, not just during the year leading up to a presidential election.

“Second, we expanded the scope of our review for future hiring decisions,” Berry wrote. “In the past, OPM only reviewed an agency’s proposed hiring of a current or former political appointee when the career federal job was in the competitive service. Under our revised policy, OPM reviews proposed hiring of current or former political appointees for jobs in the excepted service as well. OPM's responsibility to ensure merit-based hiring for federal jobs includes both the excepted and competitive service.”

Posted by Michael Hardy on Jun 14, 2012 at 12:19 PM

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