Workforce

OPM issues final rule on direct-hire for cyber

cyber volunteers 

The Office of Personnel Management issued its final rule to give agencies the authority to more easily hire for IT and cyber positions.

The rule, effective May 3, comes following the executive order aimed at boosting agency-level authorities in making hires for high-demand tech positions.

"The intended effect of this change is to enable [CIOs] to hire urgently needed IT professionals more quickly," it stated.

The rule specifies that the authority applies where agency heads determine a "severe shortage" of IT management employees. Employees offered jobs under direct hire will be eligible to serve for a four-year period, with the possibility of a four-year extension. The rule also stated that no one hired using this authority can be transferred to a non-IT position.

Following the issuance of the rule, OPM said that it will update its direct hire guidance to emphasize the authority of agency heads, CIOs and human resources personnel to make sure the authority is used "appropriately." To educate human resources offices on using direct hire authority, the rule stated OPM will also hold "interactive sessions" for hiring managers.

The personnel agency will also keep tabs on agencies' use of direct hire authority and will make agencies' requirement to notify OPM about direct hires within 10 days "a point of emphasis."

During the public request for comment, respondents raised concerns that the rule could be used to skirt merit principles or that it might impact veterans' preference. OPM responded that it was committed to hiring veterans and that "the opportunity cost for cronyism, favoritism, and nepotism is not only the highest cost that a government can pay, but is fundamentally at odds with civil service law."

Since assuming her role as acting OPM director, Margaret Weichert has continued the administration's push to implement direct hire authorities. Still, the future of the agency she manages remains an open question. The administration has proposed shifting the human resources functions of OPM to the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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