Details on federal hiring changes expected this week

By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268 

Draft guidelines for minimizing agencies' reliance on college degrees when hiring for civil service positions should come this week, according to a senior Office of Personnel Management official.

OPM Deputy Associate Director for Strategic Workforce Planning John York, speaking at a Sept. 16 FCW event, said the guidance -- which covers implementation of President Donald Trump's June 26 executive order on "Modernizing and Reforming the Assessment and Hiring of Federal Job Candidates," was nearly ready for agency review. The guidance will be finalized by Christmas, he added.

The executive order calls on federal agencies "to prescribe a minimum educational requirement for employment in the Federal competitive service" only when a degree or other educational qualification "is legally required to perform the duties of the position in the State or locality where those duties are to be performed."

Instead, York explained, the "EO requires agencies to develop skill- and competency-based assessments for every job they advertise in the competitive service." This new approach could be especially beneficial when filling IT jobs, he added, noting that "in many parts of the government, cybersecurity experts are hired by a system that pre-dates the existence of cybersecurity."

Many details must still be worked out regarding a change that York called "the biggest shift in federal hiring in almost 40 years." Those include standards for the assessments, and the development or procurement of the systems for administering such tests. He said OPM was working toward shared services to support agency's assessment efforts.

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN, as well as General Manager of Public Sector 360.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of, Schneider also helped launch the political site in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times,, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.


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