Workforce

OPM extends deadline on implementing Trump-era hiring policy

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

The Biden administration extended the deadline for federal agencies to implement portions of a Trump-era executive order aimed putting less reliance on educational attainment in federal hiring.

The executive order, one aspect of former President Donald Trump's workforce policy that has not been rescinded by executive action, has the goal of changing federal human resources practice to rely more on "skills- and competency-based hiring" rather than resumes and college degrees.

The order, issued June 26, 2020, directed agencies to put that aspect of the policy in to practice by the end of 2020. Now an memo from the Office of Personnel Management extends that deadline to Dec. 31, 2021 as the agency considers the policy.

OPM is "evaluating its options for implementing this executive order," says the memo. OPM officials have previously called the changes "the biggest shift in federal hiring in almost 40 years," and said that they will require everything from new standards for assessments to developing or procuring systems to deliver the tests.

The office is also "finalizing" policy to allow job candidates to qualify for federal jobs based on skills assessments for positions that don't require specific education credentials by law. The memo also notes that many agencies use such assessments others "have expressed concern about implementation of this EO."

The office is going to plan a meeting soon to give agencies a synopsis of updated guidance for the other policies in the executive order and a list of what assessments and guidance for the agencies to use for now, the memo says.

Some agencies have already been piloting new types of hiring approaches that don't solely rely on educational level or an applicant's self-assessment of their own qualifications. The U.S. Digital Service, for example, has been working with OPM to pilot subject matter expert qualification assessments to give federal agency specialists more of a say in job design.

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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