Workforce

OPM rule gives agencies more direct-hire authority for recent college grads

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

The Office of Personnel Management is debuting a new rule for government agencies to bring recent college graduates into the competitive service.

The new interim rule, schedule to be published Friday, will allow agencies to appoint eligible candidates directly into competitive service professional and administrative positions paying up to $72,000 a year without being bound to some of the usual competitive service hiring requirements.

College grads who've earned their bachelors or advanced degree within two years of applying for the job will be eligible.

OPM characterizes the new authority as one more tool for agencies to use to replenish the government workforce, giving them a degree of flexibility to hire graduates and one more path into federal service for young professionals, in addition to existing programs including the Pathways Program, a set of intern and recent graduate programs.

Months ago, OPM finalized regulations to bring paid interns into government, something that could aid in increasing the shrinking pool of government interns, a stated goal of the Biden administration.

The new rule change "creates dedicated pathways into federal employment for rising professionals who may not have an extensive resume to point to yet," wrote OPM director Kiran Ahuja in a post about the change.

"Civil servants enjoy fulfilling careers that offer great benefits, the opportunity for a secure retirement, and the chance to tackle some of America's most pressing challenges," she wrote. "This new hiring authority extends that opportunity to Americans of all walks of life, and welcomes a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints."

Agencies will be able to hire eligible applicants into career or career conditional appointments in the competitive service at grade levels at or below General Schedule 11, without regard to rating, ranking and veterans preference rules, or requirements around career transition assistance or interagency career transition assistance plans.

Agencies also won't be required to post the job on USAJobs. They will have to notify OPM of the vacancies they intend to fill using it and advertise the position on their own websites, though.

The change is meant to implement directions codified in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

More guidance from that same legislation is coming, the rule change says. A hiring authority for time-limited appointments of post-secondary students will be implemented in a separate notice.

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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