Is OPM's big hiring decision all it's cracked up to be?

Excepted-service hiring authority is a welcome tool for some agencies, but it's temporary relief in the ongoing struggle to snatch up digital services talent — and it has been a long time coming.

help wanted sign

Agency executives likely breathed a sigh of relief reading the May 1 memo from Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta.

Finally, agencies could make excepted-service appointments for much-needed digital service experts.

But what will really be the impact of the move?

OPM says the decision applies to 782 federal IT positions, all on a strictly temporary basis (appointments can run in one-year increments until Sept. 30, 2017) at the General Schedule 11 to 15 levels.

Veterans’ preference is mandatory, and public notice is “strongly encouraged.”

OPM has singled out 25 agencies that could use the hiring authority to build digital service teams, along with dozens of agency transactional services that could benefit.

Some agency executives are emphasizing the positive.

“The unique skills required around digital services would be extremely hard for us to get to through the normal hiring process,” said Department of Transportation CIO Richard McKinney. “OPM wisely recognized this and I know all of the CIOs like myself who are moving toward building this type of internal capability appreciate having these new options.”

But off the record, some federal executives say OPM’s decision is long overdue – yet another example of OPM trying to play catch-up when it comes to tech hiring.

They wondered why the “Schedule A” hiring authority, which so greatly helped the General Service Administration’s 18F and the Office of Management and Budget’s U.S. Digital Service grow their teams, wasn’t extended to other agencies sooner.

For independent agencies like the Federal Communications Commission, the new hiring authority simply doesn’t apply, said FCC CIO David Bray.

DOT’s McKinney said new hires enabled by the decision will help agencies build digital services “muscle,” and he sidestepped the suggestion that the move was too long in coming.

“Long overdue? I'd say this is a very timely decision and recognizes the type of change the federal government needs to make in order to build our capacity for a new generation of applications and services,” McKinney said.

Kimberly Holden, OPM’s deputy associate director of recruitment and hiring, was similarly staid.

“The timing is appropriate,” is all she would say when asked whether the authority should have come sooner.

“There are many challenges to attracting top [digital services] talent because it’s an emerging field,” Holden noted, touting the flexibility that excepted-service hiring affords.

But government work’s primary appeal, she said, isn’t money. It’s mission.

“Something we have that Google or Facebook don’t have is that mission,” Holden said, claiming “dedication to public service” and a desire to “make a difference” rather than pay or a benefits package attract key talent.

Were agency executives chomping at the bit for Schedule A authority?

“I wouldn’t say there was a lot of pressure [from agency executives],” Holden says.

She also said she was “unaware” of any federal employee union objections to OPM’s decision.

The American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union did not respond to requests for comment for this story, while a spokesman for the National Federation of Federal Employees said that because of the union’s legislative conference this week, the NFFE was “not able to provide the due diligence to analyze excepted service appointments and their impact to the greater federal workforce.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.