Federal Career Intern Program on thin ice

The much-criticized Federal Career Intern Program is under fire following findings that the process violates veterans preference laws.

The Merit Systems Protection Board on Nov. 2 issued a decision in the cases of David Dean and Larry Evans, preference-eligible veterans who claimed the government's use of FCIP did not allow them to compete fairly for federal employment. Dean alleged he was unable to apply for a federal job because FCIP openings do not meet the same public notice regulations as competitive service jobs. Evans applied for one of nine vacant GS-7 positions at the Veterans Affairs Department, but all of the jobs were filled using FCIP.

According to the board, the intern program presents two legal issues. First, it allows agencies to classify positions under excepted rather than competitive service, even after a vacancy announcement is posted and applications are received. FCIP also does not justify the placement of positions as excepted service or demonstrate it is "necessary" for "conditions of good administration," the ruling stated.

The decision requires the Office of Personnel Management to match FCIP with regulations set in Title 5 of the U.S. Code within 120 days. It also mandates that VA within 30 days reconstruct its hiring process for which Evans applied and inform him of its actions.

"The MSPB decision precludes OPM from continuing the Federal Career Intern Program until such time that OPM brings the program into compliance with Title 5," said Andres Grajales, assistant general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees.

Federal employee unions and veterans groups have attacked the controversial FCIP, calling it a loophole through which agencies avoid veterans preference and fair competition for jobs, as well as an abuse of merit systems principles.

William Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said FCIP lacked internal controls for ensuring the program was used properly. There also were documented cases in which agencies used the program to bypass veterans on the hiring roster, he added.

"It's an important decision from the standpoint of it really reaffirms the intent of veterans preference and doesn't allow these types of excepted service hiring authorities to circumvent hiring veterans," said Dougan.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley praised the ruling. She has been pushing to eliminate FCIP and convert workers hired through the program to competitive service without loss of pay or benefits.

"I welcome this highly significant decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board, which ratifies NTEU's long-standing position regarding the illegality of the FCIP," said Kelley.

In his May memorandum on improving government hiring, President Obama directed OPM to review FCIP and develop an improvement plan. OPM Director John Berry said in September the plan had been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget and was under agency review. The proposal simplifies the process for students applying for federal jobs and could be made public later this fall, he added.

OPM is reviewing the board's decision.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.