OPM authorizes streamlined hiring for stimulus efforts

The Office of Personnel Management will allow federal agencies to use excepted service appointments to hire staffers to carry out the provisions of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the agency's acting director announced on Tuesday.

"This authority will allow agencies to expeditiously hire needed staff without sacrificing veterans' preference," said Kathie Ann Whipple. "OPM has remained steadfast in its protection of merit system principles and veterans' preference, while at the same time providing agencies with flexible hiring authorities to meet their urgent needs."

The agencies can use excepted service authority to fill positions at any grade and at any facility in the country. The appointments are for one year. Agencies will be allowed to renew appointments in additional one-year increments without requesting waivers from OPM, but all appointments must end by Sept. 30, 2012.

Previously, OPM had reminded agencies that they could use authorities such as the Veterans Recruitment Appointment Program -- which allows the hiring of veterans temporarily for jobs up to General Schedule Grade 11 -- or the Federal Career Intern Program and the Student Career Experience Program for entry-level positions.

Whipple said that agencies should consider whether excepted service appointments are the best way to meet their needs. OPM is prepared to deploy personnel specialists to help agencies with recruiting and workforce planning.

The agency outlined its efforts to help agencies meet stimulus-related staffing needs at a March 3 forum.

A number of agencies and legislators have urged OPM to give agencies blanket permission to rehire federal retirees and to use direct-hire authority to help move the stimulus money more quickly.

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