The Office of Personnel Management has suspended the final certification process for new Senior Executive Service applications at agencies with leadership transitions.
The moratorium is effective when an agency head leaves or announces a departure and when President Obama nominates a new leader, OPM said. The policy only affects new SES Qualifications Review Board cases; those submitted to OPM prior to an announcement, departure, or nomination will continue to be processed.
OPM frequently issues the moratorium during administration transitions to give incoming leaders input on the top career civil servants they’ll be working with.
“These steps are being taken in order to ensure that any incoming agency head will have the opportunity to exercise his or her prerogative to make or approve executive resources decisions that will impact the agency’s performance during his or her tenure,” stated a Feb. 1 memorandum from OPM Director John Berry to agency chief human capital officers and inspectors general.
The Qualifications Review Board assesses whether SES candidates have the leadership and management skills to ascend to the government’s top tier of public service. QRB certification is the last major step in the SES application process. During the moratorium, agencies still can process SES applications and selections up until the final QRB certification.
Berry said that he would consider exceptions to the moratorium on a case-by-case basis to ensure continuity of operations at agencies undergoing transition. “Such requests must specifically address the potential for adverse impact on national security, homeland security or a critical agency mission, program, or function that will result if a particular SES candidate is not certified immediately,” the memo stated.
OPM also will suspend its usual 90-day time limit for submitting agencies’ new SES candidates to the board to allow time for the incoming agency head to approve the selections.