Candidates and alumni blame tight agency budgets, furloughs; ask OPM to extend April 8 deadline.
More than two-thirds of the 2013 finalists in the Presidential Management Fellows Program have not received jobs yet in the federal government, according to Office of Personnel Management data.
The competitive fellowship program, formerly known as the Presidential Management Intern program, gives current graduate and doctoral school students and recent degree recipients the opportunity to work for two years at a federal agency, earning the full pay and benefits of a General Schedule Grade 9, 11 or 12. Fellowship finalists are not guaranteed an appointment, however, and just 213 of 668 finalists in 2013 have received jobs so far.
A group of current finalists and alumni of the program are organizing a campaign directed at OPM to get more finalists hired. Finalists have one year to receive an appointment; the deadline for the 2013 class is April 8, but the group is seeking an extension.
“Sequestration, the government shutdown, furloughs and uncertainty over a new federal budget have caused many federal agencies to limit the hiring of PMFs,” Jeremy Furrer, a class of 2011 fellow, wrote in a Feb. 17 call-to-action letter to program alumni.
More than 250 current finalists have petitioned OPM Director Katherine Archuleta to intervene and extend the deadline, but they have not yet received a response. Furrer asked his co-alumni to make a similar request via email to Archuleta, as well as a request for an extra job fair -- by emailing her. He also suggested contacting Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., a PMF alumnus from the class of 1982.
“This class has had it pretty rough,” Furrer said in an interview with Government Executive, noting that 55 percent of finalists in his class received appointments, as did 47 percent of the 2012 class.
Furrer said finalists must be completely onboarded, not just hired, including receiving a security clearance and clearing other “administrative hurdles” by April 8. He added that finalists are in a particularly tough position because agencies tend to hold off on hiring potential PMF workers toward the end of their one-year window, opting instead to wait for the new batch.
“Finalists will be pretty hard pressed in the next seven or eight weeks,” Furrer said. “They’re fighting an uphill battle.”
Furrer has received a positive response from his alumni network, who “take pride in being PMF alumni” and want to ensure success for future classes.
“Being a PMF is an amazing opportunity,” Furrer said. “It’s an opportunity for recent graduates to put their best foot forward, contributing their schooling and knowledge to public service.” There are “so many folks that have amazing talents,” Furrer added, saying it would be a waste to let such people slip away because of an arbitrary deadline.
OPM did not respond to a request for comment for this story.