The increased oversight is designed to prevent a practice known as "burrowing in," where agencies allow appointees to remain in government at the end of an administration by giving them career jobs without making them go through a fully competitive application process.
"In light of the historical origins of the civil service system, OPM's role as guardian of the merit system is especially important when a federal agency selects a political appointee for a position in the civil service," Berry wrote in the memo. "While political appointees may not be excluded from consideration for federal jobs because of their political affiliation, they must not be given preference or special advantages."
The new policy defines recent appointee as someone who has held a political job within the past five years. OPM will check the appointments to "ensure they comply with merit system principles and applicable civil service laws."
According to the memo, career senior executives will conduct the reviews to "avoid any hint of political influence."
Max Stier, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, said he was impressed the administration had the foresight to make this change during its first year. "Typically, this is not an issue that anyone ever thinks about, until election time," he said.