DoD has set policies on special hiring authorities in its Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory demonstration project, including a direct-hire authority designed to streamline and accelerate the hiring process at entry levels.

A June 29 Federal Register notice says that the goal is to allow the labs “to compete successfully with private industry for high-quality scientific, technical, engineering, or mathematics students for filling STRL scientific and engineering positions.” It allows for hiring on a temporary or term basis of students enrolled in a scientific, technical, engineering, or mathematics course of study–at either the undergraduate or advanced levels–who upon graduation could be converted to a permanent position noncompetitively.

Those authorities were in the 2015 and 2016 defense budgets, amending the demonstration project that started in 1995 and that now includes 15 labs across the military services.

The notice sets qualification standards similar to Pathways Program standards, “which will allow students appointed under this authority to be aligned to a pay band/grade commensurate with the highest level of education completed and/or prior experience.”

It also addresses various technical aspects of the authority and requires that its use “must be consistent with merit system principles.”