New guidance from OMB on the general federal hiring freeze begins to address some of the questions raised in the light of the scant guidance in the original freeze order and in an initial follow-up.
The first guidance explicitly stated that the exception for “military” personnel applies only to active duty personnel and that DoD civilian jobs are subject the freeze. However, many of them will fall under one of the exceptions, to be applied at an agency’s discretion, for jobs with “national security or public safety responsibilities” – which it did not define. The follow-up guidance clarifies that “national security” includes foreign relations, and that “public safety” includes activities that involve the protection of life and property – similar standards that have been used in deciding who must stay on the job during partial government shutdowns.
The new memo further partially addresses confusion over functions, or entire agencies not funded through regular appropriations; both the original memo and the first OMB memo said the freeze applies regardless of funding source. The new memo specifies that the USPS is exempt, which was generally expected, since it along with other self-funding functions are exempt from government shutdowns.
The memo also clarifies that the exemption for politically appointive positions extends to political SES appointments. Also exempt are civilian positions in the CIA or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, time limited fellowship-type positions, and seasonal and short-term temporary positions necessary to meet “traditionally recurring seasonal workloads” such as summer jobs at national parks.