Federal Manager's Daily Report

A newly introduced Senate bill (S-4027) aimed at speeding up the federal hiring process would allow agencies to make greater use of limited-time appointments and direct hire authority, among other provisions.

Sponsors said the provisions reflect recommendations from the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service and a recent Senate hearing involving agency chief human capital officers. Provisions include:

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* Extending to all agencies direct hire authority available at the VA in the event of a “severe shortage of highly qualified candidates.” All agencies currently have direct hire authority in the event of a severe shortage of candidates, but the provision would reduce the threshold and make it easier for agencies to directly hire not just when there is a shortage of candidates, but a shortage of highly qualified candidates, sponsors said.

* Increasing the maximum length of temporary and term appointments for work determined to be not permanent in nature. Temporary appointments, which currently typically are for up to one year initially, could be extended to up to two more years rather than one. Term appointments, which typically are limited to four years with extensions allowed only in limited circumstances, could last up to 10 years although initially set below six years could be extended only up to that number.

* Increasing the cap on the number of recent college graduates and post-secondary students who can be hired under an expedited hiring authority.

The Trump administration in 2020 had proposed rules to lengthen the periods for temporary and term appointments for positions in the STEM fields, rules that never were finalized. Employee organizations commonly argue that agencies can abuse those authorities to bypass standard competitive service hiring procedures and avoid hiring permanent employees who would have additional protections.

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