In proposing rules to allow agencies to make term appointments of up to 10 years, rather than the current standard four year maximum, OPM said that one motivation behind the change was the difficulty agencies have in filling positions with uncertain duration.
“The intended effect of this change is to allow agencies the flexibility and discretion to hire individuals with knowledge, skills and abilities tailored to a specific project or congressional funded work that may not be required on a permanent basis or transferable to other functions of the agency,” its Federal Register notice says.
For limited-time projects, it says, agencies often have difficulty in filling positions because “work of this nature oftentimes requires positions to be filled initially for an unknown period of time.”
“This longer term appointment may also assist agencies in recruiting individuals with specialized STEM knowledge who prefer the opportunity to work on a project-by-project basis to build their resumes and maintain current skills,” it said in a proposal open for comment through November 10.
It says that the work performed by STEM positions, and positions needed in support of projects and organizations specifically funded by Congress, often lasts longer than four years because it “must continue until the goal or purpose of the work has been accomplished” but “may be affected by environmental factors or other external circumstances beyond the agency’s control.”