OPM has loosened some of the restrictions on appointments into the SES—typically the highest level to which career federal employees can reach—primarily involving situations in which moratoriums to changing an agency’s SES cadre apply during a change in leadership.
The goal is to provide agencies with “similar latitude as to merit staffing selection, in accordance with applicable regulations. This will also reduce burden to agencies and their SES time-to-hire, and create a more efficient process for agencies to respond to critical and exigent needs,” a memo says.
SES appointments are subject to a review process called a qualifications review board; the memo says that OPM “will continue to accept and process new agency QRB cases when an agency head departs, announces his or her departure, or when the President announces the nomination of a new agency head, in certain circumstances.”
It adds that effective immediately, if an acting agency head was serving under a Presidential appointment (with or without Senate confirmation), immediately preceding the designation, the agency will not be placed on a QRB moratorium.
Meanwhile, bi-partisan boards and commissions, and agencies that have acting agency heads that are not currently serving on a presidential appointment, may request a blanket exception to the moratorium, which OPM will consider on a case-by-case basis. “In circumstances where an agency blanket exception is not approved, agencies will still be able to request exceptions for specific positions, using the previous process.
“The governmentwide QRB moratorium issued when there is a change in administration will continue to be followed to provide the incoming administration some ability to determine its executive leadership,” it adds.