A group of nine senators, all but one Republicans, has asked OPM to work with DoD to speed up approval of exceptions to the general hiring freeze, saying that “waivers for civilian hiring at military depots, shipyards, plants and arsenals are being issued by service secretaries on a job-by-job basis. This practice is extremely inefficient, impractical and should be changed immediately.”
Such delays “could further delay critical maintenance, which is already suffering from a shortfall in personnel,” and make it “much more difficult” to achieve the goal of improving military readiness, a statement said.
While the letter addressed only DoD, similar issues could arise at other agencies, as well, as the hiring freeze’s impact–including what the statement called its “unintended consequences”–is felt in agency operations.
DoD is just one of a number of agencies that set only general standards on what work qualifies under the freeze’s exceptions for national security or public safety, leaving it up to lower levels to recommend positions to higher levels for approval. DHS has taken much the same approach, indicating that it expects the majority of its workforce will qualify under the national security exception. So has HHS, saying that positions there in direct patient care, health-related research, and public health safety and emergency response generally will qualify under the public safety exception.
VA headquarters, in contrast, specified from the outset the more than 100 occupations it deems excepted, mostly for public safety reasons.