The House Oversight and Reform Committee has passed HR-4448, to reverse a Trump administration executive order creating an excepted service category for administrative law judges that removed many job protections for ALJs and gave agencies more discretion over hiring for those positions.
Prior to that July 2018 order, ALJs were hired under a central system in which OPM conducted competitive examinations and agencies selected candidates from a list of those OPM deemed qualified. The order created the Schedule E excepted service hiring authority under which individual agencies are responsible for the entire hiring process, subject only to lowered qualification requirements. That applied to those newly hired after the order was issued; those hired previously have remained in the competitive service unless they changed positions.
The bill would place all ALJs in the competitive service while setting qualification requirements including one for seven years of applicable experience.
The committee also approved: HR-1508, to require that agencies make clear when guidance they issue does not have the force and effect of law; HR-2994, to limit the use of acting officials in positions that require Senate confirmation; HR-3533, to establish occupational series for federal positions in software development, software engineering, data science, and data management; and HR-4125, to exempt agency IG offices from partial government shutdowns caused by funding lapses.