Fedweek

In finalizing a broadening of a non-competitive hiring authority for former federal employees, OPM addressed concerns that were raised during the comment period about the potential loss of career advancement opportunities for current employees.

In extending that authority to positions at a higher grade and/or with more promotional potential than the person’s former position, OPM did not say how frequently the more limited authority had been used nor how much of an increase it expects under the loosened rules.

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But it noted that in response to the initial proposal some individuals, a union and two federal agencies “commented that this hiring authority will be abused and questioned the fairness of allowing former federal employees to come back to federal service at higher grade levels non-competitively when current federal employees must compete for higher grade levels.”

They argued that the changes “will discourage current federal employees, if someone is hired non-competitively, because current federal employees do not have the same opportunity to compete for a higher graded position,” a summary said.

OPM responded that “It is more accurate to view the two methods of qualifying for selection as counterparts for two different groups of people with prior experience in government. Both former successful federal employees and current successful employees will have the ability to qualify and be selected through methods that recognize the knowledge, skills, and abilities they have acquired, though through different paths.”

It said that use of the non-competitive hiring authority is not mandatory and that “discretionary actions must be taken in accordance with the hiring agency’s merit promotion plans and any collective bargaining agreements the hiring agency has in place.”

It added that before using the authority, an agency “must provide public notice through a vacancy announcement and apply any other forms of employment or reemployment priorities and that OPM will evaluate the impact after a year.

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