Issue Briefs

Following is OPM’s recent statement of regulatory goals for the year.

Statement of Regulatory Priorities

The Office of Personnel Management’s mission is to ensure the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce. OPM fulfills that mission by, among other things, providing human capital advice and leadership for the President and Federal agencies; delivering human resources policies, products, and services; and holding agencies accountable for their human capital practices. OPM’s 2011 regulatory priorities are designed to support these activities.

Pay System for Senior Professionals(SL/ST)

OPM proposes to amend rules for setting and adjusting pay of senior-level (SL) and scientific and professional (ST) employees. The Senior Professional Performance Act of 2008 changed pay for these employees by eliminating their previous entitlement to locality pay and providing instead for rates of basic pay up to the rate payable for level III of the Executive Schedule (EX-III), or if the employee is under a certified performance appraisal system, the rate payable for level II of the Executive Schedule (EX-II). Consistent with this statutory emphasis on performance-based pay, these regulations will provide more flexible rules for agencies to set and adjust pay for SL and ST employees based primarily upon individual performance, contribution to the agency’s performance, or both, as determined under a rigorous performance appraisal system.

Managing Senior Executive Performance

OPM proposes to revise the regulations addressing the performance management of Senior Executives to provide for a Governmentwide appraisal system built around the Executive Core Qualifications and agency mission results. During fiscal year 2011, the President’s Management Council (PMC) sponsored several workgroups to address various SES-related issues. One of the recommendations from the work group on SES appraisal system certification, and supported by the PMC, the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, OPM, and OMB, was the creation of a Governmentwide appraisal system for the SES to support and facilitate interagency consistency and mobility of this Governmentwide corps. The new regulations will provide a common structure and basic requirements, while allowing flexibility to address agency-specific needs.

Recruitment, Relocation, and Retention Incentives

In OPM’s continuing effort to improve the administration and oversight of recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives, OPM anticipates issuing final regulations to improve oversight of group recruitment incentive determinations and all retention incentives, add succession planning to the list of factors that an agency may consider before approving a retention incentive, and provide that OPM may require data on recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives from agencies on an annual basis. These regulations will help support OPM’s efforts to ensure agencies actively manage their incentive programs so that they continue to be cost-effective compensation tools.

Benefits for Reservists and Their Family Members

OPM anticipates issuing final regulations to implement section 565(b)(1) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 (Pub. L. 111-84, Oct. 28, 2009) that amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions at 5 U.S.C. 6381 to 6383 to add qualifying exigencies to the circumstances or events that entitle Federal employees to up to 12 administrative workweeks of FMLA unpaid leave during any 12-month period. The final regulations would amend OPM’s current regulations at part 630, subpart L, to cover qualifying exigencies when the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on covered active duty in the Armed Forces or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty. OPM proposes eight categories of qualifying exigencies: Short-notice deployments, military events and related activities, childcare and school activities, financial and legal arrangements, counseling, rest and recuperation, post-deployment activities, and additional activities not encompassed in the other categories when the agency and employee agree they qualify as exigencies, including the timing and duration of the leave.

Suitability Reinvestigations

OPM anticipates issuing final regulations modifying suitability regulations to assist agencies in carrying out new requirements to reinvestigate individuals in public trust positions under Executive Order 13488, Granting Reciprocity on Excepted Service and Federal Contractor Employee Fitness and Reinvestigating Individuals in Positions of Public Trust, to ensure their continued employment is appropriate. The proposed rule was originally published on November 3, 2009, at 74 FR 56747, with the comment period ending on January 4, 2010. A new notice was provided on November 5, 2010, at 75 FR 68222 to provided additional information relative to the scope of reinvestigations for public trust positions in order to allow for further comment as to reinvestigation frequency.

Designation of National Security Position

OPM anticipates issuing final regulations regarding designation of national security positions. The proposed rule was published on December 14, 2010, at 75 FR 77783, as one of a number of initiatives OPM has undertaken to simplify and streamline the system of Federal Government investigative and adjudicative processes to make them more efficient and as equitable as possible. The purpose of the revised rule is to clarify the requirements and procedures agencies should observe when designating national security positions as required under Executive Order 10450, Security Requirements for Government Employment. The regulations will clarify the categories of positions, which by virtue of the nature of their duties have the potential to bring about a material adverse impact on the national security, whether or not the positions require access to classified information. The regulations also will acknowledge, for greater clarity, complementary requirements set forth in part 731, Suitability, so that every position is properly designated with regard to both public trust risk and national security sensitivity considerations. Finally, the rule will clarify when reinvestigation of individuals in national security positions is required.


OPM proposes to issue regulations based on the Executive Order (E.O.) 13562 “Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates” issued December 27, 2010. This E.O. established the concept of Pathways Programs to promote employment opportunities for students and recent graduates in the Federal workforce, as well as provides an exception to the competitive hiring rules. The Pathways Programs consist of three discrete excepted service internships programs for students and recent graduates: The Internship Program; the Recent Graduates Program; and the Presidential Management Fellows Program. The E.O. also established a new excepted service Schedule D in the Code of Federal Regulation (5 CFR).

Hiring Reform—Recruitment, Selection, and Placement (General) Job Announcement and Applicant Notification

OPM proposes to amend the regulations concerning the content of a job announcement. We are also proposing to add regulations to require Federal agencies to notify applicants at key stages in the hiring process; to require agencies to use alternative valid assessment tools, excluding lengthy written essays or narratives of knowledge, skills, and abilities/competencies, and to require agencies to accept cover letters and résumés as the initial application for a Federal job. With these changes, OPM plans to streamline the Federal hiring process and improve an applicant’s experience.

Schedule A—Elimination of Job Readiness Certification for People With Disabilities

OPM proposes to amend its regulations on the appointment of persons with mental retardation, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities. The proposed changes will eliminate the certification of job readiness requirement for people with mental retardation, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities using the Schedule A appointment authority.

Noncompetitive Appointment of Certain Former Overseas Employees

OPM is issuing a proposed regulation to clarify that an employee’s same-sex domestic partner qualifies and should be treated as a family member for purposes of eligibility for noncompetitive appointments based on overseas employment, as provided in section 315.608 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations. These regulations implemented, in part, a June 2, 2010, Presidential Memorandum by providing same-sex domestic partners with the same employment opportunities that opposite-sex spouses of Federal employees receive under 5 CFR 315.608.

Multi-State Exchanges; Implementations for Affordable Care Act Provisions

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is proposing to implement regulations for the provisions of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 in order for OPM to contract with at least two multi-State plans for the Affordable Insurance Exchanges to be offered in 2014.