Management

OPM to suspend new SES board reviews

The Office of Personnel Management is looking to cool off the number of new senior executive service applications it receives until January.

In a Nov. 18 memo, acting OPM Director Beth Cobert said the agency will place a moratorium on processing of SES applications by the Qualifications Review Board until the Trump administration takes office in January.

The Qualifications Review Board is a three-member panel of senior executives who assess the Executive Core Qualifications of potential SES applicants as a final step before recommending them for certification.

The moratorium is seen as standard practice for a presidential transition to give new agency heads a chance to assess their offices and will go into effect on Dec. 7, the date that President Barack Obama asked his agency chiefs to resign.

"While a QRB moratorium is intended to preserve the prerogatives of an incoming agency head, this must be balanced against the need to ensure the continuity of agency operations during such transitions," Cobert said in the memo.

OPM had previously released guidance throughout the year requiring oversight for the SES approval process to prevent an excessive number of political appointees from converting to senior executive jobs, a practice known as "political burrowing."

The moratorium is not connected to the political burrowing guidance and Cobert noted that applications for positions of immediate need may still be processed.

"Accordingly, OPM will consider requests for exceptions to the governmentwide QRB moratorium on a case-by-case basis," she said.

"Requests for exceptions should be signed by the agency head or the official who is designated to act in the agency head’s absence and must specifically address the potential for adverse impact on national security, homeland security or a critical agency mission, program or function if a particular SES candidate is not immediately certified."

Agency heads who were not required to resign may also still submit SES applications to the QRB during the moratorium.

Candidates that have completed an OPM-approved SES Candidate Development Program may also have their applications processed during the moratorium.

QRB review will resume once a new agency head is in place. Cases held in moratorium must be submitted to OPM within 120 days of the new agency chief taking office.

The QRB moratorium guidance

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