The Office of Personnel Management has enabled agencies to use special hiring authorities to bring on staff needed to support the Biden administration’s new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
In a Feb. 1 memo, OPM Director Kiran Ahuja told federal agencies that they can use excepted service Schedule A appointments to fill positions for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“The IIJA follows through on President Biden’s commitment to rebuilding America, investing in America, and Building a Better America,” Ahuja said. “Agencies need to hire now to fill a variety of essential positions including mission-driven roles: scientists to combat climate change, engineers to repair and rebuild our roads and bridges, and workers to help ensure that every community in America has clean water, just to name a few. These are exciting jobs, and they are critically important.”
Schedule A authorities allow agencies to hire temporary workers for one year and onboard them quickly by eliminating some red tape requirements. Appointments can be extended for up to an additional year, if needed. Ahuja had forecast that the federal government would be ramping up hiring to meet the demands of the new legislation in a December memo.
To help prepare for the rapid onboarding of new employees, OPM released a talent surge playbook to help agencies understand their hiring authorities. In the Feb. 1 memo, Ahuja noted that OPM had also surveyed agencies to understand their staffing needs for implementing the infrastructure law, authorized direct hire authority for human resources professionals, authorized flexibilities for critical hiring needs and launched a special Bipartisan Infrastructure Law jobs page on USAJOBS.
OPM previously used Schedule A appointments to fill a number of positions needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. That authority enabled agencies to hire approximately 2,000 feds from March to December 2020
Initially approved in March 2020, that authority was extended further in December. Federal agencies now have until June 30 of this year to use the authority for pandemic-related hiring.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.