A far larger pool of former political appointees will need the stamp of approval from the Office of Personnel Management before landing career service positions, according to a new OPM policy announced Feb. 23, 2018.

The policy change is based on requirements in the Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015, which expand the definition of a “covered civil service position,” causing OPM to have a larger pre-appointment review coverage and data reporting obligation.

“To comply with the reporting requirements of the Transitions Act, the updated policy communicates a change to OPM’s previous policy, which excluded certain permanent appointments from OPM’s reappointment review process. The updated policy communicates that moving forward, OPM will review proposed selections of current or former political appointees to permanent positions involving noncompetitive and direct-hire appointments,” according to an OPM document detailing the policy change.

The OPM reviews are designed to prevent a politically appointed federal employee from receiving unfair advantage in the hiring process for a permanent, senior position.

Under the policy change, agencies must request OPM approval to appoint current or former political appointees that have served within the past five years in the following positions:

  • Political appointees requiring Senate confirmation (PAS);
  • Political appointees not requiring Senate confirmation (PA);
  • Political appointees, as defined under 5 U.S.C. sections 5312 through 5316 (this includes many secretaries, deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries and directors of agencies);
  • Political Schedule A (which includes presidential appointments without Senate confirmation and assistants to top-level federal officials)
  • Schedule C (appointees who keep a confidential or policy-determining relationship to their supervisor and agency head);
  • Noncareer SES;
  • Limited Term SES;
  • Limited Emergency SES;
  • Appointees serving in a political capacity under agency-specific authority; and
  • Provisional Political Appointments