In an effort to increase the science, technology, engineering, math and cyber talent in the federal workforce, the Office of Personnel Management will be investigating whether it can justify direct hire authority for such positions, according to a May 23, 2018, memo released by OPM Director Jeff Pon.

OPM has the ability to issue direct hire authorities to help federal agencies fill critical vacancies or address a severe shortage of candidate for those agencies, but the authority must also comply with applicable statutory and regulatory criteria.

To assess whether direct hire for STEM jobs would apply, OPM will be distributing surveys to chief human capital officers on their experience hiring for such positions.

“The data we need will be both qualitative and quantitative — to get a better picture of how the hiring process is working today, and better understand any challenges you may indicate you have encountered in trying to recruit for these positions,” wrote Pon.

OPM has issued five governmentwide direct hiring authorities that are currently applicable:

  • Certain medical positions, such as nurses and pharmacists
  • IT management and security positions above a certain pay grade
  • Positions involved in Iraqi reconstruction efforts
  • Federal acquisition positions covered under Title 41 of U.S. Code
  • Veterinary medical officers

Technology-related positions have frequently been the subject of OPM attention, as agencies have long struggled to fill out such positions.