The Office of Personnel Management wants all federal human resource specialists that examine the capabilities of job applicants at their agencies to go through a new exam themselves, ensuring that they have the most up-to-date information on how to do their jobs.

The agency announced July 24 that all employees who perform delegated exams — meaning that they have been granted the authority by OPM to perform exams of job applicants’ competencies when seeking a position in the competitive service — participate in a new comprehensive certification program once their current certification expires.

The competitive service encapsulates a majority of the employee positions at federal agencies.

“The new Delegated Examining Certification Program, which will be effective immediately, requires all HR practitioners who are involved in delegated examining activities to pass a comprehensive certification assessment,” acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert wrote in a memo to federal chief human capital officers.

“Certification through the Delegated Examining Certification Program applies to federal employees, employees of government contractors that supply examining services to agencies and individuals employed on the basis of personal service contracts with an agency.”

According to the memo, the new certification program has been deemed central to the success of the President’s Management Agenda goal of promoting a 21st century workforce.

“Starting with certification expiring in April 2019, when delegated examining certification is coming up for renewal, federal employees and contractors must register to take the Delegated Examining Recertification Assessment. The current delegated examining recertification online course has been retired and replaced with the proctored, in-person assessment,” Weichert wrote.

“The recertification assessment tests knowledge and application of key delegated examining concepts, rules, and process steps. The assessment is web-based and administered in a proctored (in-person) setting at an independent testing facility with locations throughout the United States and abroad. Federal employees and contractors with delegated examining certification expiring in April through August 2019 will be automatically extended until Sept. 30, 2019. These individuals will have until Sept. 30, 2019, to take the recertification assessment, which will be available in August.”

Those that successfully complete the assessment will be certified for delegated examination authorities for three years, and certifications transfer with employees that move from one agency to another during that time.

In order to help feds working in HR to pass the exam, both individual agencies and OPM offer training courses, and the memo also suggests employees receive on the job training in the responsibilities and knowledge base required to perform delegated examinations.

“To aid HR practitioners in successfully passing the Delegated Examining Certification Assessment, the delegated examining training course has been updated and more scenario-based exercises and activities, including a capstone exercise, have been added,” Weichert wrote

“However, the OPM delegated examining training is no longer mandatory.”

Employees may also submit a request for an up to 90-day extension on their recertification deadline, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.