The federal government has ramped up its hiring efforts in recent months to onboard and shuffle federal employees to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some of those new federal employees will not be sticking around for long.
Over 150 of the 500 COVID-specific jobs listed on the federal hiring website, USAJobs, are planned as temporary positions, some capped at just 120 days on the job.
Although a majority of the temporary positions are open to the public, around two dozen are designed exclusively for current or former federal employees and veterans. Four such positions are also available to military spouses, and 19 of the listed temporary positions are open to those eligible for veterans preference.
Negotiations between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees have continued for over a year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted particular challenges.
A majority of the temporary positions currently available are listed under the medical and healthcare classification, though agencies are also seeking employees for IT positions as large sections of their workforces have moved to remote work.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has the highest need for COVID-19 hires, both in temporary and permanent positions. The agency currently has 190 coronavirus-related job postings up on USAJobs, with 129 of those positions listed under temporary status.
But the agency has long faced staffing challenges unrelated to the pandemic, as both employee unions and members of Congress have criticized the agency’s leadership for failing to fill the tens of thousands of vacancies it currently faces.
The VA currently has over 3,800 positions listed on USAJobs, over half of which are for roles in the medical and healthcare field.
Current federal employees may also have the opportunity to rotate into other open positions needed for COVID-19 response so that agencies can adjust the workforce they already have to better respond to immediate needs.