Federal agencies may continue to hire short-term employees to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of this year, under guidance issued by the Office of Personnel Management March 29.

The Schedule A hiring authority, first approved March 20, 2020, enables agencies to hire new personnel at any grade level for one year with an optional one-year extension in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic or as a result of pandemic conditions.

That initial authority was formerly slated to end March 31, 2021, but OPM decided to extend the authority due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 continues to be a serious public health emergency. OPM recognizes the presence of this pandemic may continue to have a negative impact agencies’ ability to meet mission and/or hiring needs throughout 2021,” an OPM fact sheet on the authority states.

“The authority expires December 31, 2021. No new appointments may be made after this date. However, appointments made prior to December 31, 2021, may be extended beyond that date.”

Under this Schedule A authority, agencies are not required to fulfil public notice baselines that are normally mandated for federal jobs, but they must still follow veterans preference and background investigation requirements.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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