More Hiring Freeze Questions Answered

Feb 22, 2017

A hiring freeze


A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump issued a hiring freeze in the federal government. Since then, there have been exemptions to that freeze announced. Now, even more questions are being answered. Below are a few more clarifications about the hiring freeze.

What Agencies CAN Still Do Under the Hiring Freeze

Agencies can still participate in recruitment fairs, post jobs, conduct interviews, and review applications for positions under the hiring freeze. However, they can’t make any job offers. The Office of Personnel Management said, “Agencies should consider the timing of posting new job openings for positions that are subject to the hiring freeze to help manage applicant expectations.” Also, they can continue recruitment efforts at their discretion but OPM encourages hiring managers to give regular updates to their applicants and candidates.

Senior Executive Service (SES)

Agencies can continue to submit qualification packages for SES candidates. OPM will continue to process Qualifications Review Board (QRB) certification packages or QRB moratorium exemption requests only if the agency tells OPM that it made an SES offer before noon on January 22, 2017.

Personnel Actions

Competitive promotions cannot be made unless the position in question is on the exemption list. Further, agencies can’t use merit promotion procedures to fill vacancies with candidates from inside or outside the agency’s workforce. However, agencies can reappoint, reassign, or promote an employee if the organization must act to comply with a decision from the Merit System Protection Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or third-party adjudicative agency. Also, agencies can’t hire re-employed annuitants during the freeze.


Employees with a term, temporary, or time-limited appointment may get an extension, only if the agency decides it needs those individuals to “meet the highest priority needs of the agency, ensure that essential services are not interrupted or maintain national security.”

Exemptions apply to most interns under the Pathways Program but don’t apply to interns appointed to an agency’s rolls. The exception is, “Interns secured via a contractual agreement with a third-party internship provider (e.g. interns from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities) are not appointed, and accordingly aren’t subject to the hiring freeze.”

Veterans Aren’t Exempted from the Hiring Freeze

While veterans are not currently exempted from the hiring freeze, a group of 22 lawmakers is wanting the freeze to exempt any veteran applying for a federal job. One lawmaker noted nearly 31 percent of federal employees are veterans, meaning 1 in 3 new hires in FY 2015 were veterans.

Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Mass) said, “President Trump’s federal hiring freeze not only hurts everyday Americans seeking a prompt response from a federal agency but also makes it difficult for veterans looking for employment in the federal government across the country. Veterans have earned their hiring preference and I am deeply concerned that the federal hiring freeze will disproportionately hurt America’s veterans.”

This bill would allow agencies to both fill vacancies with veterans and create new positions for them. The American Legion and Disabled American Veterans have endorsed this bill.

This hiring freeze may last roughly 90 days, or until the Office of Management and Budget develops a long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal workforce through attrition.

More guidance from OPM can be found here.

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