A measure, advanced by the Senate, would dramatically alter the federal hiring process and permanently boost the max buyout agencies can offer their employees. Included in the Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, hiring changes included stem from a bill the Senate panel cleared last year to enable the expedited hiring of applicants with college degrees.
The provision allows agency heads to circumvent normal hiring restrictions to bring on university students of those who have recently completed their degree. The agency leader could appoint a “qualified individual” to any competitive service, professional or administrative position at the level of GS-11 or below. Agencies would still be required to adhere to merit system principles and the appointments could not make up more than 15% of the number of similar jobs filled in the previous year.
Current students appointed under the new authority would serve on a temporary basis, but their agency head could hire them to a permanent position upon graduation. The Office of Personnel Management would be responsible for creating regulations for the new law and agencies would report annually on their use of the authority.
Another government-wide measure would enable agencies to pay up to $40,000 to employees opting to participate in a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program offer, increasing from the current max of $25,000, which has been the limit since 1993. Going forward, the NDAA would index the max buyout for inflation.
Several personnel provisions in the NDAA would only apply to the Defense Department:
- The Pentagon would no longer have to seek approval from OPM’s qualification review board for its Senior Executive Service appointments, instead, providing the secretary authority to elevate employees to top career civilian jobs. Defense would be capped at 50 of these appointments a year and the authority would relinquish after 2 years.
- The measure includes several provisions to create new or extend direct hire authorities for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics positions.
- The measure would continue direct hire authority for financial management experts.