On 11 October, the federal Office of Personnel Management issued a government-wide direct hire appointing authority for agencies seeking to fill covered science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) positions. Among the occupations authorized for direct hire are general engineer (GS-0801), computer engineers (cybersecurity) (GS-0854), computer scientists (cybersecurity) (GS-15500), electronics engineers (cybersecurity) (GS-0855) and IT cybersecurity specialists (GS-2210). The hiring authorization spans STEM positions at federal pay grades 11-15 (12-15 for cyber positions).
According to OPM’s Acting Director Margaret Weichert, the announcement is designed to help agencies facing severe shortages of candidates and/or critical hiring needs in a variety of STEM fields, especially in cybersecurity and related positions.
A Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) enables an agency to hire, after public notice is given, any qualified applicant. It expedites hiring by eliminating the requirements for competitive rating and ranking of candidates with hiring preference for Veterans, and “rule of three” procedures which require consideration of at least three candidates.
According to the OPM directive, “Agencies must identify and use proper assessment tools for the positions being filled with these direct hire authorities to determine who is qualified for the covered positions. Agencies should not conduct additional rating to determine relative degrees of qualifications when using this authority. Agencies should assess applicants in the order in which the applications were received, and select any qualified applicant in an order that approximates order of receipt. Qualified candidates with veterans’ preference should be selected as they are found, just as any qualified non-preference eligible candidate would be.”