Do You Know the Definitions of the Federal Government Hiring Authorities?

The federal government hiring authorities cover the topics necessary when dealing with federal employment. Topics include the competitive hiring process, Excepted Service, Senior Executive Service, Veteran hiring requirements, as well as special hiring authorities for Veterans, students, interns, and graduates. The following government glossary of terms provides definitions and a brief explanation.

Competitive Service

The Competitive Service consists of Civil Service positions in the executive branch of the federal government with a few exceptions, as defined in Section 2102 of Title 5, United States Code (5 U.S.C. 2102). In the Competitive Service, applicants must compete (as the term implies) for their positions through a competitive hiring process. This process is open to all applicants eligible to apply.

This hiring process may consist of a written examination, evaluation of education and experience, and possibly an evaluation of specific attributes and qualifications deemed necessary for successful performance in the position.

Excepted Service

The Excepted Service differs from the Competitive Service in that these positions are by appointment within the Civil Service. In other words, they do not confer Competitive Status. There are many ways to be appointed into the Excepted Service.

You can be appointed under an authority as defined by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), such as Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA). This appointment authority will be discussed further in the special hiring authorities for Veterans section below. For more information about the excepted service, please refer to 5 U.S.C. 2103 and parts 213 and 302 of title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Senior Executive Service

The Senior Executive Service (SES) was at the center of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. The SES is a corps of executives known and selected for their leadership experience and potential. These men and women continue to lead and execute the daily transformation of the federal government—leaders with proven executive experience and a commitment to public service with the constitution as their guide.

Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans

This is a hiring authority designed specifically for Veterans. If you are a Veteran searching for federal employment, then this will likely enhance your job search. However, Veterans are not entitled to appointment under this authority (unless under the Veterans Recruitment Appointment). The specific vacancy announcement will state who is eligible to apply.

What is VRA? The Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) allows agencies to appoint eligible Veterans without competition. You must have been separated under honorable conditions AND meet certain other criteria. (Navigate to the FedsHIREVets website for additional information.)

In addition to the VRA, there is more information about special hiring authorities for Veterans including Veterans Employment Opportunity Act of 1998 (VEOA), 30% or More Disabled Veteran program, Disabled Veterans Enrolled in a VA Training Program, and the Schedule A Appointing Authority.

Direct Hire Authority

At times, federal agencies may experience a situation such as a severe shortage of candidates or a critical hiring scenario. This authority assists the agency in determining whether a direct hire is the best course of action to meet the recruitment needs at a particular point in time. They also assist with acquiring direct hires and the actions necessary using the competitive process and examination procedures. Click here for more information on Direct Hire Authorities.

Students and Recent Graduates

Collectively, the Pathways Program consists of the Internship Program, Recent Graduates Program, and the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program. These were established under Executive Order 13562 signed on December 27, 2010.

The Internship Program provides students from high schools to colleges and trade schools and other qualifying institutions with the opportunity for a federal internship. These are paid opportunities to explore federal careers while working in participating government agencies.

With the goal of promoting potential careers in the Civil Service, the Recent Graduates Program provides real work experience in the federal government. The graduate must have graduated with a degree in the past two years from a qualifying institution. Applicants must apply within two years of degree completion. Veterans, however, have up to six years after completion of their degree to apply for the program.

The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program is the federal government’s premier leadership development program for candidates with a Master’s or professional degree. The program now allows applicants who have received the qualifying degree within the past two years. With Executive Order 13562, the PMF experience is a much more substantive and satisfying experience for participants.

Part-Time and Job Sharing

Legislation encouraging part-time employment and job sharing in the federal government has been in place since 1978; proof that part-time employment is a valued resource.

There are numerous reasons why an employee might prefer a part-time working arrangement, including pursuit of an education, volunteer activity in the community, or unexpected family demands, just to name a few.

Both the employee and the employer will benefit from a part-time scenario. The benefits to an employer are:

  • Attract or retain highly qualified employees or those with special skills who may not be able to or may not want to work a full-time schedule
  • Serve as a performance incentive
  • Increase employee effectiveness
  • Provide work coverage during recurring workload surges
  • Reduce employment expenditures when employees voluntarily reduce their work schedules
  • Support agency Affirmative Action goals.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is committed to assisting federal agencies with effective use of part-time employment and job-sharing activity in the workplace.

Everything You Need to Know

The OPM provides everything you need to know about the federal government hiring authorities. Click here to find out more. If you’re in the middle of your federal job search and need assistance with the hiring process, click here for more information.

(Source: Office of Personnel Management/Hiring Authorities)

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