News from the Whitehouse: On March 18, 2016, President Obama signed into law Public Law 114-137. This new statute made some changes to federal civil service hiring procedures, although their potential effectiveness has been called into question.
Under preexisting procedures for competitive job selections, federal agencies first review job applications to determine which individuals meet the basic requirements for the position. These applicants are listed on a certificate of qualified applicants that is then passed on to the selecting official for further consideration (including possible interviews and hiring). This certificate gets used once for one selection process, and is then discarded and has to be done anew for any future vacancies–even ones where the same applicants are applying again.
Pub.L. 114-137 revises the procedure by allowing agencies the option to ‘reuse’ an existing certificate of qualified applicants for a future selection within 240 days, if the second selection is for a position in the same series and at a similar grade level. Agencies using this authority still have to give notice to allow internal applicants to apply for consideration as well. The statute is also subject to exceptions under union collective bargaining agreements and veterans’ preference requirements. According to the committee report (H.R. Rep. 114-367), the purpose of the new law is to “provide agencies with a method to streamline the hiring process.”
The Congressional Budget Office has issued a statement indicating skepticism of this new legislation, stating that “Based on information from the Office of Personnel Management, CBO expects that without a formal and structured human resources process to share assessments between agencies few managers would use this authority. Because the bill would not establish such a mechanism, CBO estimates that any implementation costs or savings would be insignificant.”
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