Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Excepted Service Appointments Often Reduce Competition

 Excepted service appointments are exempted from the competitive examining process when competitive examining is deemed impracticable for the position or agency (e.g., policy-advocating, intelligence, or undercover work).

Although competitive examining is still the primary single hiring authority in Government, its use is declining. The Central Personnel Data File shows that in 2001, competitive examining was used for 41 percent of hires into professional, administrative, and technical positions (full-time, non-temporary). In 2004, it was only used for 22 percent of these hires. Overall, competitive examining was used for less than one-third (29 percent) of the total hires between 2001 and 2004.

 Part of the explanation for the decline in competitive examining is the increase in new excepted service and other appointing authorities over the same time period. For instance,

 the Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP), an excepted service authority, was established in July 2000 to streamline the process of bringing new talent into Government.

the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 placed the newly federalized security screener workforce into the excepted service.

The Chief Human Capital Officers Act of 2002 (Title XIII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002) also provided agencies with direct hire authority for jobs in which there is a severe shortage of candidates or a critical hiring need.

Some excepted service authorities provide a gateway into the competitive service through noncompetitive conversion.  Examples of such authorities include the FCIP, Veterans Recruitment Authority, Presidential Management Fellows Program, and the Student Career Experience Program.

A noncompetitive conversion is an appointment to a position in the competitive service that is not made by selection from an open competitive examination. By converting an excepted service employee, the employee receives “competitive status.” Therefore, the employee is eligible for future noncompetitive assignments (such as promotion, transfer, or reinstatement) without ever having to compete with members of the general public in an open competitive examination.

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