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.
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.