Wednesday, March 04, 2015


Federal employees eligible to apply for a job under a merit promotion posting are also allowed to apply for that job under the DEU posting. Because current employees understand how applications are judged, and because they often have relevant and easily evaluated experience, they have a good chance of being among the best qualified candidates and being referred on the DEU certificate. When they are, they usually also appear on the categorical listing of best qualified candidates on the merit promotion certificate---if, as is frequently the case, they have applied under those procedures.

Therefore, DEU officials say that the practice of allowing current Federal employees to apply for job vacancies under both procedures decreases the effectiveness of the DEU certificate as a tool for bringing in people from outside the Government. For example, one DEU official at the Department of Veterans Affairs told us that in her agency current Federal employees with veterans’ preference rights are applying for jobs under both procedures because these employees expect that their job-related experience and veterans’ preference status will help them make the DEU certificate and simultaneously keep others from doing so. She noted that nearly half of the applicants for jobs announced by her DEU were current agency employees with veterans’ preference status. She said that these applicants almost invariably were referred on both the merit promotion and the DEU certificates, virtually preventing the DEU certificates from including any applicants who were not already on the merit promotion certificates.

Eliminate Dual Consideration. 
Another way to increase the utility of DEU certificates is to no longer allow current employees to be considered under a DEU posting if they are eligible to apply for the same job under a merit promotion posting. Supervisors seeking a DEU certificate in addition to a merit promotion certificate do so because they want to see if, in addition to the names on the merit promotion certificate, there are any other qualified candidates worth considering. The supervisors may ultimately decide to hire a merit promotion candidate, but they want the opportunity to consider individuals outside the agency. DEU officials say that supervisors frequently do not get that chance because agencies routinely allow at least some current Federal employees to apply under both postings.

But current employees eligible to apply under a merit promotion posting already have the right to be considered for the position. And if they can also apply under the DEU posting, their presence on a DEU certificate generally will not increase the number of candidates referred to the supervisor. This is so because those current employees will probably also be included in the categorical listing of best qualified candidates on the merit promotion certificate. Management should take a look at whether allowing some employees to apply under both sets of procedures is having a negative impact in their agencies on the ability of supervisors to consider candidates who are not eligible to apply under the merit promotion posting. If it is, they should consider eliminating the practice.10 Moreover, except for keeping others from being considered, the value to current employees of making both certificates is not significant since current employees prefer not to be selected from DEU certificates. Such a selection offers no advantage over selection from a merit promotion certificate, and unlike the latter type of selection, selection from a DEU certificate is considered to be a new appointment that, with some exceptions, can be summarily terminated during the probationary period.

Agencies have broad authority to structure their delegated examining as they see fit, and there is no law that specifically forbids adopting a rule curtailing the practice of allowing employees who can apply under a merit promotion posting from being able to apply under a DEU posting. But neither is there any law that specifically allows for the adoption of such a rule. Therefore, it would be clearer that agencies had this right if delegated examining agreements were amended to specifically allow agencies to preclude current employees eligible to apply for a job under merit promotion procedures from being able to apply for that same job under DEU procedures.

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