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Posted by on May 14, 2019

How to Make the Most of the New OPM Federal IT Hiring Authorities

How to Make the Most of the New OPM Federal IT Hiring Authorities

Last month, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a new final rule giving Federal Government agencies guidance for delegating the authority to hire new talent for high-demand and critical-shortage positions in IT and cyber talent quicker and faster through a new Direct Hire Authority (DHA).

So what will make this new direct hire authority any different than most other hiring authorities that agencies already have available to them now, when many of them are not used properly?

First off, the new rule grants agencies the authority to determine how and when their organizations need to use direct hire authority to fill certain IT positions, up-front. This is a significant shift from how the direct hire process is currently managed — requiring an agency to demonstrate a critical hiring need before they are able to authorize a direct hire authority, once approved.

If implemented successfully, agencies can work with their CIOs to use this new DHA to hire top IT talent for initial appointments for up to four years. Agencies will also have the option to extend appointments for up to another four years. And, Federal employees appointed under this authority can continue serving in another Federal agency beyond the initial eight years — provided they are still working in IT positions.

The new DHA aligns with two of the three goals outlined in the President’s Management Agenda (IT and People), and will help support building a Twenty-First Century Workforce by allowing agencies to bring  more modern IT skills into the Federal Government in a much quicker way.

Federal HR managers can best help prepare hiring managers to use the new DHA by developing effective internal agency management leadership training, and ensuring that they work together to consult on the very best strategies for filling critical tech shortages.

While OPM said that it will lead “interactive sessions” with hiring managers and human resources officers, there truly is no replacement for fostering effective and collaborative relationships within agencies and departments to determine how best to leverage this new DHA among the other tools available to meet critical IT hiring challenges.  

Additional customized resources are available online to help any Federal agency develop a strategic talent acquisition strategy aligned with workforce planning needs.


Mika J. Cross is a widely-acclaimed workplace expert, speaker, and innovator specializing in global workplace initiatives, culture change, strategic communications, performance and talent management, diversity/inclusion and employee engagement. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn

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