DHS wants "disposable" direct hire authority


The Office of Personnel Management tends to look askance at agencies’ requests for direct hire authority to fill critical needs. OPM asks for reams of information and has some quite specific guidelines for agencies that want to sidestep the normal federal hiring process.

The Homeland Security Department, looking to hire federal employees to fill jobs currently done by contractors as part of the government “insourcing” initiative, is trying to tweak the system a bit in order to fill critical needs, DHS chief human capital officer Jeffrey Neal said yesterday at a congressional hearing.

DHS is asking OPM for something it calls “disposable direct hire authority,” meaning that DHS would fill positions via direct hire only once — to find someone to replace a contractor employee — and then go back to the normal process. Neal said DHS is “in talks” with OPM director John Berry about this proposal, which Neal sees as an innovative way to accelerate insourcing without compromising federal hiring practices too much.

The Obama administration’s push for federal hiring reform may be a key determinant of whether the parallel push to bring certain jobs back to federal employees is successful. “It’s clear the federal hiring process is one of the obstacles” to insourcing, Neal said.


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