The President’s temporary hiring freeze for civilian employees of the Federal Government is being implemented by the various departments, including the Department of Defense. The ban is not as simple as you might expect, since openings develop all the time in any organization. Some are incredibly vital to fill, while others are much less so.
The Department of Defense issued a detailed memo spelling out their procedural response to the President’s hiring freeze. There are two important bits of good news for federal job seekers.
The first involves people currently in the hiring process. People who received a job offer or appointment prior to January 22, and who have received documentation of a confirmed starting date on or before February 22 should report to work on that date.
The second and larger bit of good news is that the memo details the exemptions available and the process for obtaining an exemption. The Secretary has delegated the authority to grant an exemption to a number of offices throughout the department. Exemptions are detailed in several sections.
- Critical functions determined by the Secretary to be necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities. This includes fields as diverse as child care and cybersecurity.
- Exemptions to be determined, which may be for individual positions or groups. Justification for the exemption is required on a case-by-case basis.
- Exemptions required by law. This includes civilian employees returning from the uniformed services and those who have been on on an absence covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act.
- Actions taken without a grant of exemption are listed. This includes certain positions in the Senior Executive Service. For non-exempt positions, if hiring actions were initiated prior to January 22, they may continue. This includes drug testing and security clearance investigations.
- Certain actions do not require exemption but must be coordinated with the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. This category includes seasonal employees and short-term temporary employees.
Extensive reporting is required at all levels, covering existing manpower, exemptions granted and other moves made to meet personnel needs. Contractors may not be used to circumvent the ban. Some existing job offers may have to be revoked.
Civilian employees may be moved through noncompetitive reassignment or detail to ensure that the department’s highest priorities are met. However, civilian personnel cannot be moved from an exempt position to fill one covered by the ban.