The Office of Personnel Management has issued a new regulation that will allow federal agencies to rehire staff at a higher pay grade.
The measure is intended to broaden the choice of talent available to agencies and to provide a route for former federal employees to re-enter government in a position with an analogous skill level, after a spell working in the private sector.
It comes as government departments continue to look for new ways to hire technology talent into senior positions.
OPM says that the guidance will also increase knowledge-sharing between private enterprise and government agencies. The new regulation was published on Tuesday in the Federal Register as a final rule document.
However, some agencies and unions have raised concerns, saying it may be abused and potentially erode the bargaining power of staff.
In its Federal Register entry, OPM said seven individuals, two federal agencies, and the Federal Employees’ Union had submitted evidence to say that the hiring authority may be abused, and questioned the fairness of allowing former federal employees to re-enter the workforce in this way.
Two individuals and three federal agencies also questioned OPM’s assertion that former employees would actually acquire skills or experience in the private sector that would qualify them for such an appointment.
According to OPM, seven individuals, four federal agencies, one professional organization, and the Federal Employees’ Union also in evidence said that the proposal is contrary to merit system principles and would deprive certain employees to their collectively bargained right to first consideration.
In 2019, the Trump Administration gave a final ruling on direct-hire authority for key IT positions, which gave agency leaders the authority to sidestep typically long federal hiring processes, if there is a shortage of applicants or critical need.
That direct-hire rule gave agencies permission to hire IT professionals for limited terms of up to four years, with an option to extend those measures for another four.