OPM will survey agencies for STEM, cybersecurity direct hire authority

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The Office of Personnel Management is moving forward with its plans to provide direct hire authority for in-demand technology jobs, and it’s asking federal agencies for help.

OPM Director Jeff Pon said in a memo that the office would soon be surveying agency leaders about the challenges they face in hiring professionals for cybersecurity and STEM-based positions to determine how to apply new hire authorities.

Pon has previously discussed his plans to recruit talent for the competitive positions, which have included providing agencies more flexibility to suspend the use of veterans’ preference and “Rule of Three” policies for STEM and cybersecurity jobs.

Those policies require agencies to rank qualified military veterans alongside nonveteran job seekers and award a job to one of the top three candidates based on a scoring system.

The goal of the surveys, Pon said, was to determine the best strategies to apply direct hire authority and would be used in combination with an OPM review of governmentwide employment data.

“The data we need will be both qualitative and quantitative — to get a better picture of how the hiring process is working today, and better understand any challenges you may indicate you have encountered in trying to recruit for these positions,” he said.

The surveys are expected to roll out in the coming weeks, the memo said, and Pon called on agency leaders to “respond honestly, thoughtfully and promptly.”

Some estimates have placed the national labor shortage for cybersecurity positions alone at 285,000, and the President’s Management Agenda calls for new recruitment and reskilling efforts to fill those gaps.

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cybersecurity workforce, IT Modernization, Jeff Pon, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), President's Management Agenda (PMA), STEM, workforce