With new guidance released Thursday offering more direct hire authority to agencies, including in cybersecurity and IT areas, the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) is aiming to fill positions that are critical to meeting the missions of agencies, said OPM Deputy Director Michael Rigas during a Thursday interview with Government Matters.

“What we’ve done is looked at what GAO has identified as a number of occupations that they’ve determined are critical to the Federal government meeting its mission capabilities, and without the ability to fill these critical occupations, there are risks to the Federal government being able to accomplish its mission,” said Rigas.

He said the new direct hiring authorities, aimed at STEM and IT positions in the Federal government, will function much like other direct hiring authorities. “It’s an additional expansion on categories that agencies are able to hire for,” he said.

Rigas also hinted at the direct hiring authorities serving as a trial for similar efforts in the future.

“As we see with these initial hiring flexibilities what works, what doesn’t work, are there any unintended consequences that came as a result, we’ll be able to adjust and move forward for the next attempt to improve hiring in the Federal government,” he said.

When asked how OPM would measure the success of these new direct hiring authorities, Rigas said OPM will keep track of how agencies use their new abilities.

“What is the change in uptake, in terms of agencies being able to hire these critical occupations? We’ve identified what those occupations are … and once we compare future performance versus past performance, we’ll be able to get a sense for how successful these have been,” said Rigas.

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MeriTalk Staff