The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) explained in an Oct. 23 memo to Federal agency heads how it wants them to implement President Trump’s controversial executive order that creates a new Schedule F classification for employees in policy-making positions, but emphasized that OPM retains the final say in approving which employees are placed under the new schedule.

The memo from OPM Acting Director Michael Rigas directs agency heads “to review positions within his or her agency and identify those positions appropriately categorized as confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating, and then petition OPM to place those positions in Schedule F.” The memo says that agency heads have 90 days to conduct preliminary review of positions and submit petitions, then another 120 days to finalize reviews and submit remaining petitions.

Rigas characterized the Schedule F petition descriptions in the memo as “guideposts” that are not determinative.

“Agencies may include positions based on additional characteristics not expressly specified in section 5 in their petitions, and OPM may except those positions so long as the agency demonstrates that the position is of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character,” Rigas said. “Conversely, OPM is not required to transfer positions to Schedule F simply because they fall within the section 5 guideposts.”

“OPM retains final authority over which categories and types of positions will be placed in Schedule F,” Rigas emphasized.

The memo also tells agency heads that “objective definition of the position’s duties must be derived from a statute, regulation, or internal agency document such as the position description. To ensure placement into Schedule F satisfies procedural due process, the individualized characteristics and attributes of the particular employee encumbering a position are irrelevant to whether the underlying position or office itself is appropriately categorized into Schedule F.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.