OMB’s Guidance on Federal Hiring Freeze
On Monday January 23, 2017, President Trump issued a memorandum to all heads of executive departments and agencies implementing a hiring freeze for all new Federal civilian hires. “As part of this freeze, no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances.” The President exempted the military, and gave leaders of department and agencies authority to exempt positions critical to national security and public safety from the freeze to the extent required by mission needs.
The presidential memorandum threw many agencies into mass confusion with regard to hires that had been made at the start of this week, which also happened to be the start of a new pay period for most government agencies, and normally a time when new hires are on-boarded. It seems that agency employees who began their employment with a Federal agency this week will be okay to remain onboard, and agencies will be able to bring on board new employees for at least another pay period. The guidance get’s a little dicier for applicants who have been selected but who have not received a confirmed start date or whose start date falls after February 22, 2017.
On Thursday, Mark Sandy, acting Director for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), issued further guidance to further clarify the ambiguity of the original memorandum. Per OMB:
- “Departments and agencies are permitted to make reallocations to meet the highest priority needs, ensure that essential services are not interrupted, and ensure that national security is not affected.
- An individual who has received a job offer/appointment prior to January 22, 2017, and who has received documentation from the agency that specifies a confirmed start date on or before February 22, 2017, should report to work on that start date.
- If an individual has received a job offer/appointment prior to January 22, 2017, and has received documentation from the agency that specifies a confirmed start date after February 22, 2017, (or does not have a confirmed start date) the Agency head should review the position to determine whether the job offer/appointment should be revoked, or whether the individual should report to duty on an agreed upon start date. Agency heads should consider merit systems principles, essential mission priorities, and current agency resources and funding levels when making determinations about whether or not to revoke appointments.”
The President instructs the director of OMB in consultation with the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to recommend a long-term plan to reduce the overall size of the Federal workforce within 90 days of the memorandums issue date. The hiring freeze enacted through the memorandum expires upon the implementation of the OMB plan.
A tip to applicants…it may be best to avoid applying for positions at agencies like the EPA, or other similar entities.