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OPM fast-tracks hiring to address coronavirus

The federal government is fact-tracking hiring in response to the coronavirus emergency.

In a March 20 memo sent to agency heads, Michael Rigas, recently named acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, said that departments would able to use Schedule A excepted service appointments fill positions for up to one year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Agencies may appoint individuals nationwide, at any grade level," Rigas wrote.

“These appointments may be extended up to 1 additional year. If this public health emergency or pandemic continues, agencies may also request extensions of appointments beyond 24 months from OPM on a case-by-case basis.”

The new hiring authority is effect until March 31, 2021 or until the coronavirus is no longer considered a public emergency, according to Rigas’s memo.

Since President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus a public emergency on March 13, agencies have scrambled to put together alternative work plans to ensure continuity of operation.

On March 15, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo urging department heads to consider extending "maximum telework capabilities" to all of their workers, regardless of prior arrangements.

Union leaders and workers alike have reported that some departments have been resistant to allowing them to work from home or their networks have been unable to fully support thousands of remote users at one time.

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