employee data (kentoh/Shutterstock.com)

Trump signs order updating federal hiring practices

On June 26, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to update their job qualification standards and candidate assessments.

Under the Executive Order on Modernizing and Reforming the Assessment and Hiring of Federal Job Candidates, federal agencies must update federal job qualification standards and candidate assessments with merit-based reforms that will broaden the civil service and build a more demand-driven labor force.

“Unnecessary degree requirements exclude otherwise qualified Americans from Federal employment, impose the expense of college on prospective workers, and disproportionately harm low-income Americans,” administration officials said in a statement.

The effort aims to bring federal hiring on par with that of private-sector firms, which use skills- and competency-based hiring. As a result of the order, “talented individuals with apprenticeships, technical training, and apt backgrounds will have greater opportunity to pursue careers in the Federal civil service,” the White House said.

“I'm taking a bold action to reform the federal workforce,” Trump said at the order’s signing. “Today I'll sign an executive order that directs the federal government to replace outdated -- and really outdated -- it's called ‘degree-based hiring’ -- with skill-based hiring. So we want it based on skill.”

According to the executive order, the Office of Personnel Management, working with the Office of Management and Budget director and agency heads, has 120 days to  review and revise job classification and qualification standards to ensure that agencies require a minimum educational standard for employment “only when a minimum educational qualification is legally required to perform the duties of the position in the State or locality where those duties are to be performed” and when “the candidate’s education directly reflects the competencies necessary to satisfy that qualification and perform the duties of the position.”

Additionally, job descriptions should be based on the specific skills and competencies required to perform those jobs, rather than focusing on a college degree.

To improve the use of assessments in hiring, OPM will work with agencies to ensure that their assessment of candidates “does not rely solely on educational attainment”  to determine if they have the ability to do the job. Further, agencies may not “rely solely on candidates’ self-evaluations of their stated abilities,” the order said.  “Applicants must clear other assessment hurdles in order to be certified for consideration.”

“The federal government will no longer be narrowly focused on where you went to school, but the skills and the talents that you bring to the job. We want that skill to be there,” Trump said at the order’s signing. “We want it based on merit.”

Reader comments

Thu, Sep 10, 2020

I like to see the comment where a "degree" makes you have more competency than the person without a degree. That is an absolutely false statement. As I sit here and think about a very particular supervisor that has said "degree" but cannot write a pd and was coached by LMER (cpac) during grievance procedures and mind you are "supposed" to remain neutral parties so what good is that degree again? Oh and still lost the grievance proceeding. That degree helped so much....

Thu, Sep 10, 2020

What is the resolution for lower graded employees training those in higher positions that did the whole expertly qualified individual on the questionnaire. How about those being promoted over the employees that have been there doing the job they were hired to do before they were hired? Very obvious that the "good ole boys" are still *** the system over and bringing their unqualified friends into positions they don't belong in because they are not qualified jist because they have a masters!

Thu, Jul 30, 2020

A college degree does not confer qualifications for a job, but it does establish a baseline level of competency. One must have a certain level of discipline to complete a four year degree, and more so for graduate level work. If you think the federal workforce is incompetent now, I can't wait to see the disaster it is about to become. If you want to be treated like a professional, have professional credentials. Nobody would see a doctor who was hired based on life's experience. This has disaster written all over it, and will allow cronies to appoint their unqualified friends into key government roles for the final nails in the coffin of any semblance of professionalism in the federal government.

Tue, Jul 28, 2020 Mary California

I have worked for the FS as a seasonal employrr in the wildlife department for 32 years, and when I applied for a GS-0486 Wildlife Biologist, they said I didn't qualify because I was missing a class or two, but they wouldn't tell me which one. I train most of the biologists that come into our department, but don't qualify as a Biologist? Hopefully this will help me.

Mon, Jul 13, 2020 ItsBeginning2020 Bend, Oregon

So thankful! I started seeing in Oregon jobs for Secretary where a degree was required? Anyone who has a problem with this is part of the problem! So many Veterans complain about the VA- why? Civilians with college degrees are running the place. Hmmmm THANK YOU President Trump for allowing those of us who have served and not just sat in a desk for 4 years- the opportunity to be hired! Not all of us want to use College benefits. It's not for everyone.

Show All Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

2020 Digital Almanac

Stay Connected

Latest Forum Posts

Ask the Expert

Have a question regarding your federal employee benefits or retirement?

Submit a question