April 3, 2020


Editor's note: This blog is authored by Alex Harrington, Julie Broadway, Chris Westbrook, and Treva Smith.

To see Civil Service positions directly related to COVID-19 hiring, check out USAJobs' coronavirus page here.

To help mitigate the rising tide of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) throughout the U.S., the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has empowered federal agencies to leverage existing special hiring authorities to help onboard new hires during this current national emergency.

In a memorandum by the OPM acting director, federal agencies are being authorized the “the use of excepted service appointments under 5 CFR 213.3102(i)(3) to address the need for hiring additional staff in response to the Coronavirus disease 2019.”

Federal agencies may use this exemption to recruit candidates on a temporary basis for up to one year as needed in response to, or as a result of, COVID-19.  While this gives agencies additional flexibility to recruit and hire, they must, however, hire candidates to only help with mitigation efforts against the coronavirus pandemic, and not for any other agency work.

Keep in mind that these exemptions are not new. OPM has had these types of hiring flexibilities for years. For instance, Schedule A (5 CFR 213.3102(i)(2)) may be used without OPM approval to fill critical positions for 30 days. These appointments may be extended for an additional 30 days so agencies can determine their longer-term needs in dealing with a pandemic. Further, federal agencies can use the following hiring flexibilities during this coronavirus pandemic:

  • Excepted service Schedule A appointing authority;
  • Reemploying Annuitants – agencies can bring back retirees to work to deal with emergency situations or to supplement a workforce during a pandemic;
  • Other positions for which OPM determines examining is impracticable (Schedule A—5 CFR 213.3102(i)(3)); and
  • Direct-Hire Authority – new agency-specific requests.

Some Agencies Continue to Recruit and Hire During COVID-19

Despite reports of hiring freezes in some agencies (Trump Administration Freezes Transportation Security Administration Hiring, Feb. 26, 2020, and Trump Freezes Hiring for Immigrant Services, Feb. 24, 2020), other agencies have continued to recruit and hire during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

  • CBP is still hiring during this national emergency caused by COVID-19. CBP is working diligently to bring personnel on board as efficiently as possible. For more information: https://www.cbp.gov/careers.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

  • The VA wants to rehire retired VA health care workers to help VA health care facilities bolster their medical staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. VA is especially looking for health care providers with interest and expertise in 1) Tele/virtual care, 2) Travel Nurse Corps, and 3) Direct patient care/support (at a VA medical center and/or outpatient clinic). Retired physicians, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, respiratory therapists and other medical professionals interested in helping can register online. For more information: https://www.vacareers.va.gov/

U.S. Postal Service (USPS)

  • The USPS hopes to hire retired employees and temporary workers to help with operations as the coronavirus takes a toll on their workforce. On Feb. 27 the “American Postal Workers Union and the Postal Service reached an agreement that would allow USPS to hire additional temporary employees through May 25” [Federal News Network]. For more information: https://about.usps.com/careers/.

Department of Defense & Intelligence Agencies

  • If you are interested in jobs within the Department of Defense, to date, OPM is still posting job announcements. To shape your job search, it may be useful to use the search feature, with terms such as Defense, Army, Air Force, Navy, in addition to the job title or series. Additionally, for information on opportunities within the Intelligence Community, please review intelligencecareers.gov for opportunities.

Potential Contracting Opportunities with Federal Agencies

For those who have been in career transition long before COVID-19 arrived, it can be very discouraging to learn that nearly 10 million additional Americans filed jobless claims in total: 6,648,000 by week ending March 28, 2020, and 3,341,000 job claims a week earlier. A big portion of these unemployed workers come from the hardest-hit industries by the coronavirus pandemic, such as "leisure and hospitality, mainly in food services and drinking places; notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction" (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation - March 2020).

However, there are some contracting companies that are supporting federal agencies in the fight against COVID-19. One can learn more about these companies by going to Indeed.com and typing "COVID-19" in the search box.

To keep up with the latest on the federal workforce and hiring, check out the following:

Please follow us on Twitter @FedCareer and join our Federal Career Connection LinkedIn Group or find us on Meetup at meetup.com/mbc-cnm.

Alex Harrington
Chair & Founder
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