At a time of dynamic change in the Office Of Personnel Management, President Bush announced his intent late last week to nominate Linda M. Springer to be OPM’s director, replacing Kay Coles James.
Springer recently served as controller and head of the Office of Federal Financial Management in the Office of Management and Budget before resigning in January. Prior to joining the administration, she was senior vice president and controller of Provident Mutual.
OPM is in the midst of vast changes and is the focal point of several initiatives – including its prominent role in changing and managing the personnel and pay reform efforts in the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. The agency is also in process of absorbing nearly 2,000 investigators from DoD as it officially takes over conducting background investigations for security clearances across the federal government.
The agency also announced last week it would be publishing new regulations to the Student Career Experience Program, which would allow students to credit certain non-federal internship service of military service toward the minimum time needed under a SCEP appointment to qualify for a permanent federal job.
“The proposed regulations to the SCEP support OPM’s efforts to give greater flexibility in hiring and retention efforts,” stated Acting Director Dan G. Blair. “We urge federal agencies to use this and other flexibilities to ensure their work forces are prepared to do the critical and demanding work of this new century.”
Proposed revisions include a provision that would allow an agency to credit up to 320 hours of job-related experience gained in other formal and comparable work-study programs toward SCEP requirements. The regulations also would allow an agency to credit job-related experience acquired by a degree-seeking student as an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States, including the National Guard and the Reserves. Lastly, the proposed regulations would permit an agency to waive up to one-half of the required SCEP work experience hours for those students who have exceptional job performance and academic excellence while enrolled in the program.
The Partnership for Public Service, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing public service, expressed support for the new initiative. Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership, said the program would help government better realize the benefits of internship programs.
“We salute OPM for providing young people with a clearer and less burdensome path toward public service.
Federal internship programs like SCEP offer students an excellent education in the challenges and rewards of public service and put them on a fast track to permanent employment. The interns gain valuable experience and exposure to the federal work environment, while the federal agencies benefit from the pool of talent internships provide, being able to evaluate potential employees in real time.
Historically, the government has not fully exploited the full benefits of internship programs, but today’s news shows that OPM is moving the ball in the right direction,” Stier said.