OPM Authorizes Temporary Appointments For Trump Nominees

OPM has issued guidance to allow appointing Trump administration nominees to start working while awaiting Senate confirmation.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued guidance to agencies this week on Temporary Transition Schedule C appointments and Noncareer and Limited Term Senior Executive Service appointment authorities.

The purpose of the guidance is to make the transition to the Trump administration a smoother operation.

For more information on these temporary appointments and their limitations, refer to the OPM guidance memorandum.

Schedule C positions are excepted from the competitive service because of their confidential or policy-determining character. Most Schedule C positions are at GS-15 or below.

Schedule C positions above the GS-15 level are either in the Senior Level (SL) personnel system or are specifically authorized by law.  The Senior Executive Service (SES) is applicable to the highest-level executive, managerial, supervisory and some policy positions in agencies.

Temporary Transition Schedule C (TTC) Authority

After the inauguration on January 20, 2017, Federal Departments and Agencies are authorized by OPM to use the TTC authority for one year or when a new agency head is on duty – whichever period is later.  The number of TTC positions established by an agency cannot exceed either 50 percent of the highest number of permanent Schedule C positions filled in any one of the preceding five years, or three positions – whichever is greater.

Individual temporary appointments to these positions may be made for up to 120 days. It can be extended for 120 days without OPM approval.

Temporary Transition SES Appointing Authorities

Upon OPM authorization of an appointing authority, a Presidential nominee may receive a noncareer or limited term appointment to an SES position while awaiting Senate confirmation. This allows working at the agency for which the person has been nominated but cannot serve in the nominated position until confirmed by the Senate.

These individuals normally serve in an advisory or consultative capacity in another position until confirmed by the Senate.

Noncareer Appointments

Generally, no more than 10 percent of total SES positions Governmentwide may be filled by Noncareer appointees. The number of positions filled by Noncareer appointment in any given agency may be up to 25 percent of that agency’s total SES positions.

A higher limit applies to a few agencies and Congress has imposed a lower limit on a few agencies. These limits are still applicable.

OPM approves each use of a Noncareer authority by an agency. The authority reverts to OPM when the Noncareer appointee leaves the position.

Noncareer appointees may be appointed to any SES General position.  There is no requirement for competitive staffing. The agency head has to certify the appointee meets the qualifications requirements for the position.  Any Noncareer appointee may be removed by the appointing authority at any time. There are no appeal rights when the person is removed from a Noncareer appointment.

Temporary Noncareer SES Appointing Authorities for the Transition

To support the transition of the incoming Administration, OPM is delegating a temporary allocation of up to 5 Noncareer SES (NC SES) appointment authorities to all CABINET level agencies. There is also an allocation of up to 3 NC SES appointment authorities to all NON-CABINET level agencies. These are subject to the 25 percent or other applicable limit on noncareer appointments in the agency.

Each of these may be used for the time-limited noncareer appointment of an individual previously identified by the incoming Administration to an SES General position.

OPM notes the purpose of these authorities is supporting efficiency in establishing agency programs. They will also enable agencies to begin the pre-appointment background investigation process.

These NC SES authorities may NOT be used before the inauguration on January 20, 2017 or after January 30, 2017.

An individual’s employment under this authority may not exceed 21 days from the date of appointment. At that time, the appointment authority reverts to OPM.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47