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03/18/2004
MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
From:

KAY COLES JAMES
Director

Subject:
Appointments and Awards During the 2004 Presidential Election Period

I hope you'll never take the honor of public service for granted.  Some of us will serve in government for a season; others will spend an entire career here. But all of us should dedicate ourselves to great goals:  We are not here to mark time, but to make progress, to achieve results, and to leave a record of excellence.

                                                                        

                                                                              George W. Bush

                                                                              President of the United States

                                                                              Constitution Hall

                                                                              October 15, 2001

 

As the 2004 Presidential election period approaches, I wish to remind all agency heads of the need to ensure that agency personnel actions remain free of political influence or other improprieties and meet all relevant civil service laws, rules, and regulations.  All official personnel records should clearly document the continued adherence with Federal merit principles and remain free of any prohibited personnel practices.  In particular, the appointments of Schedule C and Noncareer Senior Executive Service (SES) employees to competitive service positions require careful attention to ensure that they comply with the merit principles regarding fair and open competition.

 

As the Office of Personnel Management has done in the past, I am instituting a requirement for the pre-appointment review of all competitive service appointment actions that involve the appointment or conversion of a Schedule C or Noncareer SES employee.  In addition, OPM will continue to conduct merit staffing reviews of proposed SES selections of Schedule C or Noncareer SES appointees before they are formally presented to a Qualifications Review Board for certification of their executive qualifications.

 

I have attached additional guidance concerning competitive service and SES appointments, incentive awards, and other employment matters, as well as instructions for submitting requests for pre-appointment review.  If you have questions or are in need of any further information, please contact me at (202) 606-1000.  Staff inquiries should be referred to your agency’s OPM Human Capital Officer.

 

Attachments

 

cc:        Chief Human Capital Officers

            Human Resources Directors

 

Guidelines on Processing Certain Appointments and Awards During the 2004 Election Period


The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Federal agencies share basic responsibility for ensuring that all personnel actions adhere to the Federal merit principles at 5 U.S.C. 2301 and remain free of any prohibited personnel practices set forth at 5 U.S.C. 2302. During an election period, these requirements warrant particularly close attention. OPM has provided guidance concerning the special considerations that apply during an election period to ensure that all agency personnel actions adhere faithfully to these principles. This guidance specifies those personnel actions that require particular attention and establishes procedures for the pre-appointment review of certain competitive service appointment actions before they are effected.

I. Appointing Excepted Service Employees to the Competitive Service

OPM will conduct a pre-appointment review of the following competitive service appointment actions to ensure that they comply with all applicable civil service laws, rules, and regulations. In no case may an agency make an appointment covered by this section prior to receiving specific authorization from OPM.

  1. Proposed competitive service appointment actions that involve a current or former (within the last 5 years) incumbent of an executive branch position excepted from the competitive service under Schedule C.
  1. Proposed competitive service appointment actions that involve a current or former (within the last 5 years) Noncareer Senior Executive Service (SES) appointee.

    Note: Schedule C employees may not be detailed to competitive service positions without prior OPM approval [see 5 CFR 300.301(c)] and no competitive service vacancy should be created for the sole purpose of selecting a Schedule C or Noncareer SES employee.

Agencies should use the attached Pre-Appointment Review Record of Proposed Competitive Service Appointment to request OPM review of a competitive service appointment action involving a Schedule C or Noncareer SES employee.

II. Appointing Employees to the Senior Executive Service

OPM will continue to conduct merit staffing reviews of proposed SES selections that involve a current or former Schedule C or Noncareer SES appointee before such cases are formally presented to a Qualifications Review Board. Agencies should carefully review all actions which would result in the Career SES appointment of a Schedule C or Noncareer SES before such cases are forwarded to OPM.

Note: All SES vacancies to be filled by initial Career appointment must be publicly announced (5 CFR 317.501). Only a Career SES or career-type non‑SES appointee may be detailed to a Career-Reserved position (5 CFR 317.903(c)).

In addition, OPM may suspend the processing of Qualifications Review Board cases when an Agency Head leaves office or announces his/her intention to leave office, if the President has nominated a new Agency Head, or if there is a Presidential transition. Typically, OPM will impose a moratorium on Qualifications Review Board cases as a courtesy to a new Agency Head when it learns of an Agency Head's planned departure. However, OPM will consider requests for exceptions to such a moratorium on a case-by-case basis.

III. Prohibition on Awards to Certain Appointees

No senior politically appointed officer, who serves in an SES position and is not a career appointee as defined in 5 U.S.C. 3132(a)(4) or who serves in a position of a confidential or policy determining character as a Schedule C employee, may receive an incentive award during the period beginning June 1, 2004, through January 20, 2005 (5 U.S.C. 4508). The statute prohibits such officers from receiving incentive awards under subchapter I of chapter 45 of title 5, United States Code.

For additional guidance regarding appointments and awards during the 2004 Presidential election period, please contact the Deputy Associate Director for your agency in OPM's Human Capital Leadership & Merit System Accountability Division by calling 202-606-2131. Staff inquiries should be referred to the appropriate OPM Human Capital Officer.

PRE-APPOINTMENT REVIEW OF PROPOSED APPOINTMENT

Agency: _________________________________________________
Selectee: ______________________________________
Current Position/Appt. Authority: _______________________________________________________
Proposed Position/Appt. Authority: __________________________________________________

Please provide the following documentation:

  1. The position description and employment application for the candidate's current position/appointment. List any positions the candidate has previously held in public service.
  2. The record of merit selection, including position description and employment application for the proposed position. Note: If the duties of the proposed position are similar to those currently or previously performed by the employee, state when and why this position is being filled through the competitive process.
  3. The vacancy announcement published in USAJOBS on OPM's Internet website, the public notice distribution list, and a copy of the rating schedule.
  4. The name of the selecting official (include title, telephone number, and type of appointment, e.g., career SES, Schedule C, Presidential Appointee).
  5. The names of other qualified candidates forwarded to the selecting official and the merit staffing procedures used to refer these candidates.
  6. A statement concerning the disposition of the candidate's current Schedule C or Noncareer SES position if vacated.
  7. A description of how the agency met the regulatory requirements of the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) as it relates to filling the proposed position.
  8. Certification from the appointing authority that the proposed action meets all merit and fitness requirements in 5 U.S.C. 2301 and 2302, and Civil Service Rules 4.2 and 7.1.
  9. Contact your agency's Human Capital Officer at OPM for additional guidance on submission of requests for Pre-appointment Review.
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