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Sunday, February 25, 2024

OPM Releases Hiring Authorities for Advancing Government Use of AI

In a pivotal move to champion the safe and responsible development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14110 titled “Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.” This landmark executive action underscores the United States’ commitment to harnessing the full potential of AI while prioritizing safety and responsibility.

The central tenet of the EO is the President’s unwavering commitment to governing the development and use of AI in a coordinated manner across the Federal government. Recognizing the urgent need to lead in the rapidly advancing field of AI, the administration places the highest urgency on establishing a Federal Government-wide approach to AI development.

Section 10, subsection 10.2 of the EO, titled “Increasing AI Talent in Government,” highlights the critical need for talent in advancing AI across the Federal government. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is tasked with conducting an evidence-based review within 60 days to assess the need for hiring and workplace flexibility, including the potential grant of Federal Governmentwide direct-hire authority for AI and related data-science and technical roles.

In alignment with the objectives of EO 14110, OPM has taken decisive action by authorizing government-wide direct-hire authority for specific occupations crucial to AI development. The authorized positions, including IT Specialist (2210), Computer Scientist (1550), Computer Engineer (0854), and Program Analyst (0343) with a focus on AI, aim to address critical hiring needs and enhance AI capabilities across Federal agencies. This direct-hire authority is effective immediately and extends until December 31, 2028, or until OPM terminates the authority, whichever occurs first.

OPM is committed to ongoing exploration of subsequent occupational series related to AI work requirements, providing a flexible framework to meet evolving Federal agency hiring needs.

As part of the comprehensive approach, OPM had previously issued government-wide direct-hire authority for data science (GS-1560) and operations research (GS-1515) on September 29, 2023, at the GS 11-15 grade levels.

To ensure transparency and oversight, Federal agencies are required to submit quarterly reports detailing hires made under this direct-hire authority. The reporting requirements encompass information on job announcements, qualified applicants, selections, and hires, specifying grade and step/pay levels. Agencies must use the authority code “AYM” on the SF-50 “Notification of Personnel Action” to document appointments.

In addition to the direct-hire authority, OPM has authorized the use of excepted service Schedule A appointments under 5 CFR 213.3102(i)(3) to address temporary staffing needs in support of implementing EO 14110. This Schedule A covers positions below the Senior Executive Service level and is not intended for hiring technical AI positions. Agencies may use this authority for temporary appointments, up to 1 year, extendable for an additional year as needed, but not beyond December 31, 2028.

Agencies are urged to comply with veterans’ preference and other relevant procedures when utilizing these authorities, ensuring the appropriate citation of authority codes on the SF-50. OPM emphasizes the importance of conducting recruitment activities, even though public notice is not required in the excepted service. Temporary employees hired under this authority are not eligible for certain benefits, and agencies must have procedures for accepting applications and ensuring veterans’ preference is applied appropriately.

Matt Seldon
Matt Seldon
Matt Seldon, BSc., is an Editorial Associate with HSToday. He has over 20 years of experience in writing, social media, and analytics. Matt has a degree in Computer Studies from the University of South Wales in the UK. His diverse work experience includes positions at the Department for Work and Pensions and various responsibilities for a wide variety of companies in the private sector. He has been writing and editing various blogs and online content for promotional and educational purposes in his job roles since first entering the workplace. Matt has run various social media campaigns over his career on platforms including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and LinkedIn on topics surrounding promotion and education. His educational campaigns have been on topics including charity volunteering in the public sector and personal finance goals.

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