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BREAKING NEWS: MSPB strikes down intern program

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The Merit Systems Protection Board issued a decision Tuesday that appears to put the controversial Federal Career Intern Program on ice.

“The MPSB decision precludes OPM from continuing the Federal Career Intern Program until such time that OPM brings the program into compliance with Title 5,” AFGE Assistant General Counsel Andres Grajales said in a statement.

More to come.

UPDATE 1: MSPB ruled that the federal government has improperly placed FCIP positions in the excepted service, which let agencies avoid the legal requirement to notify the public that competitive service vacancies were available. Job seeker and plaintiff David Dean, a disabled veteran,  argued that this violates his right to seek federal employment, and MSPB agreed.

MSPB further ruled that FCIP violates veterans preference laws because it doesn’t require the government to justify the placement of positions in the excepted service. (Excepted service is primarily meant to fill jobs where it isn’t practical to hold a competition.) MSPB said FCIP has been used to fill positions with non-veterans, who ordinarily should not have been picked ahead of job seekers who were veterans.

MSPB ordered OPM to bring FCIP into compliance with Title 5 laws governing veterans preference within 120 days. MSPB also ordered the Veterans Affairs Department to “reconstruct the hiring process” for nine positions in Columbia, S.C., that another plaintiff, Larry Evans, applied for in 2009.

This is big news. We’ll keep looking into this — check back tomorrow for more.

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Federal Career Intern Program: What do you think?

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Are you a hiring manager or HR official who has used the controversial Federal Career Intern Program to bring on new employees? Do you find it to be an efficient, useful hiring tool? Is it better than the standard hiring process, and if so, why? Or have you seen your office abuse its authorities to sidestep veterans preference, merit principles and hire managers’ favorites, as unions allege is frequently the case? 

Federal Times is interested in hearing your impressions of FCIP — how it works, its upsides, and its downsides. Feel free to e-mail me at slosey@federaltimes.com if you’d like to talk. If you’d prefer to talk off the record, or for me to not use your name in my story, that would be fine by me.

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Berry: KSAs will be Gone with the Wind

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As God is my witness, KSAs as an initial screening tool will fall.
- Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, channelling Scarlett O’Hara in his address to the IRMCO conference this morning.
Seriously, though, Berry outlined the future role he wants knowledge, skills and abilities essays to play in the government’s hiring process. Some agencies will likely still require finalists for a job opening to write essays outlining their experience and special skills, Berry said, but they shouldn’t need KSAs from thousands of first-round applicants. “Whittle it down until you’ve got the pool of 10 or 20,” Berry said. “Make them write the essays, not the 10,000″ initial applicants.

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Swine flu and flexible hiring

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Steve Losey linked to some OPM guidance on swine flu this morning. One other point to make from my reporting… I’ve talked to a few feds today about their swine flu responses, and they keep mentioning the hiring flexibilities that OPM grants during emergency situations: direct hire authority for doctors and nurses, 120-day temporary contracts to fill vacancies if an employee gets sick, etc.

Obviously the disease hasn’t affected federal agencies yet, and nobody’s sure if it will, but it’s worth being prepared.

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