OPM sets deadline for agency SES requests

By Jory Heckman
Federal News Radio

The Office of Personnel Management is asking agencies to forecast how many Senior Executive Service positions they’ll need for the next two fiscal years.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta released a memo this week urging agencies, departments and offices of inspectors general to review their need for SESers for FY 2016 and 2017 and submit their requests to OPM by Dec. 31.

“The executive resources biennial allocation process provides OPM the authority to review organizational missions, plans, and structures and assess whether executive resources are being used in the most efficient manner,” Archuleta said in the memo.

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Before the deadline, agencies must inform OPM whether they intend to reduce, maintain or increase the number of SES, senior level (SL) or scientific and professional (ST) positions. Agencies that decide to change the size of their SES workforce must also submit a written justification for the change by April 1, 2015.

In its guidance, OPM recommends that agencies support their requests by describing changes such as legislative mandates, presidential directives or new agency missions, and new hires will help achieve those goals. Agencies are also expected to propose sources of funding to cover the costs of any new hires.

“In making allocation decisions, OPM considers the degree to which agencies are effectively managing their executive resources, as documented by a strategic workforce analysis,” the OPM guidance says. “This analysis addresses such things as whether the agency has redeployed permanent allocations to critical position needs, determined whether or not positions can be abolished, and addressed performance issues. OPM also considers other factors, such as the SES/SL/ST vacancy rate, overall agency funding levels and personnel ceilings, and the impact of the requested increases on Agency-wide allocations. In addition, OPM consults with OMB about the resource implications of the requested position increases.”

The task of hiring people for vacant SES positions, however, may not be so easy. Following President Barack Obama’s announced reforms to SES, senior leaders have described their jobs as more difficult, the bureaucracy as more frustrating and the future as more challenging since Obama took office. The federal workforce in general has expressed mixed feelings about the President’s plans for SES.

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