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Frequently Asked Questions Policy on Political Appointees

Is this the first time OPM has put a policy in place covering the hiring of current or former political appointees for career civil service positions?

No.  It has been OPM policy since the Carter Administration and under every President since to ensure that politics play no role when agencies hire political appointees for career Federal jobs.  In the past, OPM conducted a pre-hiring review of proposed appointments to the career competitive service during the year leading up to a Presidential election. 


Effective January 1, 2010, OPM expanded its pre-hiring oversight beyond the Presidential election year to ensure hiring of current or former political appointees—whenever it occurs—is  fair, open, and free from political influence.  The OPM Director’s January 1, 2010, memorandum for Heads of Departments and Agencies communicated two changes in OPM’s policy.  First, as noted above, OPM now conducts pre-hiring reviews on a continuing basis, not just during the year leading up to a Presidential election.  Second, we expanded the scope of our review for future hiring decisions.  In the past, OPM only reviewed an agency’s proposed hiring of a current or former political appointee when the career Federal job was in the competitive service or career SES.  Under our revised policy, OPM reviews proposed hiring of current or former political appointees for jobs in the excepted service as well.  OPM's responsibility to ensure merit-based hiring for Federal jobs includes both the excepted and competitive service.  

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