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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James has approved a request for direct-hire authority from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This authority provides HHS a hiring flexibility to quickly staff certain critical positions in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) responsible for implementing the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA).
Dr. Ed Sontag, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management Department of Health and Human Services and Chief Human Capital Officer said, "As the CMS department gears up to implement the Medicaid changes, we appreciate the quick review and approval for direct-hire authority from OPM. This will be of tremendous assistance and allow CMS to staff critical positions quickly."
The MMA, which was signed by President George W. Bush on December 8, 2003, gives Medicare beneficiaries access to prescription drug coverage and the buying power to reduce the prices they pay for drugs. Lower income beneficiaries receive enhanced coverage under the MMA while state governments gain savings.
To implement the MMA, CMS will need to fill approximately 250 positions in Fiscal Year 2004 and another 250 in Fiscal Year 2005.
"CMS's request for direct-hire authority is a perfect example of an agency addressing their human capital needs and utilizing current flexibilities to address a critical need situation," James said. "Flexibilities such as direct-hire authority play an important role in an overall strategy to fix the federal hiring process."
OPM will review the use of the direct-hire authority to ensure it is being used properly.
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.