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News Release

Thursday, March 17, 2005
Contact: Brendan LaCivita
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Issues Proposed Changes to Student Career Experience Program

Proposed changes give federal agencies greater flexibility in hiring and retaining talented students

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) soon will publish proposed regulations to the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). The regulations, recently approved by the Office of Management and Budget, will give agencies more flexibility in recruiting and retaining talented students for federal jobs. The proposed regulations also will allow students to credit certain non-federal internship service or military service toward the minimum time needed under a SCEP appointment to qualify for a permanent federal job.

"The proposed regulations to the SCEP support OPM's efforts to give greater flexibility in hiring and retention efforts," stated Acting Director Dan G. Blair. "We urge federal agencies to use this and other flexibilities to ensure their work forces are prepared to do the critical and demanding work of this new century."

Proposed revisions include a provision that would allow an agency to credit up to 320 hours of job-related experience gained in other formal and comparable work-study programs toward SCEP requirements. The proposed regulations also would allow an agency to credit job-related experience acquired by a degree-seeking student as an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States, including the National Guard and the Reserves. Finally, the proposed regulations would permit an agency to waive up to one-half of the required SCEP work experience hours for those students who have exceptional job performance and academic excellence while enrolled in the program.

"These proposed changes allow federal agencies to take advantage of relevant, job-related experience acquired in public service work-study programs that are as rigorous as programs they may themselves offer," said Blair. "Agencies will benefit significantly because they will have prior knowledge of the students' abilities before a job offer is extended."

Many promising students today serve in federal agencies under stipend programs, non-federal internships, scholarships, or grants. Such experience is comparable to that gained under SCEP, but because the student may not have been employed directly by the agency, it does not count toward SCEP requirements. OPM believes that with sufficient rigor, some portion of such service would clearly meet the program's intent and should be credited. This proposed regulatory change will permit agencies to evaluate and accept a promising student's job-related work-study experience, even if some of that experience was acquired in non-federal positions. Credit for non-federal work experience and the waiver of up to one-half of minimum work experience would apply only to SCEP students enrolled in accredited colleges and universities.

The SCEP, a component of the Student Educational Employment Program, was established by executive order to permit students completing approved career-related work-study programs to be appointed non-competitively to career or career-conditional positions in the competitive service. The program permits federal agencies to appoint students attending a high school, an accredited technical or vocational school, 2 or 4-year college or university, or graduate or professional school to positions in the excepted service so they may gain work experience that is related to and complements their academic course of study.

"The program gives students valuable work experience in a field related to their academic course of study and allows them to experience firsthand the rewards of public service. At the same time, it gives an agency the opportunity to observe students' job performance in the work environment and evaluate them as potential employees," Blair said.

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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