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News Release

Thursday, May 10, 2012
Contact: Communications & Public Liaison
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Issues Final Regulations to Provide Clear Pathways to Federal Service for Students and Recent Graduates

Three Distinct Tracks Will Make it Easier for Students, Grads, Veterans and those Re-entering the Workforce to Find and Apply for Federal Jobs

Washington, DC -The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released final regulations that will offer students and recent graduates uniform and clear pathways to federal service.  Published in the Federal Register this week, these regulations will be viewable online beginning on May 11, 2012.

The Pathways Programs represent a major component, and a logical next step, of the President's hiring reform initiative. OPM has been working with federal agencies to improve a complex system where applicants had to answer lengthy essay questions and managers could only pick among three candidates.  This week marks the second anniversary of the President's direction to transition to a resume-based system that allows managers to choose from among all of the best qualified candidates. Hiring reform and the President's Veteran Employment Initiative have helped the Nation's returning veterans.  Last year, 28 percent of the people hired into federal jobs were veterans, the highest percentage in over 20 years. Federal agencies are also making strides in implementing the President's executive orders on diversity and hiring people with disabilities. Each agency has a diversity strategic plan in place now, and OPM has issued model practices for agencies to use in recruiting people with disabilities.

Today's regulations implement President Obama's December 27, 2010, Executive Order calling for streamlined pathways to federal internships and opportunities for careers in federal service for students and recent graduates.  Each of these programs makes it easier for students and recent graduates to find job opportunities and to get experience working in the federal government.  For the first time, there will be public notification of internship and recent graduate opportunities. Veterans will be able to find the jobs they want to apply for.

"These new pathways will place a ‘welcome sign' on federal service for students and recent graduates," said OPM Director John Berry. "The aim is to enable students and recent graduates to more effectively compete for federal service. Over the summer, we will continue to work with federal agencies to implement these regulations and to identify specific opportunities for students and recent graduates."

Because agencies have 60 days to implement the new regulations, actual Pathways job opportunities will not be available until later this summer and in the Fall. But the final regulations firmly establish the framework agencies need to create their programs.

OPM has worked extensively with the Office of Management and Budget and other federal agencies and key stakeholders to develop these final regulations. For over a year, OPM worked with agencies and unions, schools and students, good government and academic groups, affinity groups and veterans' service organizations. OPM convened inter-agency workgroups, business and academic roundtables, and held a day-long public hearing where the agency took testimony from every stakeholder group with a significant interest in these programs.  When the proposed regulations were published, OPM crafted a user-friendly public comment process that OPM explained by going directly to the people affected by the regulations.  That resulted in 238 public comments addressing thousands of issues.  OPM worked at all levels of the agencies, from the CHCOs down through hiring managers and HR.  The agency even created a Pathways Advisory Council of agency HR professionals, interns, PMFs, and OPM staff. 

OPM studied the need for student pathways intensely and concluded that students and recent graduates do not fare well under the regular hiring process because they lack experience in their chosen field.The Pathways Programs are narrowly tailored to address this problem. They are limited in scope, serving as a supplement to competitive examining rather than a substitute for it; transparent; and fair to veterans.  Participants in these Programs are appointed under the newly created Schedule D of the excepted service. Veterans' preference applies to all Pathways Program job opportunities. 

"These programs reach a broad range of talent - not only the current generation, but anyone who's gone back to school. They might be recent vets using the new GI bill, moms going back to school after raising kids, workers who've gone to night school, or even long-term unemployed folks who sought out a new trade or degree," said Berry.

The following summarizes the three Pathways Programs:

Internship Program.  The Internship Program replaces the existing intern programs - the Student Career Experience Program and the Student Temporary Employment Program.  It is open to students enrolled at least half-time in a variety of qualifying accredited educational programs at the high-school through professional levels. This Program provides students with paid opportunities to work and explore federal careers while still in school.

Recent Graduates Program.  This new program is open to applicants who have completed a qualifying post-high school educational program (e.g., technical or vocational school; two-or-four year college or university; graduate or professional school) within the preceding two years.  Veterans who are precluded by military service from applying during their two-year window will have up to 6 years to apply. Also, individuals who completed a qualifying educational program after December 27, 2010, will have two full years from the effective date of the final regulations. It provides developmental opportunities for recent graduates. 

Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program.  For more than 30 years, the PMF Program has been the federal government's premier leadership development program for graduate and professional degree candidates.  The final regulations increase the PMF Program's flexibility by expanding the eligibility window for applicants; allowing individuals to self-nominate, and aligning the application timeframes with academic calendars to make the program more "student friendly".  Like the Recent Graduates Program, applicants have up to two years after they graduate to apply for the program.

The regulations will be effective on July 10, 2012. For more information, visit OPM's website

The final regulations may be viewed and downloaded directly from the Federal Register in PDF format at:

To view a video on the Pathways Programs please visit

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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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