Click here to skip navigation
An official website of the United States Government.
Skip Navigation

In This Section

Hiring Information Direct Hire Authority



This section assists Federal agencies with making determinations whether direct-hire is the best course of action for meeting their recruitment needs when experiencing a severe shortage of candidates or critical hiring; how to acquire direct-hire; and how to use and process direct-hire actions under the competitive process using delegated examining procedures.

Fact Sheet

General Questions

  • A Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) is an appointing (hiring) authority that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can give to Federal agencies for filling vacancies when a critical hiring need or severe shortage of candidates exists.
  • A Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) enables an agency to hire, after public notice is given, any qualified applicant without regard to 5 U.S.C. 3309-3318, 5 CFR part 211, or 5 CFR part 337, subpart A. A DHA expedites hiring by eliminating competitive rating and ranking, veterans' preference, and "rule of three" procedures.
  • OPM published supplementary information and regulatory language in the Federal Register that explain the Direct-Hire Authority. See the final regulation, published June 15, 2004, 69 FR 33271, and the interim regulations published June 13, 2003, 68 FR 35265. The final regulations are codified at 5 CFR part 337, subpart B, in the CFR edition. In addition, Chapter 2 of the Delegated Examining Operations Handbookcontains information on the use of the two types of direct-hire authority.

    OPM posts a list of the current Governmentwide Direct-Hire Authorities (DHAs). In addition, agencies must post all vacancies filled by DHA on USAJOBS.

  • No, only Executive agencies (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105) with delegated examining authority (authorized under 5 U.S.C. 1104(a)(2)) from OPM may use a Governmentwide Direct-Hire Authority (DHA). The agency does not need a Delegated Examining Unit to use a DHA. Information on obtaining delegated examining authority is available.
  • No. Veterans preference does not apply when selecting individuals under DHA. When agencies select individuals under DHA, the law allows agencies to hire them without regard to sections 5 U.S.C. 3309-3318, which eliminates the requirement for applying veterans preference. Qualified candidates with veterans' preference should be selected as they are found, just as any qualified non-preference eligible candidate would be.

Getting a Direct-Hire Authority

  • There are two methods under which OPM issues Direct-Hire Authority:

    1. An agency with delegated examining authority may submit a written request to OPM for specific positions; or
    2. OPM may decide independently that a "severe shortage of candidates" or a "critical hiring need" exists for specific positions in some or all locations and issue authority either Governmentwide or for specific agencies and/or locations.
  • Agency requests must come from the Department or Agency Head, Chief Human Capital Officer, or a senior headquarters official with delegated authority to make the request on behalf of the agency. Agency requests may be addressed to the OPM Director or the Associate Director for Strategic Human Resources Policy. Agencies can expedite OPM processing by faxing the request to the OPM Director's Office at 202-606-2573 and to the Division for Strategic Human Resources Policy at 202-606-2329. [5 CFR 337.201]
  • No. Congress placed the law authorizing direct hiring under 5 U.S.C. 3304 - Competitive service; examinations. Because 5 U.S.C. 3304 establishes rules for the competitive service, a Direct-Hire Authority cannot cover positions in the excepted service or the Senior Executive Service.
  • OPM does not provide a recommended format or provide copies of sample requests. However, at a minimum, agency requests for Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) should:

    1. Identify the position or positions [job title(s), series, grade level(s) and location(s)];
    2. State the type of DHA requested [severe shortage of candidates or a critical hiring need];
    3. Indicate the duration requested and discuss why this period is needed;
    4. Summarize the evidence in favor of a DHA in terms of the categories described in 5 CFR 337.204 or 337.205, and explain how the evidence establishes a severe shortage of candidates or critical hiring need as defined under 5 CFR 337.202 for the position(s) requested;
    5. Identify a point-of-contact for questions and requests for further information; and
    6. List the attachments - the documentary (hard-copy) supporting evidence that demonstrate the existence of a severe-shortage of candidates or critical hiring need for the position(s) requested.
  • Documentary (hard copy) evidence includes, but is not limited to, a copy or photocopy (with source noted) of relevant pages containing factual information, expert opinions, directives, requirements, etc. that support statements in the agency's request. This may include factual information prepared by: the employing organization (Bureau, Office, Service); an Executive agency; the Executive Office of the President; a Congressional Committee; the Legislative Research Service; the Judicial Branch; a State or local government; or a private sector organization (educational institution, public interest group, professional group, society, association, etc); or a subject matter expert, when their credentials are provided. Examples of documentary evidence include: lists; counts; charts; summaries; information sheets; pamphlets; advertisements; position descriptions; vacancy announcements; reports; web pages; discussion papers; printouts; testimony; press releases; publications; periodicals; manuals; guides; Executive orders; Presidential directives; Presidential initiatives, program directives; budget documents; appropriation acts; and public laws.
  • The agency must provide documentary (hard copy) evidence showing the existence of a severe shortage of candidates for each occupational series, grade level and location covered by the DHA requested. There is no requirement to address all eight criteria listed at 5 CFR 337.204(b); however, requests should address each criterion that applies. For each criterion used the agency must provide supporting and documentary (i.e., hard copy) evidence. Generally this information should be current (within the last year). If current information is not available for some grade levels or locations, explain why it is necessary and reasonable to include those grade levels and locations.
  • Examples of supporting evidence for "severe shortage of candidates" include, but are not limited to, the applicable area(s) identified in 5 CFR 337.204(b):

    1. Results of workforce planning and analysis. Agencies may prepare a paragraph, paper, report, etc., that describes the results of agency workforce planning. For each position, grade level and location requested, the evidence should provide the number of incumbents, the number of current vacancies, and the number of projected vacancies due to budget increases, priority changes, new technologies, turnover, retirement, etc. during the next 12, 18, or 24 months.
    2. Employment trends including the local or national labor market. Agencies may discuss local and/or national labor-market problems for each position requested and reference documentary evidence such as the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook, trade/professional association issuances, news articles, etc. Agencies can describe unusual work functions, which require a special combination of knowledge, skills, and/or abilities and provide evidence showing this combination is difficult to find.
    3. The existence of nationwide or geographic skills shortages. Agencies may discuss labor market supply shortages based on information found on the internet, in publications, such as the Department of Labor Occupational Outlook, professional or trade association publications, news articles, etc., or describe why evidence is not available or not applicable.
    4. Agency efforts, including recruitment initiatives, use of other appointing authorities (e.g., Schedule A, Schedule B) and flexibilities, training and development programs tailored to the position(s), and an explanation of why these recruitment and training efforts have not been sufficient. Agencies may discuss their recruiting efforts, extended announcements periods, hiring flexibilities, and recruiting and retention incentives used. Agencies can describe use of college and/or association recruiting, paid advertising, category or expedited procedures for rating, selection, clearance, job offers, etc., superior qualification appointment, student loan repayment, or other hiring incentives. Agencies can discuss factors that prevent or limit internal development and related reasons candidates give for declining job offers.
    5. Data showing the availability and quality of candidates. Agencies may provide a statistical summary identifying the number of applications received, minimally qualified applicants, well-qualified candidates, demonstrated history of hiring preference eligibles, failure to reply, job offers, declinations, hires, performance problems, etc.
    6. A description of the desirability of the geographic location of the position(s). Agencies may provide information describing problems with the location and commuting area of the positions. For example, problems may exist with local housing, public transportation, parking, traffic, public education, health care, remote or rural nature, high cost of living, etc.
    7. A description of the desirability of the duties and/or work environment associated with the position(s). Agencies may describe why their vacancies are undesirable and harder to fill than similar positions. For example, evidence may include job duties, working conditions and environment, rotating work schedules, intermittent or seasonal work schedules, travel burden, employee/union complaints, etc.
    8. Other pertinent information such as selective placement factors, or other special requirements of the position, or why the use of hiring flexibilities such as recruitment or retention allowances or special salary rates was not sufficient. Agencies may describe mission requirements, medical requirements, and security clearances that make certain positions difficult to fill or show an urgent need to fill existing vacancies without further delay.
  • The agency must provide documentary (hard copy) evidence describing the event or circumstance that created the critical hiring need. If evidence is not available for some grade levels or locations, explain why it is necessary and reasonable to include those grade levels and locations. In addition the following must be supplied:

    1. Identify the position(s) that must be filled. Agencies must list the job titles, occupation series, grade levels (or equivalent), and locations of positions needed to respond to the event or circumstance identified. For example, to implement the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administrations listed several series and grade levels in locations nationwide.
    2. Describe the event or circumstance that has created the need to fill the position(s). Agencies must describe a law, Presidential directive, Administration initiative, environmental disaster, a national emergency or other unforeseen event or circumstance which requires the agency to fill the vacancies on an urgent basis.
    3. Specify the duration for which the critical need is expected to exist. Agencies must describe the extent and duration of their planned hiring efforts.
    4. Include supporting evidence that demonstrates why the use of other hiring authorities is impracticable or ineffective. Agencies must describe why other hiring authorities/options cannot be used, have not worked, or will not meet the critical need. Other hiring authorities/options include: transfer, reassignment, promotion, reinstatement, Schedule A, Schedule B, Veterans Recruitment Appointments (VRA), and Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) appointments. In addition, the agency can describe the staffing impact of unforeseen tasks, requirement(s), or deadlines. Further, agencies may include evidence showing vigorous agency recruiting, a shortage of available qualified candidates, and an urgent need to fill vacancies without further delay.
  • OPM expects agencies will take or continue appropriate actions to fill existing vacancies and will respond as quickly as possible to requests for any additional supporting or documentary evidence. In addition, agencies may post vacancy announcements on USAJOBS, initiate other recruiting and outreach efforts, and use existing hiring authorities, flexibilities, incentives, etc. to fill vacancies. For example, for emergency hiring needs agencies may hire anyone able to do the work for up to 60 days using the Schedule A authority under 5 CFR 213.3102(i)(2).
  • Generally, OPM will establish an ending date based on a number of factors, including the length of time requested, the supporting and documentary evidence provided, and OPM's own exercise of judgment. When an ending date is not given, OPM will periodically review use, may request updated evidence, and will determine if termination, modification, or continuation is required [5 CFR 337.201]
  • Yes, agencies may request an extension of DHA prior to its expiration. As a reminder, when doing so agencies must provide updated supporting and documentary (hard copy) evidence showing that a "severe shortage of candidates" or "critical hiring need" still exists and will likely continue for the duration for the period requested. Agencies are encouraged to submit their requests as early as possible to allow OPM ample time to process the extension request.

Using a Direct-Hire Authority

Back to Top

Governmentwide Authority

Authorities: 5 U.S.C. Section 3304 and 5 CFR Part 337, Subpart B

Using OPM approved governmentwide or agency specific direct-hire authorities, agencies may appoint candidates to positions without regard to the requirements in title 5 U.S.C. 3309 through 3318. In order for an agency to use direct hire, OPM must determine that there is either a severe shortage of candidates or a critical hiring need for a position or group of positions.

When using the direct-hire authority, agencies must adhere to the public notice requirements in 5 U.S.C. 3327 and 3330, and the displaced employee procedures in 5 CFR part 330, subparts B, F, and G. When documenting appointments using a direct-hire authority, an agency must use two authority codes. The first code is "AYM" and will automatically fill in with "Reg. 337.201." The second authority code will be the individual one associated with the specific direct-hire authority. These codes are listed below along with the information about each direct-hire authority.

Governmentwide Direct-Hire Authorities:

Medical Occupations - All grade levels at all locations for the following occupations (GW001, issued June 20, 2003), Second authority code BAB:

  • Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist, GS-0647
  • Medical Officer, GS-0602
  • Nurse, GS-0610, GS-0620
  • Pharmacist, GS-0660

Information Technology Management (Information Security), GS-2210, GS-9 and above at all locations (GW002, issued June, 20, 2003), Second authority Code: BAC

Positions involved in Iraqi Reconstruction Efforts that require fluency in Arabic or other related Middle Eastern languages at all WG levels, single-grade interval occupations in the General Schedule (GS), and two-grade interval GS occupations at GS-9 and above. Agencies may appoint U.S. citizens to positions at all locations. (GW003, issued July 1, 2003), Second authority Code: BAD

GW-004, Effective September 30, 2012 is extended by Sec. 1103 of P.L. 112-239, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) FY 2013, for Federal Acquisition positions covered under title 41, United States Code 433(g)(1)(A). This authority is based on a severe-shortage of candidates. Prior to using this authority, the department and agency heads (other than the Secretary of Defense) must determine whether a shortage of highly qualified individuals exists. When determining the existence of a shortage of highly qualified individuals, agencies are required to use the supporting evidence prescribed in 5 CFR 337.204(b). The supporting evidence must be kept in a file for documentation and reporting purposes. In accordance with 5 CFR 337.206(c), OPM may request information from agencies on their use and implementation of this direct-hire authority. This authority expired on September 30, 2017. Agencies may not appoint any individual to a position of employment using this authority after September 30, 2017. The legal authority code for SF-50 item 5-E is “BAE.”

GW-006 (VMO) Issued on February 12, 2009 for Veterinary Medical Officer positions at the GS-11 through GS-15 grade levels (or equivalent) nationwide to include overseas territories and commonwealths including Puerto Rico, Guam, and Virgin Islands, may be used indefinitely or until OPM terminates this authority. This authority is based on a severe shortage of candidates. In accordance with 5 CFR 337.206(c), OPM may request information from agencies on their use and implementation of this direct-hire authority. On a periodic basis OPM will determine if continued use is supportable. The legal authority code for SF-50 item 5-E is "BAG."

Control Panel