HR University Logo, Teaching the Business of HR; and CHCO Council seal



Recruitment Policy Studio

Federal Section
Hiring Toolkit

Hiring Authorities/Other Hiring Options


Direct Hire


The Direct-Hire allows agencies with delegated examining authority to hire individuals without regard to sections 3309-3318 of title 5, United States Code (the traditional rating, ranking, and selection procedures, including the application of veterans’ preference). Agencies can appoint individuals to positions for which:
  • Public notice has been given, and
  • The U.S. Office of Personnel Management determines there is a severe shortage of candidates or a critical hiring need.
OPM may issue direct-hire authority on a government wide basis (e.g., Pharmacist, GS-0660) or on a case-by-case basis for a particular agency. The direct hire authority may cover certain occupational series, grades (or equivalent), and/or geographical location.

What it provides: An opportunity to recruit and to appoint individuals to competitive service positions without using the traditional competitive hiring process. It provides managers the necessary talent in situations where recruiting the right skill has been a challenge.

When to use it: When a severe shortage of qualified individuals exists or there is a critical hiring need.

What it requires: An OPM-approved hiring authority, public notification and a determination of qualifications. Agencies must also adhere to its policies concerning the treatment of surplus and displaced employees.

Benefits to the hiring manager: This authority allows managers to consider individuals without using traditional competitive examination procedures. It may also expedite hiring by eliminating the traditional rating and ranking procedures.

To hire using an OPM-approved direct hire authority:

STEPS
  1. Consider strategic workforce planning needs.
  2. Determine recruiting strategy.
  3. Identify the individual(s) who can meet the critical hiring need.
  4. Determine whether or not the candidates have the desired competencies for the position.
  5. Appoint an eligible who is qualified to perform the duties of the position.

Direct Hire General Information


General Questions (READ MORE)
  • What is a Direct-Hire Authority? (READ MORE)
    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.
  • What is the purpose of Direct-Hire Authority? (READ MORE)
    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.
  • Where can agencies and applicants find the current Direct-Hire Authorities? (READ MORE)
    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 Handbook (PDF file) [2.01 MB] contains 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.
  • Can any agency use a Government wide Direct-Hire Authority? (READ MORE)
    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 (PDF file) [2.01 MB] is available.
  • Does Veterans’ Preference apply? (READ MORE)
    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 (READ MORE)
  • How do agencies get Direct-Hire Authority? (READ MORE)
    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.
  • Which agency officials may submit a request to OPM for Direct-Hire Authority? (READ MORE)
    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 Deputy Associate Director for Recruitment and Hiring. Agencies can expedite OPM processing by faxing the request to the OPM Director's Office at 202-606-2573 and to the Recruitment and Hiring Division, Hiring Policy Office at 202-606-4430. [5 CFR 337.201]
  • May an agency request Direct-Hire Authority for positions in the excepted service or Senior Executive Service? (READ MORE)
    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.
  • What format should agencies use when preparing a Direct-Hire Authority request? (READ MORE)
    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.
  • What is documentary (hard copy) evidence? (READ MORE)
    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.
  • When an agency requests Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) based on a "severe shortage of candidates," what must the agency submit to show that a severe shortage of candidates exists? (READ MORE)
    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.
  • What are some examples of supporting evidence for "severe shortage of candidates?" (READ MORE)
    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.
  • When an agency requests Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) based on a "critical hiring need," what can an agency submit in order to show that the critical hiring need exists? (READ MORE)
    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.
  • What can agencies do while waiting for OPM's decision? (READ MORE)
    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).
  • Will each Direct-Hire Authority have an ending date? (READ MORE)
    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]
  • May agencies request extension of the ending date? (READ MORE)
    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 (READ MORE)


Direct-Hire Process


Submitting A Request for Direct-Hire Authority: (READ MORE)
Agencies should take the following steps to obtain approval for an agency-specific direct-hire authority:

STEPS
  1. Ensure Delegated Examining Authority is in Place

    Prior to requesting direct-hire authority, your agency must ensure delegated examining authority is in place in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 1104(a)(2).

    To learn how to obtain delegated examining authority, refer to the Delegated Examining Operations Handbook, Chapter 1 - OPM and Agency Responsibilities, Section A - What Is Delegated Examining Authority?
  2. Determine if Your Hiring Need(s) Meet(s) the Definition(s)

    To determine if your hiring need qualifies, you must know the distinction between a severe shortage of candidates and a critical hiring need. The definitions of each follow:
    • Severe shortage of candidates. A severe shortage of candidates for a particular position or group of positions means that an agency is having difficulty identifying candidates possessing the competencies or the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform the job requirements despite:
      • Extensive recruitment
      • Extended announcement periods
      • The use, as applicable, of hiring flexibilities such as recruitment or relocation incentives or special salary rates
    • Critical hiring need. A critical hiring need for a particular position or group of positions means that an agency has an urgent need to fill the position(s) to meet mission requirements brought about by circumstances such as:
      • A national emergency, threat, or potential threat
      • An environmental disaster
      • An unanticipated or unusual event or mission requirement
      • To conform to the requirements of law, a Presidential directive, or Administration initiative
    Select this link to learn more about these definitions and examples of supporting evidence for each.
  3. Develop Your Request for Direct-Hire Authority

    When making a request to OPM for direct-hire authority, you must do so in writing.

    When developing the request you should develop a justification; provide evidence; and consider OPM decision factors.

    Specifically:
    1. Identify the position or positions [job title(s), series, grade level(s) and location(s)]
    2. State the type of direct-hire authority 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 direct-hire authority 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
    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.
    Select this link to learn more about how to prepare a request for direct-hire authority.
  4. Submit the Request to OPM

    You must submit a written request to OPM for approval for direct-hire authority. The agency’s Chief Human Capital Officer (or equivalent) at the headquarters level must sign written requests for direct-hire authority. Mail or fax your request and supporting documentation to the following:
    Deputy Associate Director
    Recruitment and Hiring
    Office of Personnel Management
    1900 E Street NW., Room 6500 AJ
    Washington, DC 20415-1000
    Fax: (202) 606-4430

    Select this link to learn more about how to submit a request for direct-hire authority.


Implementing An Agency or Governmentwide Authority: (READ MORE)
Regardless of whether you are implementing a Governmentwide direct-hire authority or an agency-requested OPM approval for direct-hire authority, use the following steps to implement the direct-hire authority:

STEPS
  1. Provide public notice, including posting on USAJOBS
  2. Follow Career Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program (ICTAP) requirements for applying special selection priority to eligible candidates. Select this link for additional information on the CTAP and ICTAP
  3. Hire the qualified candidate(s)
  4. Document hiring actions using the authority codes found in the Delegated Examining Operations Handbook, Chapter 2, Section A - Review Hiring Flexibilities
  5. Be aware of the authority's expiration date. In the case of agency-specific direct-hire authorities, submit another request to OPM if needed.



Resources (READ MORE)