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Federal agencies will be able to employ temporary staff and speed hiring as the government hastens to carry out the $1 trillion infrastructure law, President Joe Biden’s administration said Tuesday.
The Office of Personnel Management is authorizing agencies to fill temporary positions for as long as two years for jobs specifically aimed at supporting the new law (Public Law 117-58), OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said in a memo to department heads and agencies.
Agencies have said they need hundreds of grant personnel, budget analysts, and managers to facilitate the spending and deployment of the law, and it has taken an average of about 98 days to hire a federal worker. The new authority speeds up the process by giving agencies more discretion in how they advertise jobs, allowing them flexibility in recruitment and applicant evaluations, an OPM official said. The office is also helping agencies with their staffing plans, according to the memo.
Other administrations have used the same expedited hiring authority for larger efforts, including the Trump administration to recruit workers to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Hiring temporary workers for the infrastructure law will help get programs off the ground and attract applicants who may not want to spend their entire careers in federal government, the official said.
The departments face this major lift to spread the infrastructure windfall while operating under a stopgap appropriation that restricts spending to last year’s levels and expires after Feb. 18.
Lawmakers have used consecutive continuing resolutions to fund the government as they’ve been unable to agree on spending. Biden administration officials want Congress to pass a full-year appropriations bill that would fully fund the infrastructure law. The expedited hiring authority doesn’t come with a budget attached, so the agencies would still need the money to pay for the jobs, the official said.
With assistance from Courtney Rozen
To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at email@example.com