The Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator, Catherine McCabe, told employees this week that the Trump administration’s federal hiring freeze “is already creating some challenges to our ability to get the agency’s work done.”
The comments came in a weekly video update that McCabe, a career EPA employee who previously served as a top official in its New York regional office, has been producing for staff since President Trump took office last month.
Virtually each week, she has sought to reassure EPA employees who privately — and publicly in some cases — have expressed concerns about Trump’s promises to scale back the agency’s regulatory role and his nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a longtime EPA antagonist, as its next leader.
The Office of Personnel Management has provided the following list of questions and answers with additional information on the hiring freeze announced last month.
On January 23, 2017, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum (PM) titled, “Hiring Freeze” to be applied to all executive branch agencies. This document provides a list of frequently asked questions and responses to assist agencies in implementing the PM. Agencies must implement the PM and associated guidance (M-17-17 and M-17-18) in accordance with any lawful collective bargaining obligations that may apply.
Q 1. Which agencies are covered by the hiring freeze?
A: The hiring freeze applies to all vacant positions in the executive branch (unless otherwise exempted) regardless of the hiring authority used for the appointment. Agencies should consult with their agency counsel if there are specific questions regarding the applicability of the freeze to their organization or specific situations.
Q 2. Does the hiring freeze apply to uniformed services personnel outside of the Department of Defense (DoD)?
A: The freeze does not apply to members of the uniformed services outside the DoD, who are otherwise covered by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), such as U.S. Coast Guard and Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.
Q 3. Does the hiring freeze apply to positions in the competitive, excepted, and Senior Executive Service (SES)?
A: Yes, the hiring freeze applies to positions in all three types of service unless otherwise exempted.
Q 4. Does the hiring freeze apply to positions filled by political appointees?
A: No. The hiring freeze does not limit the appointment of individuals to non-career positions in the Senior Executive Service (SES) or to Schedule C positions in the Excepted Service, or the appointment of individuals to any other positions where the incumbent serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority (i.e., “appointed” positions of a political/non-career nature).
Q 5. Does the hiring freeze apply to appointments of all types of duration (i.e., temporary, term, time-limited, and permanent)?
A: Yes. The hiring freeze applies to all types of appointments regardless of duration, unless otherwise exempted.