Direct Hire Authority
Direct Hire Authority (DHA) is a hiring mechanism that allows federal agencies to expedite the hiring of qualified candidates for specific positions. The use of DHA allows agencies to bypass the traditional competitive hiring process and hire candidates directly, based on their qualifications.
In general, federal agencies are required to announce job vacancies to the public through USAJOBS, the official job board of the federal government. However, when an agency uses DHA, it may not be required to post the vacancy announcement on USAJOBS or any other public job board.
The decision to use DHA is made at the discretion of the agency, and the agency may choose to use DHA for certain positions that meet specific criteria. For example, an agency may use DHA for positions that require highly specialized skills or knowledge, or for positions that are critical to the agency’s mission and cannot be filled through the traditional competitive hiring process.
It’s important to note that even when an agency uses DHA, it must still follow applicable federal laws, regulations, and policies regarding equal employment opportunity, veterans’ preference, and other hiring considerations. Additionally, the agency must ensure that the candidates hired through DHA meet the qualifications for the position and undergo appropriate background checks and other pre-employment screenings.
In summary, when a federal position is a Direct Hire Authority, it may not be required to be posted publicly, but the agency must still follow applicable federal laws and regulations regarding hiring and ensure that the candidates hired meet the qualifications for the position.
If a federal employee believes that they did not have a fair chance to apply for a job, they may be able to appeal the matter through the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
The MSPB is an independent federal agency that provides appeal rights to federal employees, including those who believe they have been subjected to prohibited personnel practices, such as discrimination or retaliation, or who believe they were denied a fair opportunity to apply for a job.
To appeal to the MSPB, the employee must file an appeal within the required timeframe, which is generally 30 days from the date of the alleged action or decision. The employee may also be required to exhaust any available administrative remedies, such as filing a complaint with the agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office or the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), before filing an appeal with the MSPB.
Once the appeal is filed, the MSPB will review the case and may order a hearing or other proceedings to gather evidence and make a determination. If the MSPB finds that the employee was denied a fair opportunity to apply for a job, it may order corrective action, such as reopening the job announcement or awarding the employee back pay and other remedies.
It’s important to note that the MSPB appeal process can be complex and time-consuming, and it may be helpful for the employee to seek legal advice or assistance in preparing and presenting their case. Additionally, some matters may be subject to different appeal processes or requirements, depending on the specific circumstances involved.
Law & Regulation
There are several laws and regulations that govern hiring for federal civilians, including:
- Title 5, United States Code – This is the primary statute that governs federal civilian employment. It sets out the basic framework for hiring, pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment for federal employees.
- Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) – The CFR contains the rules and regulations that federal agencies must follow when hiring and managing their employees. The specific sections that govern federal hiring include 5 CFR Part 330 (Recruitment, Selection, and Placement), 5 CFR Part 332 (Excepted Service), and 5 CFR Part 337 (Qualification Standards).
- Veterans Preference Laws – These laws give eligible veterans and their family members preference in federal hiring and retention processes. The primary veterans preference laws are the Veterans Preference Act of 1944 (codified at 5 U.S.C. § 2108) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
- Anti-Discrimination Laws – Federal agencies are prohibited from discriminating against employees and job applicants on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, or genetic information. The primary anti-discrimination laws are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Executive Orders – The President may issue executive orders that affect federal employment policies and practices. For example, Executive Order 14035, issued in July 2021, established new policies and practices to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the federal workforce.
These laws and regulations, along with agency-specific policies and procedures, establish the framework for hiring federal civilians and provide important protections and rights for federal employees and job applicants.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) provides guidance on direct hiring in the federal government. Specifically, 5 CFR § 337.201 outlines the requirements for agencies to use Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) to fill vacancies without going through the traditional competitive hiring process.
According to the CFR, agencies may use DHA to fill positions when there is a severe shortage of qualified candidates, a critical hiring need or a critical need for the agency to fulfill its mission. DHAs can be used to fill permanent, term, or temporary positions in the competitive service, except for Senior Executive Service (SES) positions.
To use DHA, agencies must follow certain requirements, including:
Public notice – The agency must publicize the position and the basis for using DHA.
Evaluation criteria – The agency must establish evaluation criteria that are directly related to the duties of the position.
Documentation – The agency must document the reasons for using DHA and maintain records that demonstrate compliance with the regulations.
Notification – The agency must notify the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) of its use of DHA.
Veterans preference – Agencies must apply veterans preference in direct-hire appointments.
Time limit – DHAs may only be used for a period of two years, unless OPM approves an extension.
The CFR allows agencies to use DHA to fill vacancies quickly and efficiently when traditional competitive hiring processes are not practical or feasible. However, agencies must still follow specific requirements to ensure that the hiring process is fair, transparent, and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.