OPM authorizes direct hire authority, excepted service appointments to support Biden’s AI order

The Office of Personnel Management has authorized the use of two methods of federal hiring to support the actions in the president’s AI executive order.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Federal agencies can now use direct hire authority and temporary excepted service appointments to support President Joe Biden’s executive order on artificial intelligence, per a new Office of Personnel Management memo.

The Friday memo comes after the order directed OPM to review hiring needs, grant direct hire authority where appropriate, and consider the use of excepted service appointments to support the administration’s AI actions. That work was set to be completed within 60 days of the Oct. 30 order.

OPM’s memo authorizes governmentwide direct hire authority — which is used for critical federal hiring needs — for four AI-related positions: IT specialists, AI computer engineers, AI computer scientists, and management and program analysts. 

It also authorizes temporary excepted service appointments to carry out work related to the order, such as assessing AI capacity, conducting workforce studies, and onboarding technical AI staff, among other tasks. Positions under that authority would not be technical AI positions, the memo said.


The memo follows a previous OPM memo in September that added direct hire authority for data science and operations research positions as part of the administration’s artificial intelligence efforts. 

Biden’s executive order placed an emphasis on AI hiring within the federal government, including directions to “plan a national surge in AI talent in the Federal Government” and create a Technology Talent Task Force, to accelerate and track federal AI hiring. 

There are also hiring-related requirements yet to come. In coming months, OPM will also be required to “coordinate a pooled-hiring action” to support recruiting AI talent across the federal government and issue guidance for agencies on “existing pay flexibilities or incentive pay programs for AI, AI-enabling, and other key technical positions.”

Madison Alder

Written by Madison Alder

Madison Alder is a reporter for FedScoop in Washington, D.C., covering government technology. Her reporting has included tracking government uses of artificial intelligence and monitoring changes in federal contracting. She’s broadly interested in issues involving health, law, and data. Before joining FedScoop, Madison was a reporter at Bloomberg Law where she covered several beats, including the federal judiciary, health policy, and employee benefits. A west-coaster at heart, Madison is originally from Seattle and is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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