Garrison commanders are recruiting for about 2,000 job openings, and while the competitive process can be time-consuming, exceptions to the process allow for noncompetitive selection of current Installation Management Command, or IMCOM, employees, transitioning Soldiers, disabled veterans, and certain others.
At the same time, the Army still faces a new fiscal environment that could require more civilian workforce reductions in the future, so the headquarters will continue to closely oversee the filling of critical vacancies to ensure the command stays within sustainable end-strength numbers.
IMCOM started fiscal 12 facing a mandatory reduction of more than 4,000 civilian positions including the headquarters, the regions and the garrisons. In the interest of retaining a highly experienced and specialized workforce, the command approached the necessary reduction with a commitment to meet the end-strength target through attrition and judicious filling of critical vacancies.
This proactive approach to human resources management has succeeded to the extent that IMCOM has exceeded its reduction target through voluntary separations, retirement and cross-leveling through reassignment. The new personnel outlook is good news for protecting the workforce, but the garrisons are now anxious to fill these nearly 2,000 openings to sustain their operations.
“It’s great to see that we could continue to meet our mission requirements while still taking care of our civilian workforce,” said IMCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter.
The federal hiring system is a competitive process, designed to evaluate applicants fairly, but not necessarily quickly, especially in recruiting from outside the government. But federal regulations allow for noncompetitive consideration of the very populations IMCOM seeks to help — including current employees, transitioning Soldiers and disabled veterans.
“As we look at ways to expedite the approval process, there are steps the garrisons can take to speed the process, including streamlining the recruiting process, working in advance with the CPAC [Civilian Personnel Action Center] on determining the level of competition, getting job assessments ready, considering noncompetitive selections of the current IMCOM workforce, and hiring veterans and Family members,” said IMCOM Director of Human Resources (G1) Karen Perkins.
Most hiring actions still must go to the HQ IMCOM Human Resources Management Board, or HRMB, for initial screening and a recommendation to the commanding general. When the commander approves a hiring request, he specifies whether a vacancy must be filled by a current IMCOM employee or whether it can be recruited outside the command and even outside the federal workforce.
The first step remains the IMCOM Enterprise Placement Program, or IEPP, which may provide a reassignment opportunity for a potentially vulnerable IMCOM employee who is willing to relocate. While the IEPP process is working, managers can begin their recruitment process to be ready to select if IEPP does not provide an eligible candidate.
If managers want to consider using one of the special hiring authorities laid out under Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations, there are many ways to hire transitioning Soldiers, disabled veterans and persons with disabilities noncompetitively.
“These are excellent ways to select qualified people noncompetitively, and they help disabled veterans and transitioning Soldiers, which we want to do anyway,” said Lois Keith, chief of Civilian Personnel, IMCOM G1.
One such authority is the Veterans’ Recruitment Authority, or VRA, which allows for noncompetitive appointment to positions in grades up to GS-11 of disabled veterans or veterans who served on active duty during a war, a recognized campaign or expedition, or certain other military operations. The VRA also extends to recently separated veterans.
Another opportunity is to appoint a veteran retired from active duty with a disability rating of 30 percent or more. These appointments are 60-day temporary or term to start with, but may be converted to career or career-conditional at any time. There are no grade limits with a 30-percent disability appointment, as long as the applicant meets all qualification standards.
Another talent resource is Army spouses, who normally won’t qualify for noncompetitive appointment, but often come with wide experience and varied skill sets that might not be readily available in the local talent pool. And former government employees eligible for reinstatement can be selected noncompetitively in any grade up to their former highest grade, as long as they meet qualifications.
The installation CPAC is the local resource for all civilian hiring, but especially when trying to expedite hiring through the use of noncompetitive appointments, so every action should be in consultation with them.
With the need for balance between expedited hiring and sustainable end-strengths, garrison commanders need access to more than one option when filling a critical vacancy. The headquarters will likely stay very involved in the hiring process for the foreseeable future in the interest of sheltering the workforce from future adverse actions due to civilian reductions.
Options do exist, however, and using the hiring authorities provided can help garrisons fill their critical vacancies while also providing opportunity for some deserving candidates.