Army hiring freeze has few soft spots

January 31, 2013

The Army has released further details on its recently imposed civilian hiring freeze, stressing that there are no specific exceptions even for hiring wounded veterans or for filling positions that have been converted from contractor performance.

The guidance follows announcements by the Army and other military services of cost-saving steps they are taking immediately, even though automatic sequestration cutting is still a month away.

In addition to the hiring freeze, defense agencies already have cut back employee travel and training and have laid off many temporary employees, among other steps. They also have raised the prospect of ordering one unpaid day off per week for virtually all of the department’s roughly 800,000 civilian employees from mid-April through September.

In its new guidance, the Army spelled out the exceptions to the hiring freeze allowing for filling vacancies deemed critical to the agency’s mission and for persons with certain job-placement rights, such as those returning from an overseas assignment or an injury. It says, for example, that internal movements of Army employees through promotion or increases of duties may continue, although only within the same commuting area.

The document says there is no exception, however, for “in-sourced positions,” meaning work moved from contractors to federal employees – an Obama administration initiative.

“There is not an Army-wide exception specific to the hiring of Wounded Warriors; however, Commanders may, in appropriate cases, exercise their authority to approve exceptions to the hiring freeze and Wounded Warriors may be placed in these positions,” it adds.

The guidance also raises the possibility of cutting back on incentive payments for recruiting or retaining employees in high-demand positions, which can be worth thousands of dollars to employees. “The use of incentives is not affected by the hiring freeze. However, Commands must fully consider the impact of payment of these incentives on their budget reduction requirements,” it says.

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Josh Hicks · January 31, 2013