There will be a minimum delay of two months before the government begins a controversial "special emphasis" hiring program designed to bring women and minorities into federal jobs by allowing them to bypass regular merit hiring procedures.
Officials originally hoped to have the so-called Sugarman Plan formally approved by today. And they wanted to have it operating on an experiemental basis in some agencies by mid-July.
That timetable has been upset because of the problems involved in devising the politically explosive hiring plan, and then selling it to the public, Congress and the bureaucracy itself. The proposal is the brainchild of Jule Sugarman, vice chairman of the Civil Service Commission.
Sugarman was the primary innovator of the Head Start program during the Johnson administration, and is an old political ally of President Carter.
Under the special emphasis hiring plan, known in federal circles as the Sugarman Plan, CSC would study various occupations governmentwide to determine if women or minorities are "under represented" in that particular career field.
If it were determined that the percentage of women, blacks, Hispanic-Americans, Oriental-Americans, American-Indians, Aleuts or Eskimos was too low, agencies would be encouraged to recruit them. To aid in the process, up to 20 percent of all jobs in those occupations could be set aside each year for "special emphasis" hiring.
Special emphasis would mean that candidates would not have to pass regular civil service tests for the jobs. They could be hired based on their potential as determined by specially trained CSC and agency personnel experts in each federal department.
Persons hired under the special-emphasis Program would serve a two-year probationary period, receiving the full federal civil service salary and benefits for their job and grade. At the end of that time, if it were determined they were fully qualified and hard-working, they could be converted to regular civil service career status.
To determine whether women or minorities are "under represented" CSC would take race and sex data on employes already in those federal occupations and match them with corresponding data in the private sector or with the percentage of minority group members in the labor force.
In the case of professional jobs, the government would be able to determine the number of trained minority professionals, or numbers employed in the field in industry, and compare it with government employment of women and minorities in those jobs.
While the Sugarman Plan has drawn praise from national civil rights organizations and women's groups, it has also gotten serious criticism from professional organizations in and out of government, from Capitol Hill and from organized ethnic lobbies not included in the government's definition of minority groups.
Backers say the Sugarman Plan - which would be tested for several years - is no different than other federally run social action employment programs such as giving preference to veterans.
People against the Sugarman plan say that it is a "quota" system cynically disguised as a special-emphasis hiring test.
Critics also argue that Sugarman is trying to build a constituency for himself among the nation's minority groups that would give him backing for a higher federal job, such as the next secretary of HEW.
Whatever the merits or demerits of the plan, it is controversial and complicated. Federal officials have decided to publish the proposals in the Federal Register shortly. They will ask for comments and also to hold a public hearing later this month or in early July.
Officials say they also must get an executive order from the president that would allow for the "conversions" of minority and women candidates to regular civil service jobs once their extended probationary periods of two years are up.
In addition, experts say they will need six weeks to train CSC and agency personnel officials in how to operate the Sugarman Plan. That means it will be at least 10 weeks before the special hiring plan can recruit and place the first group of people.
Position Classifiers: The American Federation of Government Employes has a Grade 11 or 12 opening. Call RE 7-8700, ext. 277.
Attorneys: The postal Rate Commission is looking for a GS 11 or 12 trial attorney and also has a GS 13 or 14 job. Call 254-3880.