As the Disability Program Manager (DPM) or Selective Placement Coordinator (SPC) for your agency, you are on the front lines of the battle to improve hiring opportunities for individuals with disabilities. And it is a battle!! When it comes to hiring, accommodating, and/or advancing people with disabilities, you are likely the go-to person for Human Resources (HR) personnel, as well as for hiring mangers. You are no stranger to the barriers faced by people with disabilities trying to get hired or attempting to advance in the federal government. You are also probably familiar with the attitudinal biases of hiring managers. So what can you do to further the goals of your program?
Become a well-informed advocate of Schedule A! The Schedule A hiring authority is one of the best weapons in your arsenal. It addresses one of the most common complaints about the federal hiring process – that it takes too long – while furthering the need to hire and advance more individuals with disabilities. As noted by the Merit Systems Protection Board in its report entitled Reforming Federal Hiring -- Beyond Faster and Cheaper (September 2006), it takes an average of 102 days to complete all of the steps in the competitive hiring process, from making the request, to making the appointment. Federal hiring managers do not delight in the prospect of spending three months or more trying to fill a position. Moreover, talented potential employees are lost because they do not want to wait (or cannot afford to wait) months for a hiring decision. Schedule A is an excellent alternative to the frustrating and bloated traditional hiring process. Further, it is a way for you to be part of the solution!
Using the Schedule A appointing authority, found at 5 CFR § 213.3102(u), qualified candidates who meet the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) guidelines can be hired non-competitively –
How? By following the Easy How-To Steps detailed in the next section.
1. Importantly, as a SPC/DPM, you should routinely encourage hiring managers to approach you before they approach HR when they have a position that needs to be filled. Typically, the first step in this process will be contact from a manager with a job opening. You will want to gain a very clear understanding of what competencies the ideal candidate should possess. Work with the manager to carefully consider the essential functions of the position in question.
On occasion, this first step may be in the form of contact directly from an applicant, or from HR, on behalf of an applicant, instead of from a hiring official. Where this occurs, you should:
2. Once you have a clear understanding of the job from the hiring manager, you will need to review the resumes in your “resume bank” for potential candidates. Provide the manager (or HR professional) with the resumes of those applicants who have the requisite qualifications to meet the needs of the job. The number of candidates the manager is presented with will vary greatly, depending on the level of specialty required by the job, as well as the depth of your “resume bank.”
3. The hiring official can now review the resumes and references of all applicants, conduct interviews, etc., and then make a selection. Resume and reference reviews should be thorough to accurately assess job readiness. As a SPC/DPM, you might consider assisting the hiring official with this task.
4. Once the selection decision is made, the hiring manager should relay her decision to you. At this point, you should:
That’s it!Seem easy? It is! As noted above, a skilled SPC/DPM will keep a cadre of Schedule A eligible candidates on stand-by (this can take the form of a “resume bank” or “Schedule A Registry,” and should include people with the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities needed to succeed in the major occupations of the agency), so that you can assist busy hiring managers to very quickly fill job openings. No more three, six, or nine month waits!!
The Federal Government – Opportunities for All!
There are limited resources available for the SPC/DPM. It may be difficult to know where to start, what to do, and/or how to help, particularly for people new to the position. Don’t be discouraged! You have the opportunity to develop new practices that may serve as a positive example for the rest of the government. The following tips are offered as a supplement to the Resources section of this quick-reference guide.
Q. What is Schedule A?
A. Schedule A is an appointing authority, or hiring authority. It is an Excepted Service appointment for persons with disabilities. The regulations guiding the Excepted Service – Appointment of Persons with Disabilities, Career, and Career-Conditional Appointments – are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The citation is 5 CFR § 213.3102(u).
Q. Why should agencies consider using this hiring authority?
A. Agencies should use this hiring authority for a number of good reasons:
Q. What about accommodations? Aren’t they expensive and a hassle?
A. No! More often than not, providing accommodations is simple and usually free! Moreover, you are not alone in trying to work through accommodation requests. Your agency may have a person who serves as the Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (RAC), to help with accommodation needs. There are also several resources outside of your agency which can help, some of which are listed herein – just check our Resources page! And remember, just as we all need assistance at some point in the work place, accommodations may be needed by an individual with a disability. We want all employees to be at their best at work, and accommodations play a role in reaching that goal. Providing accommodations, however, does not have to be a difficult, expensive or time consuming process.
Q. Is this appointment to a permanent position?
A. It can be. Agencies may self-determine what type of placement to make, based on the needs of the position, as well as the qualification level of the candidate. Under the Schedule A appointing authority, a hiring agency may make a temporary appointment, a time-limited appointment when the duties of the position do not require it to be filled on a permanent basis, or a permanent appointment. Agencies are strongly encouraged to make permanent appointments unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.
Q. What about a probationary period?
A. Depending on the type of appointment, probationary periods typically last up to two years. Schedule A candidates should be held to the same performance standards as all other employees. Once the employee’s accommodation needs, if any, have been met, then you should expect no more or less from a Schedule A employee than you would from any other employee. Once the probationary period has been successfully completed, employees should be converted to permanent competitive status.
EARN – The Employer Assistance & Recruiting Network (EARN) is a free service that connects employers looking for quality employees with skilled job candidates. EARN provides recruiting services, as well as employer success stories. Moreover, if you need to make the business case for hiring people with disabilities, EARN can provide you with the information you need! Further information can be found at http://earnworks.com/.
WRP – The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal sector employers nationwide with highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplace through summer or permanent jobs. Students represent all majors, and range from college freshmen to graduate students and law students. A searchable database is available through the WRP website. WRP is ready to help you fill your summer or permanent hiring needs! Further information can be found at http://wrp.gov.
For Veterans with Disabilities – There are numerous organizations and agencies that exist to assist veterans with disabilities find and maintain employment. The following is a sample of useful resources to keep handy:
Advocacy Groups – There are several different advocacy groups that also serve as excellent resources for recruiting and hiring individuals with disabilities. The following is a sampling of those resources:
Federal Resources – There are numerous federal programs designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities in finding employment. The following is a non-exhaustive list of programs/resources:
CAP – Within the federal government there is a wonderful program housed within the Department of Defense. The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) provides assistive technology and services to people with disabilities throughout the federal government FREE OF CHARGE! That means you can tap this resource for help in accommodating an employee with a disability. CAP will do the needs assessment, buy the needed technology, train the employee on how to use it, and follow up with updates. All you have to do is ask! (Note: Before contacting CAP directly, check with the RAC, as they may already have a relationship with CAP.) Further information can be found at http://www.tricare.mil/cap/.
JAN – The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) represents the most comprehensive resource for job accommodations available, and is a terrific and easy-to-use resource. This free consulting service is designed to increase the employability of people with disabilities. JAN provides individualized worksite accommodation solutions, as well as information on job accommodations and related subjects for employers and people with disabilities. Additional information can be found at http://www.jan.wvu.edu/.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
1-800-669-4000 / TTY 1-800-669-6820