In an effort to bolster its AI expertise, the Biden administration is spearheading a substantial recruitment initiative across government agencies. In a recent detailed OPM memo, The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is streamlining this process by granting direct hire authority for several key positions, including IT specialist, computer scientist, computer engineer, and management and program analyst.
The granted authority is widespread, affecting potential federal employees across the country for a variety of positions such as competitive service, career, career-conditional, term, and temporary roles.
This move is part of a larger strategy following President Joe Biden's executive order on AI issued in October, mandating OPM to coordinate the hiring of AI professionals across federal agencies.
OPM indicates that the direct hire authority is specifically for filling roles that directly support the execution of the AI executive order. The aim of the direct hire authority is to expedite the hiring process by bypassing some traditional ranking and rating procedures, usually employed when there is a critical need or a significant shortage of candidates.
In addition to these efforts, OPM enhanced hiring capabilities in September 2023 by allowing the recruitment of more senior-level professionals in fields such as data science and operations research, which further supports AI initiatives.
Despite these efforts, staffing the government with AI talent remains challenging. Recruiting adequate numbers of data and computer scientists is vital for integrating AI into governmental operations. While AI's potential in government sectors is recognized, its application is still largely in developmental stages, as noted by the Government Accountability Office.
OPM's responsibilities extend beyond hiring, including providing agencies with guidance on using existing pay structures and incentive programs to attract AI professionals and leading a pooled hiring effort to recruit AI experts into various agencies.
Those interested in joining the federal AI workforce or various fellowship programs may find opportunities listed on AI.gov. The direct hire authority for these AI-focused roles is set to continue until December 31, 2028.
In addition, there are dozens of AI-related roles within the federal government posted here.
As part of this ongoing initiative, OPM is also evaluating other AI-related positions to ensure that agencies are adequately staffed to meet their AI objectives. This initiative reflects OPM's commitment to addressing the urgent need for AI expertise within the government.