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NOAA Workforce Management Office

Serving NOAA's Most Valuable Asset - People

NOAA Supervisory Resource Guide

How Do I Fill a Vacancy?

Typical Scenario: One of your employees leaves, and you need to fill the position.

Principle: Managers have flexibility in filling vacancies, but they must exercise that flexibility within budget constraints, laws, and regulations designed to ensure that all placement decisions are made on the basis of merit.

Where Do I Start? After you have checked to be sure that funds are available to fill the position, call your WFMO Advisor and explain your interest in recruitment.

Rules and Flexibilities: As a Federal manager, you usually have several choices in filling vacancies. These include: promoting an internal candidate; hiring from outside the Government; reassigning a current employee at the same grade level who qualifies for your job; filling the job on a temporary basis through a detail or temporary promotion of a current employee, or the temporary appointment of someone from outside the Government; transfer of a qualified employee from another part of your agency or another Government agency; reinstatement of a prior career civil service employee; or use of a special authority such as a summer hire or handicapped appointment. Additionally, you have choices such as length of time to advertise a position, recruitment sources, recruitment methods, what grades to recruit for, and use of monetary and non-monetary incentives to attract candidates.

Regardless of how you choose to fill the job, you must follow merit staffing rules established in regulations and any applicable labor agreement. The rules also require that you may have to give selection priority to applicants who have veterans’ preference or who are covered by a Career Transition Assistance Plan or other programs designed to assist employees who have been terminated or downgraded because of reduction-in-force.

Check with your WFMO Advisor/Specialist to determine when the situation requires the posting of a vacancy announcement. Depending on factors such as the work to be performed, duration of the job, or special recruitment considerations, several programs offer options for making noncompetitive, i.e., faster appointments. The following are some examples.

Issues to Consider: The following issues should be resolved in coordination and consultation with your WFMO Advisor once your budget contact has confirmed that funds are available:

Basic Steps: Once the basic questions are answered, use the following steps to do the actual recruitment and make the selection:

After completion, the WFMO makes the offer and notifies the manager when a reporting date has been arranged. This is generally two weeks from the date the offer is accepted, but can be longer depending on factors such as the new employee’s need to relocate to a different geographic area, or whether he/she needs to remain at the prior job to complete a project.

Time Frames: Filling a vacancy can take from several weeks to several months depending on a variety of circumstances including, but not limited to the flexibilities you consider utilizing, the length of time the announcement is open, the area of consideration for the job, etc. Please consult your WFMO Advisor/Specialist regarding realistic time frames given the manner/methods you would like to consider in filling the position.

Good Management Practices:


A Note on SES:

To initiate an SES recruitment action, the following information is required.

1. An SF-52 requesting recruitment signed by the appropriate requesting official (usually the Assistant Administrator), and naming the Under Secretary as the approving official. WFMO will forward the SF-52 to the Under Secretary for signature.
2. A CD-516 signed by the first and second line supervisors in Part A (Position Description) ONLY.
3. A diskette and hard copy of the Position Description (PD) including any revisions and/or updates. SES Pds are not included in the PD Library system. Review the position description thoroughly to ensure its content is current. At a minimum, be certain the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) and Supervisory Controls sections are up-to-date.
4. A diskette and hard copy of the Rating and Evaluation (Crediting) Plan. NOAA uses a standard crediting plan for all SES positions which must be submitted with all SES recruit actions.
5. A position justification memo from the Assistant Administrator to the Under Secretary which outlines: 1) how and where the job fits into the Commerce strategic plan and bureau operating plan; 2) the benefits of filling the position; 3) anticipated consequences of not filling the position; and 4) your recruitment outreach strategy, including identification of candidates in under-represented groups.
6. List, specifically, any publications in which you would like to advertise the position, any monetary limitations, accounting/appropriation codes to pay for advertising, and name of the approving official. Remember, when justifying your selection to the Appointing Authority/Under Secretary you must describe what has been done to recruit for a diverse workforce.
7. Provide advice as to how long you would like the vacancy announcement open (minimum 30 days), and the area of consideration (either All Qualified Persons or Federal Employees Only). FYI - most of NOAAs vacancies are open to all qualified persons.
8. Position sensitivity designation (e.g., critical sensitive with access to secret information).
9. When recruiting for a position which is not yet vacant, the current incumbent must provide a memorandum in writing giving formal notification of intent and a proposed date of retirement/resignation.

A Note on the Commerce Alternative Personnel System (CAPS):

The CAPS authorizes management to use two delegated examining processes to fill positions, in addition to the Merit Assignment Program noted above. The Direct-Hire option may be used with certain restrictions to hire employees in identified critical shortage occupations or employees that qualify as critical shortage highly qualified candidates. The Direct-Hire option requires the use of open vacancy announcements rather than individual vacancy announcements and is designed to streamline the hiring process for hard-to-fill positions. The Agency-Based option is used to recruit candidates from outside the Federal government, and functions in the same manner as the delegated examining authority granted to Federal agencies from the Office of Personnel Management. All Merit Systems Principles are observed in using either.

Page last edited: March 13, 2018

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