Section 875 of the 2019 NDAA would authorize direct-hire authority for acquisition professionals. Direct-hire authority (DHA) is a hiring authority that the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) can grant to Federal agencies for filing vacancies in specific occupations, grade levels, and locations when it can be proven that there is a critical hiring need or a severe shortage of candidates. DHA expedites the hiring process by eliminating veterans' preferences, ranking and rating, as well as other time-consuming and onerous selection procedures.
Currently, DHA is granted to IT positions (including cyber-security), veterinary medical officers, medical occupations, Iraqi reconstruction, and certain Federal acquisition positions. Sadly, there is no direct hire authority for contract auditors at this time.
The Government depends upon skilled acquisition and program personnel to
- understand complex market dynamics,
- develop clear requirements,
- negotiate in the best interest of the taxpayers, and
- hold contractors to high performance standards.
The expediency that direct-hire authority allows can be helpful to an agency both in meeting critical initiatives that may require particular expertise, such as to support information technology modernization, cyber-security efforts, and real property acquisition and disposal, as well as supporting the Federal Government as it plans and executes on its agency and regulatory reform activities (e.g. Sectional 809 Panel).
DHA offers a distinct advantage to agencies in that they are able to recruit to fill vacant positions at universities.