Effective December 7, 2016, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced a moratorium on the processing of SES Qualifications Review Board (QRB) cases Government-wide, in order to ensure that incoming agency heads “have the full opportunity to exercise his or her prerogative to make or approve executive resources decisions” that will impact the agency’s performance during that agency head’s tenure.

In essence, this means that OPM’s QRB will not process candidates for career SES appointments.

There are exceptions to this moratorium; these include:

  • Agencies whose Agency Heads are not required by the President during a transition. This includes Agency Heads who have fixed-term appointments, Inspector Generals (IG), and those serving on part-time boards and commissions, among others.
  • Graduates of OPM-approved SES Candidate Development Programs (CDP) who Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) are submitted under what is called Criterion B.
  • Cases that were already in the pipeline prior to the moratorium. If a SES candidate’s package was submitted prior to December 7, 2016, processing will continue. This includes candidates whose initial package was rejected in whole or in part.
  • Specific exceptions to the moratorium initiated by individual agencies in cases where the potential for adverse impact on national security, homeland security, or a critical agency mission, program or function. Exceptions must be approved by OPM.

Despite the moratorium, agencies may still post and conduct SES merit staffing activities up to the point of submission of the selected candidate for QRB review and certification for SES appointment. This means that SES positions may be posted and interviews held.

Once a new Agency Head has been appointed, agencies may request that OPM resume processing QRB cases.

Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.