Appointments to Professional and Administrative Career Positions

GGD-85-18: Published: Dec 10, 1984. Publicly Released: Jan 9, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO obtained information on appointments made to entry level professional and administrative career (PAC) positions before and after abolition of the the Professional and Administrative Career Examination (PACE), which was abolished in order to eliminate an adverse impact in the hiring of blacks and hispanics.

While the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has established a new schedule appointing authority to be used in the external hiring of employees for entry level PAC positions, it has yet to develop alternative competitive examination procedures. Since the abolition of PACE: (1) only about 1 percent of the PAC appointments were made under the new schedule; (2) three-fourths of the PAC positions were filled by promoting or reassigning current employees; and (3) other PAC positions were filled by interagency employee transfers, reinstatements of former employees, and placement programs for federal employees who were scheduled to be displaced. Over 60 percent of the new PAC appointments have been to white females who are 25-40 years old with nonveteran's preference. GAO found no indication that the new selection procedures violate federal regulations; however, there is no guarantee that, during the selection process, merit abuses will not occur. Since the use of the new schedule has been relatively limited to date, the overall impact will not be known for some time. Furthermore, present schedule appointments do not have competitive status, and appointees can only be promoted by successfully competing in the competitive examination process. According to OPM procedures, agencies' use of the new schedule will be monitored and evaluated as part of a broad personnel management evaluation study relating to federal government staffing practices.

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