OPM gives agencies an AI hiring playbook

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The latest workforce guidance from the Office of Personnel Management covers the existing pay, leave and workforce flexibilities agencies can use to attract and keep AI talent.

Agencies looking to staff up on artificial intelligence talent can now find a consolidated guide that summarizes information on existing pay, leave and workforce flexibilities available for AI  specialists and other key government technology roles.

The Tuesday guidance from the Office of Personnel Management comes months after a sweeping executive order on AI issued last fall that included a number of mandates around hiring AI experts and retraining current feds on the technology, both of which stakeholders say will be critical to the success of the executive order overall. The order specifically established a to-do item for OPM to issue guidance on how agencies could use existing pay flexibilities for AI positions. 

Most of the flexibilities and authorities in the guidance don’t require OPM’s approval before agencies use them, although there are some, such as critical pay, that do require OPM approval, the guidance states.

“Agencies have considerable discretionary authority to use a variety of pay flexibility, incentive pay, and leave and workforce flexibility programs to support their recruitment, relocation, and retention efforts for AI, AI-enabling, and other key technical employees,” it says, noting that agencies can use different flexibilities simultaneously to recruit and retain talent. 

In addition to pay incentives, agencies can also tap into leave and workforce flexibilities like allowing feds to clock in during alternative work hours outside of the usual five-day work week or work remotely, OPM says. 

OPM has already authorized governmentwide direct hire authorities for certain, AI-related jobs, as well as temporary, excepted service appointments under Schedule A for positions supporting implementation. Other to-do items for OPM in the executive order itself include a pooled hiring action and guidance on skills-based hiring for AI, data and tech talent.