What Is Schedule A?
The Schedule A hiring authorities are a group of excepted service authorities that describe special jobs and situations for which it is impractical to use standard qualification requirements and to rate applicants using traditional competitive procedures. For example, a hiring official may use a Schedule A exception to hire attorneys because, by law, OPM cannot develop qualification standards or examinations for attorney jobs. A hiring official can also use the exceptions for other special jobs, including chaplain, law clerk trainee, medical doctor, dentist, certain interpreters, experts for consultation purposes, and some others. Of relevance to NSEP award recipients is the fact that participants in programs that require a period of government service in exchange for educational or financial support are eligible for excepted service appointments under Schedule A Authority R.
Schedule A Authority R allows NSEP award recipients to be hired for certain federal positions without competition and for a period of up to four years. Additionally, Schedule A appointments allow for some flexibility regarding traditional OPM qualification standards and veteran’s preference. Under Schedule A, these aspects of traditional procedures must only apply to the extent that they are administratively feasible.
Schedule A Authority R is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations, (CFR) 213.3102(r).
The rest of this section explains some of the most common ways that NSEP award recipients use the Schedule A Authority R hiring benefit (from hereon referred to simply as “Schedule A”).
How to Use Schedule A
There are three primary ways that NSEP award recipients use Schedule A:
- To apply to advertised positions that are only open to individuals with non-competitive eligibility.
- To apply to jobs that are not publicly advertised or not advertised at all (as in when an award recipients creates his or her own position)
- To apply to positions that are advertised but for which the award recipient is not eligible in the hopes of being hired for an identical Schedule A position.
Each of these methods of using Schedule A is described in more detail below.
Positions Open to Individuals with Non-competitive Eligibility
An NSEP award recipient can use Schedule A to apply for advertised positions that are open only to individuals with non-competitive eligibility. On USAJobs that generally means the NSEP award recipient can apply to any position—in addition to regular, publicly open positions—for which the announcement specifies that “non-competitive” or “excepted service” or “temporary” appointments are eligible. Note that some job announcements are open only to “certain non-competitive appointments”. In those cases, the announcement will usually list which appointments are eligible.
When applying for positions that require non-competitive eligibility, an NSEP award recipient will generally require a letter of certification proving that eligibility. NSEP can provide these letters. See the section entitled Letters of Certification at the end of this chapter for more information.
The second way to use Schedule A is in applying for jobs that are not publicly advertised or not advertised at all.
Jobs that are not publicly advertised include many of those advertised exclusively on NSEPnet. It is because NSEP award recipients can be hired under Schedule A that federal offices are able to provide exclusive job opportunities to NSEP award recipients. Otherwise, the positions advertised on NSEPnet would all also have to be advertised publicly, such as on USAJobs.
The ability to apply for unadvertised positions also means that NSEP award recipients can actually create their own positions within a federal organization, so long as they have a hiring official inside that organization who is willing to support them.
Advice from NSEP Alumni
To read what other NSEP Alumni have wondered and shared about using Schedule A authority, please click here (you will need to log-in, or register for an account) and search for “Schedule A.”