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Virtual Hiring Manager’s Guide Blog Series: Section One – Direct Hire Authority

Collage of individuals from left to right: young man smiling, woman looking down at card, man in lab coat and stethoscope, and portrait of young woman.

This blog series is designed to assist the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Hiring Managers with meeting their workforce representational diversity aims by providing resources specific to the Native American community. This segment focuses on the Direct Hire Authority (DHA).

Section One | Special Hiring Authorities provides resources on special appointment authorities that may be used to appoint specific groups of individuals who meet the respective eligibility requirements for positions at the NIH.

Direct Hire Authority

DHA is an appointing (hiring) authority that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can grant to Federal agencies for filling 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 allows agencies to:

  • Waive the rating and ranking system (including examinations if required);
  • Suspend veterans’ preferences;
  • Eliminate the "Rule of Three" – where hiring managers are presented the top three candidates;
  • Agencies must still post vacancy announcements on USAJOBS and include information about the use of DHA, but when the agency identifies a qualified candidate, an employment offer can be made on the spot, and an appointment can be made immediately.

Obtaining Direct Hire Authority:

  • DHA may be granted either government-wide or to a specific agency after a determination has been made that there is either (1) a critical need or (2) a shortage of candidates.
  • An agency may request DHA from OPM by presenting OPM with evidence demonstrating a critical need or a shortage of candidates. Alternatively, OPM may independently determine that there is a critical need or a shortage of candidates.
  • OPM will typically provide expirations for DHA. Agencies must present additional evidence to OPM to request an extension. If no expiration is provided, OPM will periodically review the DHA.

While DHA shortens the hiring process in several areas, not all hiring procedures are affected:

  • DHA may be used for temporary, limited or term hiring, along with full-time employment;
  • Agencies may use DHA to convert employees to the excepted service, or those on temporary, limited, or term appointments to a permanent career or career-conditional appointment. Agencies must provide public notice if they use DHA to do so, follow all applicable laws and regulations, and give full consideration to all candidates;
  • DHA does not waive qualification requirements – all candidates selected using DHA must meet the same qualification requirements as other candidates;
  • DHA does not waive the one-year probationary period or restrictions on movement in the first three months;
  • DHA may still be used after the expiration only if a written employment offer was sent prior to the expiration date unless otherwise specified by OPM.

Q. What occupations are eligible for Direct Hire at the NIH?

A. The NIH has HHS approval to implement DHA for the following positions/occupational series:

  • Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist (GS-0647)
  • Medical Officer (GS-0602)
  • Nurse (GS-0610 and GS-0620)
  • Pharmacist (GS-0660)
  • Information Security (GS-2210)
  • Acquisitions, Contract Specialists (GS-1102)
  • Biological Sciences (GS-0401)
  • Physical Sciences (GS-1301)


Did You Know?

Presently, there are more than 574 federally recognized Alaska Native and American Indian (AI/AN) tribes in the United States. There are almost 245 non-federally recognized tribes. Many of those are recognized by their states and are seeking federal recognition.

*Adopted from SAMHSA AI/AN Culture Card

Three types of Alaska Native corporations exist:

  1. Village corporations own and manage lands surrounding the villages.
  2. Urban corporations own and manage lands in urban areas.
  3. Regional corporations own and manage lands outside and surrounding village corporation lands, including large tracts of land throughout the state. Regional corporations own the subsurface estate, such as mineral rights, of the village and urban corporation lands.

*Adopted from the National Congress of American Indians

What is the difference between "Indian country" and "Indian Country"?

"Indian country" is the term for the area over which the federal government and tribes exercise primary jurisdiction. It is a term with a distinct meaning in legal and policy contexts.

"Indian Country" (both words capitalized) is a broader term used to refer more generally to tribal governments, Native communities, cultures, and peoples.

*Adopted from the National Congress of American Indians

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