Seasonals Exempt from Federal Hiring Freeze

According to this article, “”Park rangers and firefighters hired each summer to serve the nation’s public lands appear to be exempt from the freeze, according to a memo issued Tuesday evening by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.”

The memo says this applies to, “Appointment of seasonal employees and short-term temporary employees necessary to meet traditionally recurring seasonal workloads, provided that the agency informs its OMB Resource Management Office in writing in advance of its hiring plans.” And others.

11 Comments

  1. i work for the blm. we have yet to receive word that it is ok for us to hire any positions, including seasonals. the only positions that seem to be exempt are those for public safety such as law enforcement and fire fighters, but we haven’t received clarification. as of now, we have yet to receive any official word that it is ok to hire seasonals other than fire fighters; and not everyone agrees that is ok to hire firefighters.

  2. If I read the memo correctly, there’s no barrier to hiring seasonals.

    However, this is disturbing, as folks in the Recent Graduates Program are out in the cold:

    h. Appointments made under the Pathways Internship and Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Programs (this does not include the Recent Graduates Program). Agencies should ensure that such hires understand the provisional nature of these appointments and that conversion is not guaranteed.

    • Usually new administrations paint things with a broad brush.. no new hires, whoops only important ones like law enforcement and fire, and the they look into the details of the various hiring programs like Recent Graduates and so on. Meanwhile people are retiring all the time. Can’t say that this administration won’t be very different from usual, but again, usually 1) someone puts out an order, 2) people and agencies push back, 3) order is clarified. And unfortunately, many people have been caught in the middle of various hiring freezes.

  3. Does anyone find it odd that temporary employees are deemed to be “necessary to meet traditionally recurring seasonal workloads…”? One could also construe the wording to say that Permanent Seasonal employees could be hired, meeting the written exemption. I highly doubt much of that will be happening.

    The USFS is still in a workforce crisis, and it is only going to get worse. In training new temps every season, and even losing employees during the season (because the job wasn’t fun and easy) is always a possibility, is bound to slow down production and quality of work. With little chance of a career, temporaries will continue to come and go. The days of being loyal for years, to one Ranger District, in the hopes of getting on permanent, are long gone.

    • There are cases where temporary funding may come from the WO or grants for only a few years, so hiring a permanent seasonal is not a wise decision – the Joint Chiefs Projects are funded for up to 3 years, the “Supplemental Fuels” projects are annual. These can add a substantial amount of funding to a forest or district, but it is “here today, gone tomorrow” funding.

      • Well, it is also not a good idea to limit the employees who have the biggest workloads, too. I guess they COULD use GS-9’s to fill in (as timbermarkers), after the temps have used up their 1039 hours. I wonder if Trump will change the OPM hiring rules for temporaries, thinking that 100’s of experienced people will magically appear. The smartest of temporaries should be leaving the Forest Service, due to a lack of a career ladder.

  4. Here in California, if the Forest Service only hires enough temporaries to “meet traditionally recurring seasonal workloads”, they will fall far short of the levels needed to deal with the 100,000,000+ dead trees we have in the State. This will also include temporary ‘Ologists’ needed to survey for the vast acreages affected by bark beetles. Back in the 1988-1993 drought, our Ranger District had dozens of temps in timber and another several dozen doing necessary surveys. I highly doubt that they will find enough experienced personnel willing to ‘pimp themselves out’ for 6 months of work. If they don’t take action this summer, we’ll probably see service contracts for roadside hazard trees, due to a lack of value in the rotten trees. We will also not be seeing salvage projects using helicopters, as well.

    Welcome to the Trump Forest Service!

  5. I’ve been working seasonally as a 1039 in timber. As of right now I don’t know if I’ll have a job again doing that. My coworkers in other resource areas are in the same boat. The word is only firefighters can be hired. Nothing official yet on timber, recreation, wildlife and so forth. In May I will no longer qualify for a pathways recent graduates position (2 years since graduation then) and the freeze means no chance at that at all. I don’t think much will be accomplished for timber sales this summer with only permanent foresters doing the field work on top of the office work behind the timber sales. Same for wildlife, recreation, etc. I’d really hate to have to go private sector forestry but it seems Trump is intent on gutting the government. I like that the forest service can focus on quality management over production alone, and there won’t be any fire details in the private sector, but a permanent forest service job is seemingly getting less in reach. It’s very discouraging.

    • If I was in your situation, in this political climate, you might start researching into the probability of outsourced timber fieldwork. I did that within the Forest Service’s own Timber Experts And Measurement Services (TEAMS). You would need to hook up with a Forester who can jump through all the Contracting hoops. An excellent timber crew can cover a lot of acres in a week’s worth of work. Get some other temporary timber guys and form your own crew, as that is probably the way of the future.

      Also, in reading the memo, there were some exemptions intended for regular seasonal workloads, probably including timber. The Agency decision is still, apparently, ‘in transit’.

  6. The devil is in the details. Yes, there’s an exemption for seasonals but no, it isn’t automatic or blanket. Every agency that wants to hire seasonals has to come up with a plan for how many it wants to hire and for what purposes, and get that plan approved at the Department/OMB levels. So those of us in the field are waiting for that (ridiculous) process to take place until HRM can do anything to fill our positions. When will that be done? Who knows.

    • I just wonder how much a difference there is between hiring experienced timber temps…. and hiring ‘warm bodies’, right off the street. In the Sierra Nevada, how will Forests know how many temps will be needed for the unfinished salvage logging plans? Will salvage trees be “designated by description”, and cut without being painted by Federal personnel? Questions… questions…. questions. Meanwhile, the clock continues to tick.

      If Trump is seeking to de-regulate the Forest Service, how long will that process take? It took the Bush Administration FOUR YEARS to amend the Sierra Nevada Framework, (which was successfully litigated in court).

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