(WASHNGTON) – The president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the nation’s largest federal employee labor union, sent a letter to President Obama, this week, asking him to end or revise the Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP). AFGE National President John Gage criticized the FCIP, saying it undermined merit system protections and restricted the federal, competitive hiring process.
“The federal workforce is the premier workforce in the world,” said Gage. “Our members succeed at every level, at home and abroad. In order to ensure that the hiring system continues to recruit the best and brightest it is imperative that it be competitive and transparent.”
The FCIP was originally created by Executive Order 13162 on July 6, 2000 as an excepted service hiring authority under the oversight of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).As an excepted service hiring authority, the FCIP gave federal departments and agencies enormous power to hire employees without using the competitive hiring process or public notice.
AFGE has had grave concerns about the program’s weaknesses and propensity for violating basic fairness in federal hiring since the program was originally introduced. At that time AFGE was vocal about its concern that the FCIP would swallow the rule of competitive hiring. In response to those concerns OPM asserted that the FCIP would only be used as part of a series of improvements to the federal hiring process. Now, such agencies as Citizenship and Immigration Services, (ICE), the Social Security Administration, (SSA), and the Department of Homeland Security, (DHS) rely on the program for thousands of new hires.
AFGE believes that the FCIP represents the unrestricted use of a hiring authority that grants managers total control over a subjective hiring process. FCIP, also gives managers unregulated control over newly hired employees, whose entire tenure is characterized by the absence of procedural due process protections.
“If not eliminated or dramatically revised, FCIP’s inherent lack of transparency has the ability to undermine basic civil service protections that date back to the Pendleton Act over 100 years ago,” said Gage. “The FCIP simply is not compatible with merit system protections. And, we know that the federal workforce cannot succeed at the expense of merit systems principles or at the expense of competitive fairness.”