HHS Issues Final Rule to Increase Professional Development Opportunities for Career Civil Servants, Harmonize HR Practices

Health and Human Services Announces Upcoming Funding Action to Provide $186 Million for COVID-19 Response

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a rule complimenting an action Congress took in regards to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the 21st Century Cures Act, by enacting five-year terms for certain policy level Directors or their equivalents across all operating divisions.

Examples of included positions are HRSA Office Directors, CDC Center Directors, and FDA Center Directors.  This action furthers the Department’s commitment to good governance, thoughtful and serious management, diversity, public accountability, and workforce development. It also allows harmonization of human resource practices for HHS leaders in similar positions.

“Most Americans have performance reviews every year, Congress faces election every two years, and presidents every four; requesting reviews of agency leaders twice a decade is common sense management, reinforces our commitment to diversity and workforce development, and builds on recent congressionally mandated term limits at NIH,” said HHS Chief of Staff Brian Harrison.

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As is the case with the Senate, terms will expire on staggered dates beginning in December 2021. When a term expires, the Center Director can be re-appointed to the same position and if not, the employee must be appointed somewhere else within the agency. This is the same process Congress applied to the NIH.

In order to fulfill its public-oriented mission, the Department needs to attract and retain highly capable officials committed to public service. This final rule will increase and accelerate opportunities for career officials to rise within the ranks of their agencies, and will allow the Department and the American people to benefit from a more expansive diversity of backgrounds and experiences of senior HHS leaders. Just as Congress did decades ago with the Senior Executive Service (SES) corps, this final rule will also help HHS better attract the leaders of tomorrow – while still retaining existing talent.

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Read the rule here.

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