Anonymous User wrote:I was offered a crim AUSA position in late December and my pre-employment security clearance is pending. Here is what I've learned from HR and AUSA contacts:
1. Bottom-line, up front: Further guidance on DOJ exemptions (including with respect to tentative offers that predate the freeze order) will be issued only after the new Attorney General (presumably Jeff Sessions) is confirmed and takes office.
2. The USAOs first thought AUSA hiring was exempt from the freeze, but received further guidance that they were not per se exempt and would have to request individual waivers or wait for the agency to request a blanket exemption. I presume that this guidance is what is reflected in the January 25 and January 31 memos from OMB.
3. Notably, AUSAs were not considered exempt public safety/national security positions in the previous hiring freeze (circa 2013).
4. The "big meeting" that another user referenced around January 26 was with OARM and the USAOs. The purpose of the meeting was to take questions from USAOs. My understanding is that the following guidance was given during this meeting was (1) the DOJ should seek as few individual waivers as possible and would thus prefer to secure a broad exemption; (2) USAOs should continue processing pre-employment paperwork for tentative offers, but await further guidance about agency exemptions before extending a final offer/start date; and (3) further guidance will be forthcoming after the new AG takes office.
So any further guidance will depend on the new AG, and won't be issued until one is appointed. If you've been watching the hearings, there is really no telling when that might happen.
I'm in a similar position, and this is all consistent with what I've heard. Only difference is that my sources have told me the opposite of #3. Each of my contacts seems unconcerned and say that crim AUSAs waiting for start date HAVE qualified as public safety in prior similar freezes. This might be because this is a different kind of freeze from 2013, but similar to other freezes that have happened before. 2013 was a budget-driven freeze, where other new administrations were policy/personnel-driven freezes.
Unfortunately, there is just no way to know what's going to happen until a new AG actually comes in and makes decisions. One upside is that this wait is eating into the 60 day freeze that the executive order says will lift once the administration has the opportunity to re-order its affairs. It would be patently insane to cut crim AUSAs in a law-and-order regime. But lots of insane things are happening.
The decision to go ahead with investigating backgrounds is interesting. Will someone frozen out of the specific job contemplated yet having passed the background check have any leverage to get into any other job?