rumors that the Social Security Administration hopes to begin hiring new ALJs in the near future. If this is true, drawing up a plan to evaluate ALJ candidates and getting everyone at the agency on board so quickly is surprising.
There are essentially no limits on how "excepted service" hiring is done. The agency can get away with almost anything without breaking any law.
Haste combined with a lack of legal limits makes me worry.
I hope everyone involved realizes that if Democrats get control of the House of Representatives after the November election, as now appears likely, the House Social Security Subcommittee will be holding a hearing on ALJ hiring early next year where Social Security officials will have to explain what process they have used or will be using. Here's some things that probably wouldn't go over too well if that hearing happens:
- A secretive process with no announced selection criteria
- A lack of public notice of job openings
- Political influence on the hiring process, such as candidates being hired because of recommendations from the White House or members of Congress
- ALJ jobs used to give a soft landing to Congressional staffers who lose their jobs if Democrats win control of the House of Representatives
- Ideological bias in the hiring process
- Job candidates being vetted by outside groups who are not otherwise involved with Social Security ALJs, such as the Federalist Society
- Personal favoritism in the hiring process
- A lack of diversity among those hired
- Hiring only from within the agency
- Lots of hiring of agency employees nearing retirement who only want to work as ALJs for a short time in order to increase their retirement benefits
- Using ALJ jobs to clear deadwood out of Social Security's Office of General Counsel or other parts of Social Security