AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Update: VA exempts dozens of jobs from hiring freeze

Update: VA will exempt almost 75 jobs from hiring freeze.

If you're job hunting, you can cross some Georgia openings off your list for now, because of the hiring freeze President Trump ordered.

Hundreds of Georgia openings are posted on USAJobs.gov, the website that lists federal job vacancies. Many are for military uniformed personnel, which Trump exempted from the freeze. So those still can be filled. Most of the rest are at the Centers for Disease Control, VA Medical Centers and the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Good luck figuring out which jobs are frozen and which might still be available, if you want to join the ranks of the 70,000-s0me federal civilian workers in the state.

With his executive order, Trump said the head of any executive department or agency can fill jobs tied to national security and public safety.

No blanket exemption was given, though, to the short-staffed VA, to the dismay of some members of Congress, including Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson. However, openings for front-line caregivers can be filled.

Civilian members of the military aren't exempted, either. That could include openings in Georgia for dental technician, optometrists, a lactation nurse consultant and other civilians working at military installations in Georgia.

Otherwise, it's not clear which jobs at which agencies might be covered by the exemptions for public safety and national security.

Openings at the Bureau of Prisons in Atlanta include jobs for a cook, nurses and a clinical psychologist. Exempt or not?

A long list of CDC openings includes ones for a public health analyst, a research microbiologist, a medical officer for public health, an epidemiologist, a security specialist, and a lead health scientist. Vital to public safety or national security?

The VA needs a therapeutic radiologic technologist in Atlanta and social worker and nurses in Dublin. In Augusta, openings are listed for a physician as deputy chief of staff, a clinical pharmacist, a registered nurse in the emergency department, a nurse practitioner for wound care, and the chief of orthopedic surgery, among others.

Take note, you won't find many openings at the federal agencies that some love to hate - the IRS, HUD and EPA. Other agencies have a spattering of openings: Customs and Border Protection needs a general attorney. The Federal Highway Administration wants a civil engineer; the FAA, a community planner and aviation safety inspector;  FEMA, a grants management specialist.

The freeze is to last up to 90 days, or until a plan goes into effect to reduce the number of federal government employees. Here's the federal employment picture in Georgia, not including the postal service, according to a recent snapshot:

Civilian employees at cabinet level agencies like DOT, DOE, Labor, Veterans Affairs and DHHS: 67,003

Civil employees at independent agencies like EPA, FCC, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Social Security Administration: 4,722


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About the Author

Lois Norder is Senior Editor for Investigations in the newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.