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OPM Boosts Pay, Benefits to Build a Federal AI Workforce

woman stares at chatgpt screen

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM)—the federal government’s HR department—issued guidance to federal agencies Feb. 27 outlining pay and benefits incentives for AI-related roles as the administration works to attract and hire workers with the latest in-demand skills.

We’ve rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other outlets to provide more context on the news.

Federal Benefits

The OPM summarized the “considerable discretionary authority” that agencies have for pay, incentive pay, leave and workforce flexibility programs for artificial intelligence and other key technical jobs. Among the benefits included in the guidance are recruitment and retention incentives, student loan repayment, a higher annual leave accrual rate for certain positions, and multiple mechanisms for allowing higher pay, alternative work schedules and remote work.


Direct-Hire Authority

The OPM announced in December 2023 that it authorized direct-hire authority for AI positions among federal agencies to create more flexibility for recruitment.

Direct-hire authority—used for critical federal hiring needs—has been given for four AI-related positions: IT specialists, AI computer engineers, AI computer scientists, and management and program analysts. A previous OPM memo in September 2023 gave direct-hire authority for data science and operations research positions.


Biden Issues Executive Order on AI

President Joe Biden’s Oct. 30, 2023, executive order emphasized the importance of AI hiring and included plans for “a national surge in AI talent in the federal government.”

(SHRM Online)

Demand for Workforce AI Skills Grows

In the coming years, the global workforce will require millions of workers with technical skills in data analysis, AI and machine learning. This means that workers who are not able to adapt and learn these new skills will be left behind in the job market.

(SHRM Online)

AI in the Workplace

These SHRM resources can help employers and employees successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems at work.

(SHRM Online)


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.