Alex Parker, at sister publication Government Executive, ponders whether we could ramp up another New Deal within the current Federal hiring framework. He points out that in the past, the federal government has waived its hiring requirements, on a small scale:
Many of the same issues arose with the Part-Time Reemployment of Annuitants Act, which made it easier for the government to re-hire former government workers on a part-time basis, without going through the civil service procedure. Ultimately, that act became law, once strong restrictions were placed on how long these part-time workers could work, and how many could be hired. Some unions still opposed it, but because it included that compromise--and because it was wrapped into other legislation which the unions desperately wanted--the overall opposition was relatively mild.
It's not the first loophole in the federal hiring process--as Alyssa has noted before, it's literally filled with them. But could you do the same thing for a larger project to hire thousands, maybe millions, or unemployed Americans? And would it be a good idea? Well, that's where it gets more complicated.
Every bureaucracy creates workarounds for itself in order to ease really intolerable frictions (and occasionally to help out some special interest group). But could you really use this sort of loophole to hire a few million people on a full time basis? As Parker points out, the bigger the program is, the harder it is to make that sort of thing work.