A federal hiring freeze imposed by President Trump prevents the U.S. Mint from
filling two vacancies on the engraving staff of the nation’s coin bureau.
The engraving staff is based at the Philadelphia Mint.
Jim Licaretz retired from the engraving staff at the end of
December, eight months after Charles L. Vickers’ retirement.
U.S. Mint officials were already working on seeking a replacement
for Vickers before the Nov. 9 general election in which Trump was
elected as the nation’s 45th president.
Work had also begun to fill the vacancy created by Licaretz’s
departure when Trump’s hiring freeze was announced Jan. 23.
The two retirements left the engraving staff with five artists to create and sculpture coin and
medal designs, with assistance in design creation from members of the
U.S. Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program. The vacancies have
not yet impacted execution of the overall workload of the engraving staff.
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“We are constantly analyzing our workload, employee skills and
capability,” U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White said through an email
statement April 6. “Through the application of hybrid technology, the
U.S. Mint now uses computer aided tools for design and sculpt
refinement combined with traditional sculpting techniques.
“The hiring freeze requires that the plans to fill vacant positions
on the engraving staff — including those of sculptor engravers — be
placed on hold until further notice.
“At this time, there has been no impact on design and sculpting output.”
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White said the Artistic Infusion Program, instituted in 2003 to
utilize outside artists to augment the Mint’s own engraving staff, has
become a valuable resource for the U.S. Mint.
“The Artistic Infusion Program is a key resource that enables the
Mint to enhance the design portfolios when there is a high demand for
designs and a competing requirement for sculpting,” White said.
“Sculpting always takes precedence over design creation, as the
members of the engraving staff craft approved designs into
three-dimensional renderings that are used to create coins and medals.
There are no external sculpting and engraving resources.”