US Coins

Hiring freeze prevents Mint from filling vacancies

The federal hiring freeze is preventing the U.S. Mint from filling vacancies on its engraving staff created by the March 2016 retirement of Sculptor-Engraver Charles L. Vickers, and December retirement of Jim Licaretz, illustrated,

Image by Coin World Senior Editor Paul Gilkes.

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.” 

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