Obama wants agencies to speed up federal hiring
President Obama has given federal agencies marching orders to drastically overhaul the federal hiring process for government workers. The change may reduce by 50 percent the time it takes to fill vacancies. The hope is that the president’s executive order will enable federal agencies to match the private sector in the recruiting process.
The order, part of the White House’s initiative to bring a 21st Century approach to the federal hiring system, comes shortly after the president issued a memorandum to federal agencies directing them to overhaul their hiring procedures within 180 days. “Federal workers fill crucial roles that defend Americans from terrorism, infectious diseases, food-borne pathogens, forest fires and countless other threats,” U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director John Berry said at an event announcing the order.
“We can’t afford delays in filling these jobs, nor can we rely on a system that causes qualified candidates to give up in frustration. President Obama and I believe that we must cut the red tape clogging the federal hiring process in order to bring aboard outstanding applicants quickly,” Berry added.
The president’s memorandum directed federal agencies to:
- Reduce the time between when a job is announced and is filled.
- Eliminate Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) essays as an initial application requirement. Essays may still be used later in the process. Under the previous system, if an individual applied for five separate federal jobs, he or she often needed to complete five separate sets of essays.
- Use shorter, plain-language job announcements.
- Accept resumes from applicants, instead of requiring them to submit complex applications.
- Allow hiring managers to choose from among a group of best-qualified candidates, rather than limiting their choice to just three names, through expanded use of category ratings.
- Notify applicants in a timely manner, at four points in the process, regarding the status of their application.
- Submit a hiring and recruitment plan for top talent to OPM by the end of this year.
- When they visit colleges on official business, Cabinet-level and senior administration officials will discuss career opportunities in the federal service with students.
At the president’s direction, OPM will:
- Design a government-wide plan for recruiting and hiring qualified, diverse talent.
- Review the Federal Career Intern Program and, within 90 days, offer a recommendation to the president on its future and on providing effective pathways into the federal service for college students and graduates.
One of the goals of the overhaul is to cut hiring time to about 80 days from the date a vacancy is announced to the point a candidate is hired. In several federal agencies, it can take up to 150 days to complete the hiring process.
The Government Accountability Office, unions, advocates of government efficiency, and both Democrats and Republicans have urged improvements in the federal employment setup.
The changes in the hiring process are to go into effect no later than Nov. 1, 2010.
As part of the initiative, the OPM is launching a website that will guide federal agencies and hiring managers through the change.