Senators Unveil Bill to Streamline Federal Hiring
A Senate bill introduced today would reshape the federal government's hiring and recruitment process, forcing agencies to post job announcements in plain writing and fill vacancies in no more than 80 days. The Federal Hiring Process Improvement Act of 2009, introduced by Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) George Voinovich (R-Ohio), is the most recent legislative attempt to modernize the government's hiring and recruitment process.
“Too many federal agencies have built entry barriers for new workers and invented evaluation processes that discourage qualified candidates,” Akaka said in a statement. “Like the private sector, agencies need to take advantage of modern technology to find and hire the right candidates."
“Over and over, we hear of the problems in the federal hiring process. It takes too long; it is too burdensome, and so forth,” Voinovich said in the same statement. “The quality of technology has improved, but our processes have not."
Akaka is the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) subcommittee on government management, the federal workforce and District of Columbia. Voinovich is the ranking Republican. Committee staffers hear anecdotal complaints almost everyday about the federal hiring process. They cite a May 2008 washingtonpost.com live discussion with then-Federal Diary columnist Stephen Barr for some examples:
"The Federal hiring process is ridiculous. I've applied for GS-11 attorney position in 11 agencies and had one interview, three rejection letters, and seven nonresponses," said one chat participant.
"The biggest problem with federal hiring is still that it is too slow," said another. "Qualified young people (especially new/recent grads) want/need a job now, and will take the private industry job offered because it means an income coming in, rather that waiting months for the government to act."
The subcommittee held a hearing last May that heard similar complaints. Witnesses reported problems with recruitment strategies and job vacancy announcements. Perhaps most perilous, witnesses said agencies have not adapted their recruiting process to attract young people eager to work in public service. Stronger online application systems and easy-to-understand job descriptions would help, witnesses said.
The bill's chances of passage are unclear, and committee staffers say the Obama administration is unlikely to opine until its nominee to lead the Office of Personnel Management, John Berry, wins Senate confirmation. He seemed to favor modernizing the government's hiring process during his confirmation hearing last week. The HSGAC committee is expected to approve the nomination on Wednesday and refer it to the full Senate for a vote.
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