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Eye Opener: Latinos in the Federal Government

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Tuesday! We've kind of written about this before, but it's worth exploring once more:

"Latino Americans may be the nation's fastest-growing minority group, but they're also the most underrepresented among civilian federal employees," yours truly writes in Tuesday's Federal Diary column. "As of last September, Hispanics accounted for about 8 percent of the total civilian federal workforce, according to the Office of Personnel Management. That's well below the 13.2 percent of Hispanics in the national civilian labor force, according to Labor Department statistics."

More: "Of the 25 largest government agencies, 17 saw modest increases in Hispanic hires in fiscal year 2008 over fiscal 2007, with most being made at the lower- and mid-level general schedule levels. At higher levels of government, Hispanics accounted for 3.6 percent of the Senior Executive Service during fiscal year 2008, according to OPM figures.

"The overall Latino hiring disparity is equivalent to more than 100,000 jobs or roughly $5.5 billion in salaries, according to Gilbert Sandate, chairman of the Coalition for Fairness for Hispanics in Government. His group has met with White House and OPM officials to discuss the issue.

"Put another way, practically every new hire in the federal government would have to be Hispanic to make up the difference between the population size and the numbers represented in the government civilian workforce, said Jorge E. Ponce, co-chair of the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives."

So how can the government correct the issue? OPM is working on formulating a plan, according to officials, but has not yet to discuss hiring diversity with chief human capital officers. That responsibility will fall to incoming OPM deputy director Christine Griffin when she arrives soon, said OPM Chief of Staff Liz Montoya.

One thing we do know: Several agencies are trying to solve the problem.

"Across the board, a lot of departments are struggling with the hiring in general, and that is something that everyone is willing to admit," said Vince Casillas, the former Hispanic media director for the Obama campaign who is now a partner with Balsera Communications. He has met with several government agencies to discuss launching recruitment campaigns aimed at potential Latino recruits.

"There's definitely right now a deliberate and conscious effort to start reaching out to Latinos and recruiting them," Casillas said.

Do YOU have any ideas on how the government can hire more Hispanics? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama makes his first visit to the National Counterterrorism Center Tuesday. Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants military advice to Obama stay private. Lead climate change staffer in the Senate leaves for the EPA. White House Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients discusses his "listening tour." Sonia Sotomayor takes an active role on her first day on the court. Gen. David E. Petraeus successfully treated for early stage prostate cancer. The new NIH director has issues of identity and culture. The "pay czar" targets salary cuts.

Critics Don't See the Nuance in McChrystal's Comments on War: Commentators who say Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal is pressuring the White House to accept his ideas or else didn't pay close attention to his remarks last week in London.

Agencies Told To Reduce Emissions: The measure affects such things as the electricity federal buildings consume and the carbon output of federal workers' commutes.

Homeland Security to Bring 3,200 Contractor Positions In-House: Internal analyses helped officials pinpoint inherently governmental jobs. They're spread across 20 offices within the department.

GSA to Update on New DHS Headquarters Project: Parties interested in the $3.4 billion St. Elizabeth's project should mark Oct. 26 on their calendars

Ideas for Immigrant Detention Include Converting Hotels and Building Models: The Obama administration is looking to convert such facilities into immigration detention centers and to build two model detention centers from scratch as it tries to transform the way the government holds people it is seeking to deport.

SEC Holds Off on Divisive Rules: The agency soon will begin to limit short selling to keep stocks stronger during market crashes and will require new surprise audits of money managers to avoid a repeat of the Madoff scheme.

FTC Sets Endorsement Rules for Blogs: Bloggers who offer endorsements must disclose any payments they have received from the subjects of their reviews or face penalties of up to $11,000 per violation, the agency said Monday.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | October 6, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
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I spent over five years attempting to get a job with the federal government, all the while working as a contractor doing the very same job I was applying for. It took five years, despite scoring 97-100 on dozens of applications. It was hard enough competing with the preferences already in place, now I guess there may be another added to address this horrible shortcoming.

Seemingly not a great time to be an educated and experienced white male without military experience, at least in joining the federal workforce.

Posted by: wph5939 | October 6, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Now, is the federal government looking to hire Latinos in proportion to their LEGAL presence in this country, or are they considering the fact that Hispanic illegal aliens comprise a significant portion of both our population and our workforce? That much of the growth in the Latino population here is due to illegal immigration? Just why should our federal workforce reflect people who are NOT legally in this country?

Posted by: Ali4 | October 6, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

there are as many Latinos as there are blacks in the country, actually slightly more...
after comprehensive immigration reform, that number should jump to about 3 to 4 times the numbers of blacks in this country...

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 6, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Dwight is referring to amnesty. Great. We'll need more Latino bureaucrats to provide more welfare services to the legalized illegal aliens who will still be among the working poor because they are uneducated and unskilled. They'd also be able to import their equally uneducated and unskilled relatives creating yet more jobs for Latino bureaucrats. Who's going to pay for all this wonderfulness--and for their own dispossession? The U.S. taxpayers? Yet another reason why amnesty will not pass.

Posted by: Ali4 | October 6, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Groom and select qualified Hispanics as HR directors and as heads of recruitment.

Posted by: hispaniks | October 6, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

By the way, Dwight, I'm Arab-American. Arab-American students are already catching on to the fact that "minority" status brings with it benefits and lobbying for recognition as a "minority". Wouldn't surprise me if the Hispanics find they have competition from other ethnic groups in the "victim" stakes.

Posted by: Ali4 | October 6, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

I am tired of everyone bending over backwards to hire illegal Latinos. DEPORT them.

Posted by: txengr | October 6, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

You can very easily meet the arbitrary Latino quota by recruiting along the U.S. southern border. Isn't giving someone a job based on their race racism?

Posted by: TooManyPeople | October 6, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Its not time to give Hispanic govt jobs, Obama is trying to start another sffirmative action, we saw how that worked, so many un-qualified Federal employees because govt. agencies had to hire the poor uneducated, welfare using black person. Its time to deport these Hisanics, not greet them with open arms, giving them free medical, housing, finiancial help, ITS TIME FOR DEPORTATION. Why build a dentention center??? Just deport them faster, i see no reason to house these illegals for months at a time before deportation, your either here legally or or elegally, now how hard is that to figure out??? Take mabye a couple of hours???? find ouot where they are from, and our Air Force has many c-130's to use for deportation, if OBAMA can use one of his 747's to fly his wife all over the country, im sure we could use some of the c-130's, alot cheaper to fly, less fuel and dont have to worry about meals, just heard them into the 130, strap them down in jump seats and head south. OBAMA doesn't want to be President, he wants to be "KING" of the world. Well hes not smart enough to be President, let alone a fking "KING".

Posted by: pjl_45 | October 6, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

How come everyone ignores the Africans. hoew many AFRICANS are in thefederal government. Im happy you know the Latinoa numbers, but what about the AFRICANS?? there is a huge disparity there as well. What is the FED GOVT going to do about the lack of AFRICANS in the Fed govt --people from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Zimbabwe, etc.

Posted by: oba2 | October 6, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

"Hispaniks" wrote:

> Groom and select qualified Hispanics
> as HR directors and as
> heads of recruitment.

Wow, sort of like the Lithuanians and Estonians hired _only_ Russians as HT directors and heads of recruitment after the Russians INVADED?

Why yes. Exactly like that!

It's bad enough that we got invaded and the government is too cowardly to admit it, even after literally a dozen years.

To entrench and institutionalize the racism inherent in the Invasion, by emplacing relentlessly racist relatives of illegal aliens in a position whereby they can hire only their own, that's not just Institutionalized Racism, that's adding on Insitutionalized Racist Nepotism.

This sort of thing is unconscionable, and that's probably why WaPo prints it.

Posted by: thardman | October 6, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

"Seemingly not a great time to be an educated and experienced white male without military experience, at least in joining the federal workforce."

wph5939, if you voted for George Worst and his Dick, then you have only yourself to blame for making it even more difficult to get hired by the federal government. Thanks to their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are now literally hundreds of thousands of veterans, including the disabled due to war injuries, who may get preferential hirining even if they are less qualified than you for the fed's job vacancies. On the other hand, I strongly suspect that the best-paying federal jobs are still given to the able-bodied white applicants, even if they do not possess the best qualifications. The usual claim of nondiscrimination against race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, or religion is still nothing but a pure propaganda. And unless one has a concrete evidence, how can a discrimination be really cited for not being hired? It can't and all employers, whether private or public know that all too well, so they get away with discrimination on the sly.

Posted by: TalkingHead1 | October 6, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

So..what is the percentage of Latinos in the US Population?

And how many are actually legal residents? Also keep in mind, many US Govt jobs require those positions be held by US Citizens..again, how many Latinos referenced in this article are US Citizens?

And why is it that 60+% of the CBP-Border Patrol is Latino? WHy isn't that news?

Posted by: ward5354 | October 6, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

In my view, hiring and retention of minority employees -- Hispanics, women, African-Americans -- will not improve until those already onboard (some of them for a very, very long time) enter the top ranks and sit on the panels that make hiring/assignment selection/promotion decisions. The problem is that those who call attention to flaws in the system -- people who are outspoken -- are not considered "team players" and do not move up the chain. Things therefore do not change. "Mentors" and affinity days and groups are not the answer. They have not worked for decades. Quite frankly, until our society changes and sees diverse employees as management material, they will not move up and they will not be able to positively impact the system.

Posted by: VirginiaReader1 | October 6, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

We've seen this in California. When Hispanics get jobs that give them hiring authority, they only hire other Hispanics. Especially Spanish-speaking ones; then they use their language to exclude and marginalize non-Hispanic Americans from their own workplace. More Hispanics in government just means more jobs for their illegal bretheren, and fewer jobs for non-Hispanic Americans. Of course, they have no problems with us footing the bill for it all. That's one thing the gringoes are good for in their minds -- paying through the nose to provide endless goodies to the "superior" race.

Posted by: MaryJessel | October 6, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I agree Virginia Reader, with your statement.

I am a Latina of Bolivian heritage, born and raised in this country. I'm bilingual and have two masters degrees, and most people wouldn't know I'm Latina by looking at me, because the assumption is Latinos are brown. Latinos in this country cross the spectrum of social classes and races, from "poor and uneducated" as a previous poster mentioned, to wealthy and highly educated. We also can't really be called "black" or "white" or "brown", because we are all three, depending on what country we hail from. To assume hispanics are poor and uneducated is just incorrect.

As to the "uneducated Hispanic masses" mentioned by previous posters. They're already here, illegal or not. I see a great wealth of potential ready to be tapped into with some social investment, not an economic drain on the US. Or better put, whether Hispanics are a drain on the US or a boon depends on our country's outlook and strategy - continue with a focus on deportation - or integrate those already here into our society and churn out productive, educated, tax-paying citizens?

The US can only benefit from valuing the diversity in its workforce. I'm pleased to see there is a renewed focus on hiring hispanics into the federal government. I don't see this initiative as an attempt to hire unqualified people, Hispanics otherwise, who cannot perform required work. Rather, it is an expansion of recruiting practices to make sure the Feds definitely ARE reaching possibly overlooked and untapped talent in the Latino workforce.

Posted by: Pezozui | October 6, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Pezozui, "integrating" illegal aliens into our society is a non starter. We tried that with the 1986 amnesty and look what we got--an emphasis on Hispanic identity at the expense of American, increased welfare usage by Hispanics, and more illegal immigration. Furthermore, we are getting the LEAST capable and least desirable workers, those with little education and few skills who would require tremendous resources to bring up to actually be net payers of taxes rather than net users. Recent studies are even finding that Hispanics are not following the traditional trajectory of improving their lot in life over the generations because they're simply unequipped for the better jobs that are available and the old manufacturing jobs that lifted unskilled workers out of poverty are disappearing.

As for focusing on hiring Hispanics, well, Hispanic is an ETHNICITY. The federal government, if it is going to use ethnicity as a criterion for hiring, should also be doing the same for every single ethnicity we have in this country, proportional to its numbers. And, of course, ignoring those who are illegal aliens.

Posted by: Ali4 | October 6, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Pezozui, we don't assume that "Hispanics" are all poor, but we do assume, with a great deal of support, that Hispanic illegal aliens largely are. I happen to work with a number of economists, five of whom are white and Hispanic. But I see no reason why I, as an Arab-American, should be put at a disadvantage in the hiring process because "Hispanic" is a so-called minority, even when these Hispanics are white.

Posted by: Ali4 | October 6, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I hate to tell oba2 that there many AFRICANS that already work for the Federal Government. Many offices are comoposed of only Africans. As far as the Latino population in the Government, one of the reasons they are not hired is because they refuse to speak the English language! I am probably the least prejudiced person on earth, but I have no respect for people of any race, age or ethnicity who refuse to learn English. This is America and English is our language. Love it or leave it, but don't complain that the Government is prejudiced against Latino Americans or Africans. Grow up!!

Posted by: pmaley | October 6, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Virginia Reader, it's my opinion that what needs to change is the emphasis on "diversity". What ALL races and ethnic groups need to realize is that it should be one's skills and abilities that count. After all, that's why so many federal jobs are supposed to be color blind in using tests and objective measures. To play a numbers game of allocating jobs based on the proportion of a particular race or ethnic group in the population is not only a fool's game, but also likely illegal as well. (Remember the firefighters' case that became prominent during Judge Sotomayor's hearings? That turned on disparate impact and DI lost.) Also, using quotas actually works against minorities such as Asian-Americans. They actually get fewer admissions to colleges in California because the State is trying to make sure they get "enough" non Asian minorities. And as long as quotas are used, who's going to believe a "minority" got the job because of their ability rather than because of their race or ethnicity?

Posted by: Ali4 | October 6, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

By now most business are conscious of the federal program E-Verify? It distinguishes US citizens and legal residents from illegal labor. Although not seamless, it has a 99.6 success rate and obviously will overtime become even more constructive to business that believes in the "Rule of Law." Opponents in both the business sector and even on Capitol Hill have released a torrent of abuse against the application. That includes its function is blind to counterfeit documentation and spurious ID and that even legal individuals can be rejected? SO--YOU GO TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE TO BE EXONERATED? ONLY ILLEGAL WORKERS WILL SHUN TURNING TO SSA FOR RESOLVING THIS ISSUE.

The open border conspirators are losing, as they did in a federal Maryland court a week previous. As E-Verify are perfected it needs to become a permanent tool in the incomplete arsenal of immigration enforcement. It needs to reach out to every company, big and small, in our country and every individual who works there? E-Verify eventually will expel foreign national from the workplace, without financial appropriations on a large scale. These people will self-deport when they cannot be hired anymore. Businesses facing huge fines and prison will be the ultimate deterrent. In time it will save our ailing schools, health care, home mortgages and government welfare system. Look to NUMBERSUSA for honest an answer, that includes costs to taxpayers for the new blanket AMNESTY. Which Senators and Republicans are anti-US American Worker and their immigration grades?

For an example Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has a miserable enforcement grade of "C-". He was out to erase E-Verify, under fund the border fence from the beginning of the Democratic administration. Then JUDICIAL WATCH is a public watchdog group Promoting Integrity, Transparency and Accountability in Government, Politics and the Law. They uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities. Finally CAPSWEB informs the public about the coming nightmare of OVERPOPULATION that is already exhibiting itself in our deteriorating infrastructure. TELL YOUR POLITICIANS YOU HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE AT 202-224-3121


Posted by: infinity555 | October 6, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: likey83 | October 7, 2009 2:52 AM | Report abuse

people need to become more tolerant and understanding, but most importantly to be able to compromise.

Posted by: likey83 | October 7, 2009 2:57 AM | Report abuse

how about white people leave the country since they were the first immigrants to this continent?

Posted by: likey83 | October 7, 2009 3:00 AM | Report abuse

All4: I am a proponent of performance evaluations being stripped of an employee's name (usually employees for the government have some sort of number), gender pronouns and describing how an employee does their job and how well. By "diversifying" promotion panels (especially) the tendency toward the "old boy" network will disappear and there is a chance folks will be promoted because of merit, not because they like the same football team, or play golf, or are related to someone that the organization's leadership favors.

Posted by: VirginiaReader1 | October 7, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Here's the problem with the OPM numbers...they don't compare apples to apples. When comparing the composition of the Federal workforce to the national labor force, they shouldn't be including jobs in the nation's workforce that don't exist in Government. Say, for example, important service jobs like construction workers, restaurant workers, grocery store workers, plumbers, electricians, and the like--those kinds of jobs just don't exist in large numbers in government as they do in the private sector. By using only the comparable jobs in the civilian labor force, the numbers would undoubtedly look much better in terms of the representation of hispanics in the Federal government. But advocacy groups aren't interested, and politicians are afraid, to admit the reality that many jobs traditionally held by Hispanics in the United States are not the kinds of jobs traditionally found in the Federal Government. So everyone continues to cry inequity and inequality based on a false reality.

Posted by: tobyr1 | October 7, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

35 years ago, I very naively assumed I would be hired and rewarded for my knowledge, abilities and performance. After 9 years as the "token" woman engineer on staff, I changed companies and moved to Arizona, and eventually moved into management.

Today my sons are marginalized in the Arizona workforce. Both are dependable, smart, educated, honest and hardworking. Unfortunately, both are white males.
In my job I've been repeatedly told to find and recruit minority and female candidates. I've looked - and looked hard - but my first responsibility is to find *qualified* candidates. As a result, I have a strong, competent staff, but HR doesn't like me very much.

Posted by: mysticmoods | October 7, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The 2003 “National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)” measured the English literacy of America's adults (people age 16 and older) and compared data to a similar assessment conducted in 1992.

Adult Latinos comprise about 12% of adults in US (or about 26,500,000). The survey found that about 72% of adult Latinos (roughly 19,000,000) lack the literacy required for most federal jobs in the 21st century. Go to the National Center for Education Statistics website for more details.

The federal work force should reflect the workforce of the US. Maybe we can do something to improve latino adult literacy (which fell from 1992 levels) so they can successfully compete for federal jobs based on merit. Let's address the problem instead of ignoring it.

By the way, Latinos are only a part of a larger problem with about 90 million adults who are in the same category (about 40% of all adults).

Posted by: highexpectations | October 7, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

how about white people leave the country since they were the first immigrants to this continent?
Can we take all the infrastructure, welfare benefits, schools and hospitals we built with us? I doubt if the Latinos would like that at all, as that's what they are here for.

Posted by: MaryJessel | October 10, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

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