Obama orders government to change its hiring practices
By The Post's Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson:
President Obama signed a presidential memorandum Tuesday that ordered federal agencies “to overhaul the way they recruit and hire” civilians. “The complexity and inefficiency of today’s federal hiring process deters many highly qualified individuals from seeking and obtaining jobs in the federal government,” the president said.
In the memorandum, Obama instructed agency heads to take a series of actions by Nov. 1. They include an end to requiring applicants to respond to essay-style questions when submitting their initial applications for federal jobs. Instead of essays, where candidates write about their knowledge, skills and abilities, and long, hard-to-understand forms, applicants will be allowed to apply for jobs using cover letters and résumés or by completing “simple, plain language applications.”
"The best talent doesn’t wait around for 140 days — they find another job,” Jeffrey Zients, Obama’s chief performance officer, said Tuesday. “We need to streamline our hiring process to make it more competitive and candidate-friendly.”
The president wants the hiring time cut to 80 days — some agencies now take as long as 200 days from the time a vacancy is announced until a person is hired.
And during those 80 days, candidates are to be regularly informed about the status of their applications. Many applicants have complained of hearing nothing after submitting their documents under the current system.
Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said elements of the plan “aren’t so much steps, as leaps forward.” He added that the new process will “honor core merit-system principles,” while saving taxpayer money.
Though the American Federation of Government Employees welcomed the president’s memorandum, the union was cautious about the section that called for agencies to use “category rating,” rather than the “rule of three.” Currently, managers hire from the top three candidates, and those not chosen must start from the beginning if they want to apply to a different agency. Under the category rating plan, an agency may hire from the list of all qualified candidates, not just the top three. Then another agency in the same department could hire from that same list.
“AFGE is reviewing the decision about moving to category rating instead of ‘rule of three,’.” the union said in a statement. “While OPM has assured us that category rating is a better tool for ensuring veterans preference than the rule of three, we will monitor this to ensure that there are no unintended consequences.”
Obama also ordered OPM to review the controversial Federal Career Intern Program and provide recommendations within 90 days concerning its future.
Federal employee unions hope it has no future, because they say it has been used to circumvent fair hiring procedures. Although it is called an “intern program,” it does not provide temporary employment for students, as its name implies.
Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said, “Reforms to the competitive hiring process will accomplish little if agencies are permitted to continue to avoid competitive hiring by misusing excepted service hiring authority, particularly the Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP). NTEU wants the FCIP ended now, and is working to accomplish that goal.”
More information on the hiring reforms is available at www.opm.gov.
| May 11, 2010; 3:21 PM ET
Categories: Workplace Issues
Save & Share: Previous: Chat with The Eye: Obama's federal hiring reforms; Elena Kagan's nomination
Next: House unites to call for federal workers' safety
Posted by: terpsicorp | May 11, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: eldergent | May 11, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bious | May 11, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: darbyohara | May 12, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: djone1 | May 12, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: reesemichael | May 12, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: cajunajm | May 12, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.