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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 03/ 4/2011

Average time to hire new federal workers improves

By Ed O'Keefe


The average length of time it takes federal agencies to hire new employees has dropped by more than two weeks, according to new government figures -- a change that addresses the chief concern of job applicants.

Agencies took an average of 105 days to recruit and hire new workers, down from 122 days the year before, according to the Office of Personnel Management. In the past, it would take agencies up to 200 days to process a hire; 140 days was more common.

President Obama last year ordered agencies to accelerate the hiring process with the goal of eventually processing applications and hiring a new worker in no more than 80 days. The orders -- part of Obama's push to make the government "cool again" -- stemmed from concerns that the government is missing out on recruiting highly-qualified applicants unwilling to wait more than six months for a final decision.

"All agencies are focused on achieving dramatic reductions in their overall hiring time and reducing hiring time to 80 calendar days for the most commonly filled positions," OPM said this week in its annual performance report to Congress.

The federal government is also making good on another federal personnel goal: It is hiring more military veterans than ever before.

Veterans comprised about 25 percent of all new federal hires in the first nine months of fiscal 2010, up from 22 percent from the same period the year before. Obama has ordered 24 agencies to hire more veterans; 20 have done so, OPM said.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

RELATED: How to get a government job (Washington Post Jobs section)

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 4, 2011; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Comments

It would be interesting to see figures on this from the private sector. Got any?

Posted by: sandyr1 | March 4, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The federal government has added over 200,000 more workers in 2 years. Sounds like things are going too quickly.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | March 4, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I thought KSAs were supposed to be eliminated also. I keep seeing them or they are just given another name.

Posted by: Kolchak | March 4, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

yup they added 200k, but you do know how many lefT? about 140k!

Posted by: skinfan2k | March 4, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I've tried over the years to land a job with the Fed, and the best I've been able to do was get a postcard a few weeks after the announcement was closed saying the opening had been filled. For my current job, I found out I was hired an hour after my interview. I know public sector hiring processes have to take certain things into account, but is it really that hard? It seems like you either have to be a special class of person or know someone. It's almost like they don't want those who actually do want to make a difference for their communities.

BTW with at least one friend who may see herself get laid off from the Fed due to GOP pandering to unrealistic demands from rabid teabaggers, I'm glad I'm working for an organization that has absolutely no working relationship with the Fed.

Posted by: booogers | March 4, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

First of all the federal hiring system is a TOTAL MYSTERY SYSTEM NOW, because candidates have no idea how they fared among the candidates applying, no idea what ranking their competitors rceceived compared to themselves and whether they are accurately assessed by those persons assessing their qualifications. In the past with the civil service system at least you had some idea of where you ranked on the list of candidates and some means of contesting that ranking. As a result of these new systems all created by republican administrations designed to make the hiring process as mysterious and unknown as possible and as lengthy for the regular, unconnected candidates for employment. I have given up even applying for any positions because the process is extremely time-consuming and not the least cost effective for applicants unless you are attempting to get a job paying in excess of $100K. For most minority candidates, the variety of agencies have a hodge-podge of unnecessary and cumbersome applications requirements that discourage most minorities from applying besides the requirements for background/security checks for positions that are unsensitive. The majority of openings are in the defense/security agencies of the military and Homeland Security which effectively eliminate most minorities unless they are veterans. As a result all of the veterans will get priority and we will have a government filled with military personnel. 80 days is still much too long if you are looking for a job. I have been seeking employment since September of 2007 and have never received a single interview for any federal government position that I have applied for and am still wondering how best qualified, etc. is determined in this mysterious employment process established by the federal government. How do applicants know that they are being properly assessed??? Who are these persons assessing your qualifications? What are their personal biases? What assurance am I getting from this process that I am getting a fair, accurate and honest assessment --- just because OPM says so???

Posted by: hotezzy | March 4, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Oh really?? I applied for a job with the VA back in January and I'm still waiting to hear the status of my application. I've started looking elsewhere because I'm fed up with the entire process.

Posted by: virgo67 | March 4, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Why an article about the new hire hiring cycle? Isn't there a hiring freeze in effect?

Posted by: fishin4 | March 4, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I don't care how they speed things up for hiring and processing but they should never never start scrimping and cutting corners or being less than thorough on the background checks! If you don't want to wait for a proper clearance don't apply.

Posted by: menopausequeen | March 4, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The real problem with the way your are hired for government employment is that they now use a computer process that first combs through your Resume to pre-qualify you for the job. Well over 90% are disqualified by this process. Google Resumx for tips. One of the best is to ready the posting for the job and make sure you cover what is there with the key words of what the requirements are. If you don't use the key words in the requirements your Resume will be eliminated and it will never be passed on. I have applied for other positions that are the same exact job I do and have been eliminated and disqualified. The words you use make a difference. Management will give the HR folks key words to look for and if they are not in the Resume then you are eliminated as disqualified. Used to be a person would have to review each resume for qualifications and this process did give you a better chance to qualify because a person can make a determination that what you put down does qualify you. A computer can't do that if the exact word is not there you are disqualified there is no gray just a yes or no. Welcome to fast processing and taking a short cut to decrease the time to process all request. Lots of jobs require you to have worked a min of 12 months in the same category and have all the training too. This is why I was disqualified for selection. I had all the training but only had eight months of experience so I was eliminated by the computer program as not qualified. My resume backed up that I not only did the level of work asked for but that I was doing work that was three levels higher than was required to qualify if a person had reviewed it they might have sent me forward to be interviewed by the agency since the computer see it first it never got out of the Q. So even since I'm in the government it does not mean I get an advantage over the computer. You have to learn the process and use that process to increase your chances. That is hard for someone who does not work within the system or know someone in the system to help them design their Resume for Resumx. Always fun...

Posted by: Concerned5 | March 4, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

. For most minority candidates, the variety of agencies have a hodge-podge of unnecessary and cumbersome applications requirements that discourage most minorities from applying besides the requirements for background/security checks for positions that are unsensitive.

Posted by: hotezzy
>>>>>>>>

What???
I am a Fed and I can't imagine what you are talking about. Can you explain?

Posted by: Island_Boy | March 4, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

This doesn't seem like much of an improvement. Who would wait 4 months for a job but not be willing to wait 5?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | March 4, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I read time to "fire"..silly me.

Posted by: njtou | March 4, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

STOP hiring these leeches. What do we need more government employees for? Are we trying to make the government more inefficient?

Posted by: Jsuf | March 4, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The REAL ISSUE here is that fed workers are being hired instead of being laid off....WE THE PEOPLE don't want any more fed workers....the time has come to reduce government at every level and especially at the exec desk sitter level........lay off every other exec desk sitter NOW......

Posted by: ticked | March 4, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Mr. O'Keefe : This news story that " Average time to hire new federal workers improves " would be very confusing for thousands of employees in Federal Agencies who would soon face early retirement or separation from the Federal service because of adverse impact of H. R. 1. The House after several long days of debate passed 235 -189 vote to send the bill to the Senate the “Ideological Payback Budget” . The H. R. 1 totally eliminates e. g. , the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as well as its programs: VISTA, Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve. The proposal pledges to end National Service immediately . The CNCS programs are mandated and designed to serve thousands of communities across the U. S. The tax payers get most for their buck in domestic programs in poor and low income communities , particularly for children of special needs , Seniors and all citizens in disaster relief and emergency situations . As an economist and retired Federal employee , having served in the US AID and ACTION/ National Service , I know it . My heart has always been in our domestic anti poverty and community service programs , they deserve to be supported by tax payers and the Congress .

Posted by: dmfarooq | March 4, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Mr. O'Keefe : This news story that " Average time to hire new federal workers improves " would be very confusing for thousands of employees in Federal Agencies who would soon face early retirement or separation from the Federal service because of adverse impact of H. R. 1. The House after several long days of debate passed 235 -189 vote to send the bill to the Senate the “Ideological Payback Budget” . The H. R. 1 totally eliminates e. g. , the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as well as its programs: VISTA, Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve. The proposal pledges to end National Service immediately . The CNCS programs are mandated and designed to serve thousands of communities across the U. S. The tax payers get most for their buck in domestic programs in poor and low income communities , particularly for children of special needs , Seniors and all citizens in disaster relief and emergency situations . As an economist and retired Federal employee , having served in the US AID and ACTION/ National Service , I know it . My heart has always been in our domestic anti poverty and community service programs , they deserve to be supported by tax payers and the Congress .

Posted by: dmfarooq | March 4, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

children of special needs?

You mean missed abortions?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | March 4, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

The time it takes to get rid of an incompetent Federal employee remains the same at "never in a million years."

Posted by: Chippewa | March 4, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Why are they hiring any new Federal Workers? They should be cutting this bloated work force - time for Obama and the Dems to stop stealing from the taxpayer.

Posted by: Realist201 | March 4, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Not federal workers, but federal employees.

Posted by: 1911a1 | March 4, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Streamline the process just in time to cut jobs in the Federal govt...nice ;-)

Posted by: michaelaudet | March 4, 2011 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Pretty funny seeing people get mad at the feds hiring

Unemployment is terrible and we have people getting hired and we have Republicans crying about it

Shows how little they care about the country and purely want to look cool to Fox News

Posted by: Bious | March 5, 2011 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Process time IS NOT shorter. This is all more anti-fed worker propaganda! If you believe anything from O'Keefe (anti-govt worker news thug), then you should be reading the tabloids!

Posted by: spankyfrost | March 7, 2011 5:41 AM | Report abuse

I don't see any improvement with responses from the DOJ or the federal courts.

Posted by: fongwaigit | March 7, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

What they failed to mention was that to make this happen, they have shortened the time to apply for the job and have not changed anything else. So when you used to get 2 weeks to apply you now get 1 week. The process is cumbersome and takes time. Only posting for one week is not the answer to hiring the most qualified candidates.

Posted by: Pleasantspring | March 8, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

If it were not for all of those pesky laws inhibiting how a federal supervisor can go about hiring personnel, it would take only a few minutes to put a friend, relative, or trusted colleague in a highly paid, undemanding civil service job. During hearings before the Merit System Protection Board concerning the blatant discrimination against Vietnam War veterans by the U.S. Geological Survey, the following difficulties managers have were summarized. First, a great deal of time and cost is wasted for a competitive examination. All hiring officials who testified were unanimous in denouncing examinations. All said that their personal knowledge of the candidate they wanted to hire or recommendations from trusted subordinates determined who was selected. The examination results were ignored. Then there is that difficult "rule of three," which allows supervisors to select only one of the top three applicants, rated by exam score. In order to get around that law, the USGS holds about eight separate selections to fill one position for a scientist. Four are open selections, while four are so-called merit promotion selections. If it selects from the open certificate, the law requires that veterans be given either 5 or 10 extra points, and they cannot be passed over for a lower ranking non-veteran. Since the four open selections are made according to specialty, each applicant cannot usually apply for more than one or two of the selections. Suppose a disabled veteran scores 110% on the examinations for two of the selections. These hiring certificates are returned to the OPM without anyone being selected. The pre-selected friend of the hiring official, who scored, let's say, 70% on the examination, can then be selected from one of the two other lists on which other applicants' names do not appear. If the pre-selected friend does not appear among the top three on any certificate, then the hiring official goes to four "merit promotion" certificates and simply appoints his friend. The agencies have decided among themselves without any laws having to be passed by Congress that 1) veterans receive no preference points on MP examinations, 2) that examination results can be ignored and anyone selected from the list, and 3) that people lacking education and training suitable for any job can be found to be qualified just by making any personal attribute sufficient for qualifying for the job. Knowing the right people, for example, is always an adequate attribute. Time and effort could be spared in Congress would just go ahead and allow senior civil servants to hire the person they want without going through all of this difficulty. The greatest delay is encountered if the wrong persons score highest on all examinations.
That is why 79% of the hiring certificates on which the name of a veteran appeared with the highest exam score had to be returned to the OPM, and a whole new selection had to be held, hoping the veteran would not apply a second time.

Posted by: cwheckman | March 8, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Nothing much appears to have changed in my world. I still see friend based hiring and a long drawn out hiring process for gov't jobs. I have been waiting three weeks for a response to a gov't job that I was referred to in Feb.

Posted by: sharonmcneil | March 10, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

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