White House steps up federal recruiting efforts

Executive order establishes new Pathways Programs

The Obama administration will start new programs to establish clear paths for the recruitment and hiring of students and recent graduates for entry-level federal jobs. The administration will also end the controversial Federal Career Intern Program, which has long been criticized by labor unions as unfair.

White House officials detailed the new programs and the administration's decision to end the intern program in an executive order released Dec. 27. The Office of Personnel Management will issue regulations to implement the governmentwide programs and will oversee recruitment efforts.

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The Pathways Programs consist of three programs: the Internship Program, the Recent Graduates Program and a modified version of the Presidential Management Fellows Program.

The executive order says new programs are necessary to strengthen the government’s recruitment of qualified applicants for entry-level positions.

“To compete effectively for students and recent graduates, the federal government must improve its recruiting efforts; offer clear paths to federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school; offer clear paths to civil service careers for recent graduates; and provide meaningful training, mentoring and career-development opportunities,” the order stated.

Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, said in a statement that the government "took a significant step in opening the door to a new generation of public servants. For too long, government has underutilized its internship programs and left highly qualified, proven talent on the table.”

Those eligible for the Recent Graduates program must have gotten a qualifying degree or completed a career or technical education program in the preceding two years. Military veterans will be able to join the program within six years of earning a degree, according to the executive order.

OPM will provide oversight of federal agencies’ use of the Pathways Programs to ensure “that they serve as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the competitive hiring process,” the order states.

As part of the executive order, the White House also scrapped FCIP, the government’s two-year development internship program, which began in 2001.

The National Treasury Employees Union has been fighting to eliminate FCIP, arguing that a number of agencies have abused the program by using it for all new hires.

“I applaud the White House for recognizing that agency misuse of the FCIP far beyond its original intent undercuts a basic pillar of the civil service — fair and open competition for positions — and that it must be ended in its current form,” NTEU President Colleen Kelley said in a statement.

In November, the Merit Systems Protection Board also found that FCIP violated a statute relating to veterans’ preferences.

Interns appointed under FCIP will be converted to competitive service, without loss of pay or benefits, starting March 1, according to the executive order. 

NTEU is taking a cautious approach to the new programs. The union said outside of limited internships, it supports competitive hiring in the civil service.

“In a similarity with the FCIP, this new program would be an exception to competitive service, and, as such, it should be very narrowly drawn,” Kelley said.

The executive order directs OPM to establish, “if appropriate,” a governmentwide cap on the number of non-competitive conversions to the competitive service of Interns, Recent Graduates or Presidential Management Fellows, or a governmentwide cap applicable to all three categories together.





About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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Reader comments

Mon, Jan 10, 2011 Rudolf Birzin New York

Administration of human resources requires supporting a constant flow of personnel through the system. People who are in a job title do not have the "big picture" because they are limited to their own job. With three million employees there is always someplace that needs more people. Even if there are RIFs the position has to be covered by someone or completely eliminated from the budget line. It ain't easy being green!

Wed, Jan 5, 2011

If you want to slap government workers with a pay freeze, and still hire young people who are saddled with massive student debt, how about paying off their student loans? The current student loan program is a joke: no one I know has ever gotten any money from it, and the 10 year debt forgiveness only kicks in after you've already paid off your debt. Young people struggle to get established, and choking them with student loan payments just sets them back for life. They worked hard to get the skills the government needs, so help them out by unburdening their student debts.

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 WOR

Hey, come work for us... Oh, BTW, by law we can't give you a raise for a few years.

Tue, Jan 4, 2011

Interesting that the Federal Gov't is now implementing improved programs to hire "highly qualified" new grads while at the same freezing pay for 2 years. Those two initiatives run counter to each other--isn't anyone in gov't talking and coordinating efforts to improve gov't and gov't services?

Tue, Jan 4, 2011 Get a Clue

If the Federal Government really wants to be able to compete effectively for top quality graduates, maybe they should rethink how they treat current employees. Right now College graduates see Federal Employees scapegoated by the politicians as lazy, underworked and overpaid mindless bureaucrats. We get our pay frozen allegedly to help with the budget crisis, only to see Obama and the Lame Duck Congress spend many multiples of what they took from us on new programs in just a few short weeks. The incoming Congress talks a lot about messing with our pension plans to make them "fair", giving no thought to just how fair it is to yank someone's pension out from underneath them after they've already worked over 32 years towards earning that pension. The pension is not a gift, it is payment for services rendered. To cut the pensions of those of us who have worked long and hard under the current rules would amount to a retroactive pay cut. At any rate, a new College graduate hears about all this jacking around of the current workforce and you've pretty much convinced them to avoid Federal Service like the plague.

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