Letters to the editor

OPM Proud of Hiring Progress

I read with interest your editorial that says the federal government "is poised to revamp its image and overhaul its hiring practices" ["OPM 2001: A hiring odyssey," FCW, April 30].

We at the Office of Personnel Management are not only poised to move forward, but we are proud of what we already have accomplished. Over the years, we have worked diligently to develop user-friendly, automated systems for job seekers and to create expedited hiring procedures for agencies to use.

As a result of OPM's innovation and the "can-do" spirit of agency managers and human resources professionals throughout government, I am pleased to note that the hiring process is now measured in weeks, not months. It is rare for a new hire to take more than a few weeks to process, and those that do take that long generally involve national security positions, which require extensive background investigations.

But speed isn't everything. The government is now a more competitive employer. Agencies can pay recruitment and relocation incentives, offer more competitive salaries to thousands of information technology employees and hire high-quality candidates above the regular entry-level salary.

Hiring officials and program managers who take recruitment and hiring responsibilities seriously and creatively get results.

For example, the Defense Contract Audit Agency hired nearly 600 auditors during the past 18 months. To accomplish this major task, the audit agency and OPM jointly managed a nationwide, corporate-style recruitment and marketing campaign aimed at recent college graduates who would be most interested in entry-level auditor positions. So focused was this effort, DCAA managers even received training in on-campus recruiting methods. The result: More than 2,000 people applied for the positions.

We are proud of our record of offering quality service to agencies. And we are equally proud of our services, which get the desired results fast. For example, OPM teamed with the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics — two organizations that must staff hard-to-fill jobs in the shortest possible turnaround time — to design a set of automated tools to speed recruitment and hiring. The news here is that the resume of an applicant who, for instance, applies on a Tuesday will appear on a program manager's computer on Wednesday. Within 24 to 36 hours, the applicant becomes available for immediate selection.

Facts are facts. OPM and other federal agencies deserve credit for making hiring more efficient and effective. And coupled with pay incentives and family-friendly policies that appeal to the modern employee, the federal government has taken important steps toward becoming an employer of choice for top-quality candidates.

Richard Whitford
Acting associate director for employment
Office of Personnel Management

Cookies and Accountability

I found the articles in your June 11 issue about Sen. Fred Thompson's report detailing mismanagement in the government ["Senator eyes "shock therapy' for agencies"] and the new Web site of the CIO Council [""Cookies' policy violated on CIO Council site"] to be rather ironic, though rather typical.

It would be interesting to find out who signed off on the contract for the CIO Council's new Web site. Just telling the contractor [that the site can't use persistent cookies] shouldn't have been enough. One hopes there was a checklist of items that both sides signed off on.

Sadly, I suspect nobody in the CIO Council will be held accountable — no doubt the priority was getting the site out, not getting it right. And sadly, this probably verifies the Thompson report.

Terry Suitor
Defense Department

Scholarships for Feds?

The article "Enlisting cyberdefenders" [FCW, May 28] discusses giving scholarships to students of information security in exchange for two years of government service. This is an excellent idea that I fully support.

However, it is yet another example of the U.S. government treating others better than its own employees. Why aren't there equivalent scholarships for people already working for the government?

Using myself as an example, I have 14 years with the government and will stay for at least another 10 years to become eligible for retirement. Wouldn't the government get more for its investment in giving me a scholarship, instead of someone who will work only two years?

Again, I applaud the program as described. However, there should be a similar program for current government employees.

Roger Johnson
State Department

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