Bill targets fed recruiting
A group of lawmakers introduced legislation March 4 designed to make it easier to recruit workers to federal service by allowing agencies to repay their employees' student loans on a tax-free basis.
Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.), and Sens. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) sponsored the Generating Opportunity by Forgiving Educational Debt for Service Act.
Agencies can repay student loans on behalf of their employees now — up to $6,000 a year for a total of $40,000 per employee — but the benefit is subject to tax withholding at the time repayment is made.
The act would eliminate this tax burden for federal workers, similar to loan repayments made by schools or nonprofit organizations to encourage public service.
No quick recruiting fix
The slumping economy is making it easier for agencies to win the recruiting wars with the private sector, but agencies shouldn't be fooled into thinking the battle for skilled workers has been won, according to the Performance Institute.
"The bad economy is giving government a reprieve," said Carl DeMaio, president of the Arlington, Va.-based group. But planning innovative recruitment programs takes time, he said. "Government should start now. We will have to compete again for talent, and we'll have to be ready."
In a report, "Strategic Recruitment for Government," released Feb. 25, DeMaio and co-author Patti Powers compiled a list of 10 innovative practices characteristic of successful federal human resources departments along with recommendations. The findings are based on interviews conducted with agencies since October 2002.