HUD tests faster hiring

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BALTIMORE — The Department of Housing and Urban Development has been used as a test bed to help federal officials figure out how to hire and put new workers on the payroll more quickly.

With outmoded hiring practices, agency officials often need months to fill job openings. To improve the process, officials at the Office of Personnel Management used HUD as a model for cutting that time down to 30 days for high-level employees and 45 days for others.

OPM's goal is to remove the guessing game in which applicants must wait months to hear whether they qualified for a job or they accept another offer because they grew impatient with the federal government, said Marta Brito Perez, associate OPM director, speaking today at the first OPM Federal Workforce Conference.

Problems identified at HUD include six layers of approval for advertising an opening, Perez said. To solve the problem, the layers were eliminated, and managers became more involved in the hiring process.

HUD officials also used a software program called USAStaffing that helped identify qualified candidates.

In prepared remarks, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson said the department needed to quickly improve its personnel management "to avoid a potential brain drain."

"The number one barrier cited by participants was the overall communication about who's responsible for what in the hiring process. In some offices, we discovered that it takes as many as six different people to approve a vacancy announcement," he said.

OPM and HUD officials will issue a report soon that outlines ways to fix the process. Other agencies are seeking similar advice from OPM, Perez said.

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