Transition Watch: Obama urged to be recruiter-in-chief

President-elect Barack Obama should make human capital reform and issues in the federal workforce a priority of his administration, according to a survey of chief human capital officers and federal human resources executives.

The incoming president also should take the role of recruiter-in-chief and issue a “national call to government service,” according to a survey released today by the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton LLP.

The government’s current system of recruiting, hiring, compensating, training, and managing its employees is broken in many places, the survey said. As a result, agencies struggle to bring in top talent, retain that talent and often don’t use the skills of current civil servants, the document said.

Civil service reform should be a governmentwide and collaborative effort, with a continued focus on improving management skills, the survey said, adding that federal managers will not see human capital reform as a priority unless it is a priority for the president, the report noted.

“Policy is people,” said Max Stier, the partnership's president, in remarks releasing the survey. “Tackling these important human resource issues is essential to President-elect Obama fully realizing his administration’s policy goals,” he said.

Among the findings, only 44 percent of the chief human capital officers surveyed rated their line managers and supervisors as having the competencies they need “to a great extent,” and none gave their agency managers the highest rating. But 38 percent rated their managers as having the managerial skills to a moderate degree, the survey said.

Based on the results, the report recommended that Obama:
 
• Create 21st century systems to support a 21st century workforce by updating the way government hires, classifies and pays its employees and strengthen management skills
.
• Improve the federal workforce by investing in the human resources workforce, including better systems and analytical tools.

• Build on the progress made from previous workforce reform efforts, such as improvements in performance management systems to hold agencies and managers accountable for workforce management.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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