Bill would simplify federal hiring process

Two senior senators have introduced a bill to streamline the federal hiring process so the government can become an employer of choice.

Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia Subcommittee, introduced the legislation March 30.

Many agencies have established entry barriers for new workers and created evaluation processes that discourage qualified candidates, Akaka said. The federal government needs to simplify the hiring process to better attract talented applicants, he added.

“Like the private sector, agencies need to take advantage of modern technology to find and hire the right candidates,” Akaka said.

The federal hiring process takes too long and is too burdensome, Voinovich said. The quality of federal technology has improved to assist in hiring, but the processes have not, he added.

The Partnership for Public Service praised the bill. Agencies will need to hire thousands of employees to replace retiring baby boomers, fill mission-critical jobs and implement a national response to the economic crisis, said Max Stier, the organization’s president.

“Making the hiring process more timely, clear and user-friendly will encourage more qualified candidates to apply and ensure that the government does not lose much-needed talent,” he said. “Applying for a federal job should not require the patience of Job and the courage of David.”

The legislation includes steps that the Office of Personnel Management has already begun to take to streamline the hiring process. Under the legislation, agencies would have to develop strategic workforce plans that include hiring projections and information on critical skills gaps.

Agencies would also be required to:

  • Post brief, clear job announcements in plain writing.
  • Allow applicants to submit résumés and cover letters and no longer require knowledge, skills and abilities essays.
  • Provide timely notification to applicants on the status of their applications.
  • Take no more than 80 days from the time a manager decides to fill a vacancy to the time an offer is made.
  • Measure the effectiveness of hiring efforts and reforms.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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