Senate passes bill to fix federal hiring process

Senate bill and recent presidential memo feature similar fixes for the complex hiring system

The Senate has approved legislation that would streamline the current system for hiring federal employees. The Federal Hiring Process Improvement Act (S. 736) passed by unanimous consent on May 18, and now goes to the House.

The legislation, introduced last year by Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio), is similar to the president’s recent memo to overhaul the same system. They both want job descriptions written in plain language and to allow job seekers to submit resumes. The senators said agencies should do away with the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) essay questions. Both the legislation and the memo tell agencies to reach out to wide pools of diverse job candidates.


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The bill deals with the government’s communication problems with applicants. It would require agencies give an estimated timeline for the steps of the hiring process and send out several notices to interviewees, including when their application is received, when the initial qualification rankings are completed, and when the position is filled.

"The federal government must adapt to meet the best practices of the private sector for hiring in order to be the nation’s employer of choice," Akaka said today in a statement.

On May 11, President Barack Obama issued his memo on improving the hiring process. He wrote the system is so complex and inefficient that highly qualified people don’t apply for government jobs.

“Americans must be able to apply for federal jobs through a common-sense hiring process, and agencies must be able to select high-quality candidates efficiently and quickly,” he wrote.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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