Critical Read

Where to find -- and how to woo -- your next hires

biggest bang

The report from the Partnership for Public Service provides strategies to attract science and math experts to federal amployment.

What: “The Biggest Bang Theory: How to Get the Most out of the Competitive Search for STEMM Employees.”

Why: The federal government is facing a potential personnel crisis in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine workforce. In 2012, the government employed just under 525,000 STEMM professionals across all agencies, but only 8 percent of them were under the age of 30. The number of those jobs will grow while the pool of qualified applicants will remain tight or even dwindle.

To recruit qualified professionals across all the STEMM fields in the face of robust private-sector competition, federal agencies and Congress need to change the recruitment, hiring and career tracks for STEMM employees, according to a new report from the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Although private firms might offer math geeks and engineers the chance to work in T-shirts and play foosball in the office, the government gives STEMM workers the chance to tackle unique challenges, such as conducting high-level medical research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, developing cryptography for the intelligence community and designing spacecraft for NASA. In other words, the government offers opportunities that don't have private-sector analogues, and that is something recruiters should stress to job candidates.

Additionally, it's important to use peer-to-peer recruitment and reach job candidates early in their careers or while they're still in college. Competitions and scholarship opportunities can attract young students who might not otherwise consider a career in government service.

Some of the report’s recommendations would require more formal changes to the federal recruitment process, including carving out a category of non-management senior positions at the GS-15 pay level for top-level scientists, engineers and researchers who do not want to take on management responsibilities. The federal government could also capitalize on opportunities to hire non-citizen STEMM workers, but that would require Congress to change the law.

Verbatim: "The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) should provide direct-hire authority to agencies for all STEMM occupations, and use existing authority to create and sponsor a STEMM version of the Presidential Management [Fellows] program to bring in a highly talented pool of applicants. Congress has a role to play as well. Many non-U.S. citizens contribute stellar research and other highly needed skills in STEMM fields but are unable to serve in full-time government positions. Congress should examine the necessity of the requirement for employees in STEMM fields to be U.S. citizens, or consider creating a citizenship path similar to the Department of Defense’s Citizenship for Service clause, which allows non-U.S. citizens serving in the U.S. armed forces, and certain veterans, to be eligible for full citizenship."

You can download the full report at

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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