Lankford Wants to Improve Human Resources in Federal Agencies

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s opening remarks and Q&A on YouTube.

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s opening remarks and Q&A on Rumble.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, served as ranking member in a Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Chief Human Capital Officers at 20: What is needed to empower CHCOs to Ensure HR practices support agencies’ mission success.”

The hearing examined the Government Accountability Office (GAO) placing federal human capital on its high-risk list for more than 20 years with little progress despite the annual manager satisfaction survey consistently listing human resources (HR) as the least successful function.

In 2002, Congress established the role of the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) to improve federal HR. Today’s hearing examined whether CHCOs have what they need to carry out their accountability roles. Additionally, the hearing seeks to gain additional information on how to empower CHCOs through modernization to ensure attention to human capital in our federal agencies while still upholding all Merit System Principles.

The witness panel today included Michael Rigas, Former Acting Director (2020-2021) of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); Angela Bailey, Former Chief Human Capital Officer (2016-2022) for the Department of Homeland Security; Steve Lankart, Executive Director of the National Federation of Federal Employees; and Terry Gerton, President & Chief Executive Officer of the National Academy of Public Administration


On the uncompetitive three-month hiring wait time for new federal employees

Lankford: We are at a critical point. We have quite a few federal employees that are eligible for retirement. It continues to drag on and on with the hiring and the length of time it takes to hire. The latest numbers that we have is now 92 days to be able to get to a hire. That is actually better than it has been by a few days but still embarrassing for anything that is in the private sector. I’ve yet to run into a single company that goes to a job fair and interviews someone at the job fair and says, ‘I’ll get back to you in three months.’… The best and brightest are not going to wait three months to be able to go through the process…

On the innovation opportunities for the federal workforce from the COVID-19 pandemic

Lankford: The COVID pandemic I also declare to be the largest pilot program ever done by the federal government on innovation and managing people and hiring and basic oversight. We should take the lessons learned from that and start implementing them quickly. My fear is that after a two-year large-scale pilot that we’re now going to start studying what we studied during that time period and spend another decade trying to evaluate, and the status quo will just remain. That will be disappointing if that actually occurs.

On how we can open opportunities to remote federal work for military spouses and rural Americans

Lankford: We have highly qualified spouses of our active duty military who move with their family every three years often to very remote locations at bases and posts around the country and around the world. They struggle to be able to find employment when they move every two or three years. Why not allow those spouses of our active duty military to be able to work in a remote position in any agency they choose to? We’ve clearly shown that remote work is possible, and I don’t mean telework, where they’re expected to be in one day a week. I mean truly remote work where they’re never expected to be in unless there’s a large-scale conference they need to be able to attend. This would also dramatically open up opportunities for highly qualified individuals in rural America that struggle to be able to find good jobs. This would help those in rural America and would help rural America having stable income into some of those communities…