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Subcommittee Examines Solutions to Federal Hiring Challenges

WASHINGTON, DC The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, under the chairmanship of Senator James Lankford (R-OK), today held a hearing entitled, “Examining Federal Managers’ Role in Hiring.” Members of the Subcommittee heard from the Office of Personnel Management and several agency managers about possible solutions to federal government hiring challenges, including the slow hiring processes, the large number of workers expected to retire soon, and skills gap deficiencies.

“The hallmark of the American civil service has always been that we are able to draw the best and the brightest to serve our country,” said Lankford. “However, we are faced with several challenges that are preventing the federal workforce from being the best that it can be. We have a significant number of federal workers retiring soon, and the length of hiring takes way too long. In 2013, the government-wide average time to hire a new federal employee was an unsatisfactory 90 days, and that number rose to 106 days in 2017. Today’s hearing was discouraging and encouraging – we have good ideas to implement but I grow weary of our ability to enact them due to bureaucracy and complacency. In the days ahead, Congress must get serious about federal hiring challenges, or else we won’t be able to recruit the best and brightest.” 

This hearing continues the Subcommittee’s focus on workforce challenges for the future. On September 29, 2016, the Subcommittee held a hearing about federal workforce issues pertaining to the recruitment of millennials and a new generation of federal employees. Witnesses at that hearing confirmed that not only did the federal workforce make up a lower percentage of millennials (16%), disproportionate to that within the overall American population (21%), but there were skill deficiencies within the federal workforce. The Government Accountability Office recently estimated that by the end of 2017, nearly 600,000 federal employees, or about 31 percent of the federal workforce, were eligible to retire. The projected retirement eligibility rates underscore the importance of effective succession planning, including addressing needs and skills gaps left by retiring employees.

Notable Witnesses Quotes:

Mr. Mark Reinhold, Associate Director Employee Services of the Office of Personnel Management said, “Federal hiring managers are often frustrated by layers of rules, cumbersome and inefficient processes, and desire improved support for their hiring responsibilities…. OPM recognizes the tension applicants face between accepting jobs in the private sector and Federal sector when the hiring process is cumbersome and lengthy”

Mr. Kevin Mahoney, Chief Human Capital Officer of the U.S. Department of Commerce said, “Over the next ten years, the government will transition fully from the ‘baby boom’ generation of civil servants to the ‘millennial’ generation…. Our goal is to focus on what people, technology and acquisitions the Department needs to accomplish its various missions and identify where the gaps are and develop a strategy to close them. This is particularly important where there is a gap in competencies needed to perform work and our current workforce.”

Ms. Angela Bailey, Chief Human Capital Officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said, “One of my top priorities is to streamline current cumbersome and lengthy hiring processes so that the dedicated men and women of DHS aren’t needlessly performing multiple jobs for long periods of time. To guarantee we have the workforce necessary to execute our mission, it is critically important that we efficiently fill our vacant positions by reducing our time-to-hire – the time between validating a need for a job and an employee’s first day of work.”

CLICK HERE to view the full hearing video and opening statements.