Fed execs report weak recruiting, retention

Federal agencies are their own worst enemy in hiring and keeping staff for a kaleidoscope of government jobs, according to a recent survey of federal executives.

The Partnership for Public Service nonprofit spearheaded the survey and analysis, along with partner organizations Georgetown University, Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, Vanderbilt University’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

The federal executives noted numerous longstanding problems—and the authors of the analysis highlight several. Fully 82 percent of those surveyed said the federal hiring process takes too long, 54 percent said civil service rules were too complicated and got in the way of hiring and retention, and 32 percent said their agency lacked an adequate recruitment strategy. A telling factoid supporting these complaints: It takes fed agencies 98 days to onboard a new hire, double what it takes in the private sector, the report says.

The report goes into several other troubling federal personnel pitfalls—some quite familiar. Experience is valuable, and agism is not good or legal—but the federal workforce is out-o-balance on age at many agencies, with an aging workforce not being joined by enough young employees. Overall, the report states, employees over 50 outnumber employees under 30 by seven to one.

“To deliver for the American people now and in the future, and competently respond to inevitable crises, the government must be able to recruit and hire a world-class workforce. Yet the federal recruiting and hiring process is in drastic need of repair,” the report warns. 

The report comes along with a number of recommendations for the next presidential term, useful whichever candidate prevails—indeed, recommendations that if implemented, the nonprofit argues, would go far toward alleviating some of the most stubborn and enduring staffing problems.

“The Partnership has identified key issues that the next administration—a second Trump term or first-term Biden team—should make a priority: leadership and stewardship, talent, innovation and technology modernization, and collaboration,” the PPS release stated.


Reader comments

Thu, Oct 22, 2020 Mad Fed

Federal hiring needs to understand the term "TRANSFERABLE SKILLS!"

Tue, Oct 20, 2020

Low pay, bad moral, corrupt hiring and promotion practices all add up to mass exodus.

Tue, Oct 20, 2020

Really? With the way the current and former presidents and administration have treated federal employees over the years, why would any one consider civil service employment. The reduction in benefits, pay and corrupt hiring practices that continue at the Big Outfit in Bethesda, because of age and gender bias, health conditions bias and dirty managers why any one would consider a position is beyond many.

Mon, Oct 19, 2020 L May Oakland

Recruitment is not handle properly... Rehiring ex federal employees is even worse.Individuals that are making the decisions are not taking pass experience in consideration which ends with people wrongly place or not placed at all.

Mon, Oct 19, 2020 MARTY NY

Can't say that I see much concern about this issue in the leadesrhip at the federal research lab that I am at - lots of lip service but not much else

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