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In his 1910 speech Citizenship in a Republic, Theodore Roosevelt – the “father” of civil service reform – famously asserted that the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena rather than those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory nor defeat. These words have resonated in my mind over the last couple of years, as my agency – OPM – undertook a number of significant, and needed, changes to reform Federal hiring.

It is rare to have opportunities to impact and shape Federal hiring processes – and the Federal workforce – for generations to come. Yet, the President’s Hiring Reform Initiatives have provided OPM such opportunities. My specific opportunity, my role, during these very exciting times, is as one of the project managers for OPM’s Hiring Reform Initiative called Assess. Assess is the future of Federal hiring. Assess utilizes state-of-the-art technology and professional testing practices to evaluate applicants on critical competencies needed for Federal jobs.

Assess empowers applicants by providing online access to required assessments. Applicants make the decision of when - and where – they want to complete the assessments. Applicants completing the required assessments are placed into quality categories. With required assessments targeting the critical competencies of a job, hiring managers are sent applicants in the highest quality category – the best of the best. Through the blend of innovative technology and proven testing practices, Assess reduces applicant burden; shortens hiring times; and yields only the highest quality applicants for hire.

After almost a year of dedicated and targeted efforts, on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm EST the first applicant was given access to Assess. The future had officially arrived. Upon hearing the news, I couldn’t shake the image of a former President from the early 20th century smiling - Federal hiring had been re-shaped.

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