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federal hiring

Image of a stressed out man in the background with transparent blue cover. Headline: BAN THE BOX.

Each year, more than 600,000 people are released from Federal and State prisons, and millions more are released from local jails. One in three working-age Americans has an arrest record. Many face long-term, sometimes lifelong, impacts of a criminal record that prevent them from getting a job or accessing housing, higher education, loans, credit, and more.  Such barriers hurt public safety, add costs to the taxpayer, and damage the fabric of our communities. Removing these barriers and promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of people who have paid their debt to society is a critical piece of the Administration’s efforts to make the nation’s criminal justice system more fair and effective.  

This week is National Reentry Week—a chance to call attention to the urgency of criminal justice reform and to highlight the ongoing work across the Federal government to remove barriers to reentry for people returning to their communities. Here at the Office of Personnel Management, we are doing our part.

Today, OPM issued a proposed rule that would ensure that applicants with a criminal history have a fair shot to compete for Federal jobs. The rule would effectively “ban the box” for a significant number of positions in the Federal Government by delaying the point in the hiring process when agencies can inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer is made. This change prevents candidates from being eliminated before they have a chance to demonstrate their qualifications.

Earlier inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history may discourage motivated, well-qualified individuals who have served their time from applying for a Federal job. Early inquiries could also lead to the premature disqualification of otherwise eligible candidates, regardless of whether an arrest actually resulted in a conviction, or whether consideration of an applicant’s criminal history is justified by business necessity. These barriers to employment unnecessarily narrow the pool of eligible and qualified candidates for federal employment, and also limit the opportunity for those with criminal histories to support themselves and their families.  

This Administration is committed to pursuing public policies that promote fairness and equality. As the nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government should lead the way and serve as a model for all employers – both public and private.

The proposed rule builds on the current practice of many agencies, which already choose to collect information on criminal history at late stages of the hiring process. The rule would take the important step to codify, formalize, and expand this best practice.

There are certain times when an agency might be justified in disqualifying an applicant with criminal history, or collecting information on their background, earlier in the process. Therefore, OPM will set up a mechanism for agencies to request exceptions. These will be granted on a case-by-case basis. These exceptions could be granted either by individual position, or by class of positions, depending on the specifics of the case. For example, cases could include certain law enforcement jobs that require the ability to testify in court, or jobs where applicants undergo extensive and costly training before they are offered a job.

Banning the box for Federal hiring is an important step. It sends a clear signal to applicants, agencies, and employers across the country that the Federal Government is committed to making it easier for those who have paid their debts to society to successfully return to their communities, while staying true to the merit system principles that govern our civil service by promoting fair competition between applicants from all segments of society.

To view the proposed rule, you can visit the Federal Register.


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One of the Office of Personnel Management’s key missions is helping agencies untie the “knots” in the hiring process, and our recent partnership with the National Park Service offers a good case study of how we do that.

Each year, all across the nation, the National Park Service hires seasonal employees to support the large number people who visit our national treasures. After a careful review of the service’s seasonal hiring process, the OPM-NPS partnership recently developed a pilot for announcing vacancies that will eliminate the redundancy and inefficiency of multiple job announcements by testing one announcement with multiple locations.

OPM also helped NPS craft more user-friendly job announcements that provide more specific information about individual parks where applicants can envision themselves working.

Just this week, the service celebrated 99 years of caring for our nation’s parks. I’m proud that by fulfilling our mission at OPM, we were able to help the NPS better achieve its mission of preserving our nation’s natural and cultural resources.

This is just one example of the important work that our team at OPM is doing to support hiring excellence across government. I look forward to sharing more examples as additional partnerships mature, and I hope that agencies will continue to take advantage of the comprehensive resources that OPM has available as we deliver on the promise of the President’s Management Agenda for the Federal Government.

Note to readers: Currently, applicants interested in seasonal positions at national parks in the southeast region of the United States can apply here and here.

- A photo of National Park tourists on a cliff being led by a National Park Ranger.

Photo Credit: National Park Service

One of the President’s highest management priorities is to make sure that all Federal employees have access to effective training. One way that OPM and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council are working together to support this priority is by sponsoring an interactive virtual human resources training conference on April 15 and 16.

The 2015 Virtual HR Training Conference’s theme is REDI for the Future. REDI stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion.  To fully implement the new REDI Roadmap, HR professionals must continue to build, develop, and retain a mission-driven workforce. The skills you can learn and the connections you can make at the conference will help you begin to untie hiring knots, form strategic partnerships, and better use data to drive your decisions.

The conference features more than 40 sessions in tracks that break down the essential core competencies HR professionals need. The five topic areas are:

  • Back-to-Basics – Learn about basic Federal HR functions, policies, programs, and processes.
  • Hiring Process – Discover Federal hiring flexibilities, how to accelerate hiring efforts, and how to acquire top talent for your agency.
  • Strategic Human Capital Management – Explore key tenets of strategic human capital management as outlined in OPM’s Human Capital Framework.
  • HR Innovations – Dive into emerging HR/HC solutions, trends, best practices, and innovations that are showing great promise in enhancing organizational performance.
  • Hiring Managers – Review HR/HC practices hiring managers should know in order to better recruit, engage, retain, and develop their employees.

Federal HR specialists deal with challenges that are complex, numerous, and ever-changing. The Virtual HR Training Conference is a unique opportunity for the Federal human resources and human capital communities to come together to identify critical issues and challenges, to share ideas and best practices, and to offer strategies and solutions across government.

Everyone benefits from training, regardless of their career stage. Through REDI, we want to ensure that Federal employees continue to be talented, well-trained, and engaged. The skills that you will develop, sharpen, and refine at the 2015 Virtual HR Training Conference are invaluable toward reaching that goal. Here’s how to sign-up.

Hands on a keyboard behind the text: '2015 Virtual HR Training Conference'

 

Four years ago, President Obama signed an Executive Order stressing the importance of hiring people with disabilities into the Federal government. He set a goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities. I am proud to say that we are more than halfway toward reaching that milestone.

OPM’s latest report on the employment of people with disabilities shows that the Federal government has hired people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any time in the past 33 years. In fiscal year 2013, 18 percent of new Federal hires were people with disabilities, a 1.9 percent increase over fiscal 2012. In the first three years of enacting the E.O., we have hired a total of 57,491 permanent employees with disabilities. Because of the hard work and dedication of Federal employees and the disability community, we have made outstanding progress toward meeting the President’s goal.

One of the things I love best about being Director of OPM is that I get to meet some of the dedicated and amazingly talented people who are devoting their lives to public service.

Let me tell you about Cynthia Hamilton, who works here at OPM. Cynthia came to us as an intern during her senior year at Gallaudet University, where she was finishing her degree in business management. When she graduated, Cynthia was able to move right into a full-time job as a human resources specialist. But she wasn’t sure whether the Federal government would accommodate her needs. Not only is Cynthia doing a great job, some of her colleagues at OPM have taken American Sign Language classes. She now wants to become a manager and let others who are deaf and hard of hearing know what’s possible in Federal service.  And she wants to see more people with disabilities get hired. So do I.

We need and we will hire more people like Cynthia, and we know we still have so much work to do. Our commitment to hiring, developing, and retaining more people with disabilities is not just about the numbers. It’s about making sure that we have a rich diversity of thought, of expertise, of experience, and of perspective throughout the government. 

As OPM Director, I am committed to making sure that the Federal government is a model employer. And that means our workforce must reflect the rich mosaic of the American people we serve.

I’m proud of the progress we have made. Stay tuned. There is more to come.

 


The Office of Personnel Management is proud to be part of the President’s effort to get long-term unemployed Americans back to work. As a part of his call to action, OPM this week issued guidance to Federal agencies that explains how we will be working with them to reduce barriers to employment, encourage recruitment and focus on hiring the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have the skills, experience and desire to serve the American people.

Americans who have been unemployed for a long time often have trouble finding a new job. We want to make sure that when they apply for Federal jobs, they are not passed over because of gaps in employment or because of financial circumstances beyond their control, like getting behind in mortgage payments during protracted periods of unemployment. We are also providing agencies with training and updated guidance on complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Act is used when applicants’ credit histories are reviewed as a part of determining whether they are suitable for employment. Also, to clarify Federal hiring policies, we've created a "myth buster" fact sheet that is available on OPM's new Recruitment Policy Studio.

It is crucial that we ensure that everyone has a fair shot at Federal jobs. As the chief HR officer for the Federal government, I take our responsibility to be a model employer very seriously. We will do everything we can to ensure that Americans who have the talent, the experience, and the desire to serve have an equal opportunity to do so.

image of graph of unemployment rate from 2010 to 2014 showing its decrease


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