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Speeches & Remarks

Remarks of OPM Director John Berry

Hiring Reform First Anniversary Event

National Press Club

May 18, 2011

Hello! Thank you, Tom [Shoop], for the introduction. It's great to be here with all of you to celebrate the first anniversary of hiring reform. [Acknowledgements.]

We have made a lot of progress in the first year, and I believe we'll see even more progress in the year to come.

Before we get into the numbers, let me put today in context. Every few decades since our merit-based hiring system was created in 1883, we've made reforms to adapt our workforce for our ever-changing nation. The last major reforms including the creation of OPM, took place in the late 1970s.

Much has changed since then, but our hiring system hadn't adapted. Applicants didn't understand it and didn't want to deal with it, and it was too slow. President Obama saw that this had to change. Only a modern system would attract the next wave of the best and brightest workers to replace our great workers who are retiring.

So we at OPM collaborated with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, the agencies, and OMB to develop recommendations for the President. Then he signed the Presidential Memorandum on Hiring Reform one year ago this month.

The next day, with Cabinet members, deputy secretaries, Jeff Zients of OMB, CHCOs and other senior officials, we released OPM's detailed guidance about how we would work with agencies to help them realize the President's vision of a modern hiring process.

Since then, we've moved out jointly with great leadership across the government, as you'll hear today. OPM has supported the agencies with 351 trainings in 66 cities for 17,300 of our people involved in the hiring process.

And it's working.

We're hiring based on resumes and cover letters 91% of the time, up from 39% in 2009. We've gotten off of KSA-island - 96% of our job opportunity announcements no longer require KSA essays, also up from 39% in 2009.

Hiring managers now have more choices - they get to see more resumes, because 89% of our announcements have category rating, up from only 12% in 2009. No more Rule of Three.

Applicants are now seeing shorter, easy-to-read job announcements; 86% are in plain language, and 66% are five pages or fewer, up from 55 and 24%, respectively.

And our time to hire has gotten shorter, down about 15% to a government-wide average of 105 days.

These are major accomplishments, but we're not done yet. We're gonna keep pushing to get all those indicators higher, time to hire lower, and applicant quality up.

And we're doing even more.

Earlier this year, we launched Assess, a growing set of state of the art assessment tools. They allow agencies to see how prospective employees would actually perform in situations they're likely to encounter on the job.

Just this month, we launched USAJOBSRecruit, an online community of practice for our recruiters across government. It has information and guidance, and also discussion forums and blogs - so people can share and build on recruitment ideas collaboratively.

Like everything we're doing, this is based on long, detailed discussion with HR professionals and hiring managers across government telling us what THEY need to provide their critical services to the American people.

You want a place to swap ideas and collaborate? Alright, we'll build it.

This engagement is working. Guess how long it took the first 250 HR staffers to sign up for Recruit? 11 minutes. A couple weeks later, we're over 2,700. They've started the collision of ideas that produces innovation, in an open platform where those innovations can get directly to the staffers at each agency who need them. This will result in better recruiting, better agency performance, and better results for the American people.

I've spoken recently about government's need to innovate to meet the challenges of today. Our hiring reform initiative is a great example of innovation. I encouraged OPM's career leaders to be very focused on the results, and to be very open about the process and how they got there. Then they broke out of internal agency silos and pulled together to get it done.

Angie Bailey and her team led an open consultative process, involving agencies and outside stakeholders. They used new technologies and social media to reach more people and make their trainings more engaging.

Joseph Kennedy and his team are continually collaborating with the agencies to review data, identify key challenges, and solve them. And Jeff Sumberg, our head of Merit System Audit and Compliance, and his team are tracking overall progress in newer, more immediate ways. He handed this task to his field leaders and let them divide it among themselves so they could efficiently distribute the work around the country rather than micromanage from the top.

Innovation is definitely coming from this collaboration.

To be clear, there are still too many frustrated applicants and hiring managers out there. We need to continue to follow through on our original goals. Assess and Recruit must continue to grow and evolve over the next year and beyond. Together, these reforms will help us reach the goals of all of our intertwined hiring initiatives - including hiring a diverse workforce with more veterans, more people with disabilities, and more students and recent graduates.

Each of those experiences and characteristics gives that person more approaches to solving a problem, more people she can identify with, greater perspective on life in America. That's what we're striving for; that's the workforce that will best serve the American people.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States.

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