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About Us / Our Mission, Role & History / Agency Equity Action Plan / Equity Action Plan of Applicant Flow Data

Equity Action Plan of Applicant Flow Data


Barrier to Equitable Outcome(s)

Applicant Flow Data (AFD) is the demographic information voluntarily provided by applicants for Federal job opportunities through the website. When submitting a job application, applicants have the option to include information on their sex, race/ethnicity, and disability status, authorized by the Demographic Information on Applicants form (OMB No: 3046-0046). After a job opportunity announcement is closed, certificates issued under the announcement are audited, and after all hiring actions for the announcement are completed, anonymized, and aggregated, AFD information can be combined with other indicators to show applicants’ progress through major milestones in the hiring process, including application, qualification, referral, and selection (retrospective view).

Federal agencies are responsible for accessing any available anonymized, post-audit AFD through their talent acquisition system (e.g., USA Staffing, Monster, or other systems), in addition to other data sources, to undertake barrier analyses. Barrier analysis is a process used to identify, evaluate, and, where appropriate, remedy any policies, procedures, and/or practices that may lead to disparities in the hiring process for individuals seeking Federal employment. OPM’s role in this process is to ensure agencies have access to anonymized, post-audit AFD and to collaborate with EEOC to provide tools and training for agencies on their use of post-audit AFD.

Post-audit AFD trends consistently show a drop-off in representation for certain groups as the hiring process progresses. OPM’s equity assessment illuminated several challenges that may prevent agencies from fully using post-audit AFD as part of the materials to identify and mitigate barriers to Federal employment. These challenges primarily relate to data gaps that limit AFD’s ability to be a comprehensive data source, the lack of capacity on the part of staff in Federal agencies to analyze, interpret, and use the data (in conjunction with other materials), and uncertainty on how the data could be used beyond compliance reporting (such as MD-715 reporting). Addressing these challenges could better position agencies to address any disparities among demographic groups as they move through the hiring process. This work is particularly important as the Federal government begins to recruit and hire new employees, as a result of the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Action and Intended Impact on Barrier

OPM will undertake the following actions, in partnership with the EEOC in some cases, to expand Federal agency access to post-audit AFD and strengthen the capacity of Federal agencies to analyze, interpret, and use post-audit AFD.

  • Expand Federal agency access to post-audit AFD. These actions will provide agencies with an easily accessible, comprehensive dataset that will enable more detailed analysis on barriers in the hiring process.
    • Redesign the USA Staffing AFD Data Warehouse to improve usability and include additional data items, including measuring additional phases of the hiring process, as requested by agencies to expand the analysis possible through AFD.
    • Develop a new API (Application Programming Interface) to allow agencies to systematically retrieve bulk AFD for their organizations to reduce time and processing capacity required for analysts to retrieve AFD for their agency.
    • Implement a new reporting tool (Power BI) to enable more interactive reports and dashboards to ease agency burden in post-audit AFD analysis.
    • Provide reports to agencies on their announcements with unaudited certificates so they can take action, such as closing out the hiring process and auditing the outstanding certificates, to enable OPM to release any additional AFD to the relevant agencies.
    • Explore changes to the USAJOBS user experience to increase the number of applicants who voluntarily choose to provide their demographic information.
    • Develop guidance for how to provide post-audit summarized AFD to agency leadership and managers/supervisors to inform efforts to mitigate barriers in the hiring process for future recruitment efforts.
    • Collaborate with EEOC and consider modifications to the AFD collection form to include additional data items in response to recent Executive Orders and adhere to DEIA best practice, including adding sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) categories.
  • Strengthen the capacity of Federal agencies to analyze, interpret, and use anonymized, post-audit AFD. These actions will help agencies build the knowledge and skills to more effectively analyze and use anonymized, post-audit AFD.
    • Survey AFD analysts and others expected to routinely use the data to gather information on skills and training needs.
    • Develop position descriptions, job announcement content, competency models, and other hiring artifacts to provide agencies with tools to recruit and select analysts with the skills and background to effectively analyze their hiring processes, using, among other data sources, anonymized, post-audit AFD.
    • Collaborate with EEOC to develop new training resources and analytical tools to better prepare agency analysts to use anonymized, post-audit AFD as one of the data sources used for barrier analyses.
    • Facilitate an AFD analyst community across government to share ideas and information on how to effectively access and use AFD.

Tracking Progress

OPM will rely on data sources such as USAJOBS, USA Staffing, and a new survey of AFD practitioners to track progress on these actions, including the following measures:

  • Near- to mid-term (two to four years)
    • Number of new hiring phases included in AFD
    • New demographic response options in the AFD collection form (e.g., SOGI)
    • Percentage of applicants who choose to provide their demographic information
    • Number and percentage of announcements with unaudited certificates
    • Percentage of agency leaders (e.g. executives, managers, supervisors) who report they reviewed post-audit summarized AFD for their organizations for future recruitment efforts and potential barrier analyses
    • Percentage of AFD analysts who report that they have the knowledge and tools to do their jobs
  • Long-term (five to eight years)
    • Disparities among demographic groups as they move through the hiring process


OPM will hold itself accountable to these actions by including AFD-focused strategies and goals in the FY 2022-2026 OPM Strategic Plan. OPM developed a related FY 2022-2023 Agency Priority Goal and related research questions for OPM’s FY 2022-2026 Learning Agenda. As a service provider, OPM is also held accountable for AFD features by its agency customers, including an AFD Customer Workgroup that meets quarterly. OPM will use the AFD Customer Workgroup to provide progress updates on these actions, share new tools and resources, and gather feedback from Federal agencies.