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News Release

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Contact: Brendan LaCivita
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director James Provides Agencies with Steps to Speed Federal Hiring

James memorandum highlights top ten ways to immediately streamline federal hiring; emphasizes veterans' preference

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James today issued a memorandum (attached) to agency Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) offering ten ways they can immediately improve the federal hiring process.

"Improving the Federal hiring process has been one of my top priorities since I became Director of the Office of Personnel Management more than 2 years ago," James wrote in the memorandum. "New hiring flexibilities and authorities have the potential for dramatically improving our ability to get the right people in the right jobs at the right time."

First proposed by President Bush in his Freedom to Manage initiative, a number of new hiring flexibilities were enacted by Congress as part of the Chief Human Capital Officers Act of 2002. However, James noted that some agencies, because of outmoded internal rules and practices, have not yet implemented these new authorities. In response to a request that originated from agencies, James compiled a list of actions some agencies are already doing to drive changes in how they conduct hiring and recruitment.

Listed below are the top ten things agencies can do right now that will go a long way to enhance federal hiring and achieve results:

  • Eliminate self-wrapping red tape
  • Use plain language in job announcements
  • Recruit veterans
  • Adopt an accelerated hiring model
  • Recruit from college campuses
  • Offer incentives for talent
  • Utilize on-the-spot hiring authority
  • Leverage other new hiring flexibilities
  • Go after outstanding scholars
  • Fully engage agency HR staff

Also in the memorandum, James asked agency CHCOs to begin tracking "time to hire" -- particularly for mission-critical jobs -- from the time a vacancy is identified to when it is actually filled. James asked agency CHCOs to demand improvements in customer service and automation, and to report what improvements have been made to OPM Human Capital Officers, so that they can identify best practices and benchmarks that will improve the federal hiring process.

"We all know what gets measured gets done, and you should apply this principle to the hiring process," James wrote in the memorandum to agencies.

In another memorandum (attached), James provided agency CHCOs with information on recruitment tools to hire college students and recent college graduates. The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP); Student Career Experience Program (SCEP); Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP); and the Outstanding Scholar Program are all tools designed to encourage students to consider careers in the federal government.

"With new hiring authorities and recruitment tools available to federal hiring managers, OPM is sending out a message that federal teammates must place a greater emphasis on our efforts to do timely hiring," James remarked.

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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