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News Release

Friday, June 04, 2004
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Survey Confirms the Promise of Hiring Flexibilities Remains Unfulfilled

Director Kay Coles James calls for agency commitment to find and hire the best candidates

Washington, D.C. -- A governmentwide survey on "what ails" the federal hiring process finds human resources flexibilities and tools granted by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to expedite quality hires are not being used effectively by agencies, nor to the fullest extent possible.

The "Working for America: Agency Survey on Improving Federal Hiring" also concludes that OPM must "launch an agency by agency effort to highlight and remedy the gaps that keep the federal government from realizing its human capital potential."

"Under President Bush's leadership, it is clear we have made significant progress in improving the hiring process, and making federal job information and jobs accessible and available to all qualified Americans," said U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James. "Americans who have heard the call to public service and wish to serve their nation deserve hiring processes that will answer their interest in a more-timely manner."

Toward this end, OPM has revamped its popular USAJOBS web site ( and recently launched a redesigned, online vacancy announcement format that will help agencies more fully communicate the job responsibilities to prospective applicants.

"We must be committed to finding, interviewing and hiring the best-qualified people," said James. "As agencies make better use of USAJOBS to promote themselves and the incredible array of job opportunities, government and taxpayers will benefit with a stronger applicant pool and highly qualified hires."

The survey's appendices include James' February 10, 2004, memorandum to Chief Human Capital Officers on 10 actions agencies can take immediately to improve federal hiring, as well as a list of a dozen hiring flexibilities and resources, such as the Outstanding Scholar Program, recruitment bonuses and veterans appointment authorities.

To the survey question that asks for the identification of internal barriers and outmoded practices that interfere with hiring the best candidates in a timely fashion, the most frequent response offered is that hiring officials and program managers too often act as competitors, rather than as teammates with common interests and goals.

The survey also found that factions within agencies often compete against each other, rather than come together in a common interest and single goal.

"With all we have accomplished over the past three years," said James, "the survey confirms that additional work must be driven internally with the agencies if we are to encourage the talented college graduate, the dedicated military veteran and the mid-career, experienced worker to commit and contribute to federal public service."

The survey was completed in May by the Chief Human Capital Officers or their designees of 45 federal agencies. James chairs the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council, which endorsed the survey as a means to establish baseline information on agency use of hiring flexibilities.

In setting the pace, OPM has devised and used a 45-day hiring model to employ outstanding senior executives and rank-and-file employees. The hiring model is available for agency use.

While OPM acts as a facilitator in getting flexibilities and tools into the hands of agencies, the report accompanying the survey notes that "it is up to the agency to determine whether and when to use" them, adding that organizations that ignore the authorities "will not realize the full benefit" of measures that can bring about improvement.

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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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