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News Release

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402

"It Can Be Done: OPM Beats 45-Day Hiring Model"

OPM hires 278 people over nine months, to average 36 days per new employee

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, consistent with guidance provided to agencies governmentwide, has overhauled its own internal processes to hire 278 employees over the course of nine months, at an average of 36 days per hire.

In a memorandum issued May 6, 2004, to the heads of departments and agencies, OPM Director Kay Coles James encouraged the governmentwide adoption of a 45-day hiring model developed in-house by HR policy experts and program officials. The model is now being used by managers and HR practitioners inside the agency, and as a result, OPM has clipped 16 days off the average time it takes to bring new employees onto its own rolls.

James is challenging other agencies to at least meet the 45-day model in order to better serve Americans seeking to join the civil service.

"Our results prove it can be done," said James. "We have hired 278 people into a variety of important occupations, and many of these quality hires have been assigned to work directly with federal agencies to revive and redesign their internal hiring practices. We are in a competition with the private sector for talent, and OPM is doing what it can to help agencies hire the very best job candidates."

The results of OPM's hiring efficiency were reported for the nine-month period beginning October 1, 2003, and ending June 30, 2004. The efforts of James, who is President George W. Bush's primary consultant on federal human resources issues, were the driving force behind results that reduced the agency's average hiring time to 36 days, down from 52 days in another nine-month period.

James credited the OPM professional staff for the accomplishment, citing partnerships of managers and hiring professionals who made intelligent use of various hiring flexibilities, where appropriate, particularly for mission-critical positions.

Under this up-tempo pace, the 278 individuals hired by OPM are employed as human resources specialists, human capital officers, policy analysts and facility infrastructure specialists.

In terms of OPM's 36-day timeline, "hiring time" is defined as beginning one day after a vacancy announcement closes and ending the day a job offer is made to an applicant.

"Individuals who want to perform public service are a special breed, and we must respect them as skilled and intelligent individuals who likely have other professional options," said James. "Without this appreciation and without our show of respect -- a large part of which can be measured in making fast decisions on their futures -- then we do them and the American taxpayer a disservice."

Over the past year, James, as Chair of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, has urged -- and supported with technical assistance -- members of this body to implement a 45-day hiring model at their own agencies. In addition to the technical support of HR specialists, a position OPM has strengthened with its own new hires as a way to further serve agencies on this and other HR challenges, James issued in February 2004 a "Top-10" list of actions agencies can take to shorten hiring times.

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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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