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News Release

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Contact: John Marble
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM & OMB Announce Unprecedented Hiring Reforms

Measures Cut Previous Red Tape Clogging the Federal Hiring System; Allow Government to Leverage Technology and Private Sector Best Practices

Washington, DC - Today, Director John Berry of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and U.S. Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients announced a major overhaul of the Federal hiring process, detailing crucial reforms ordered by President Obama. Speaking at OPM headquarters alongside Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Berry detailed President Obama's initiative to bring a 21st Century approach to the Federal hiring system. The announcement was made before an audience including high-ranking officials from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs, as well as Federal employees and private sector human resource experts. This announcement came shortly after President Obama issued a memorandum to Federal agencies directing them to overhaul their hiring procedures within 180 days.

"Federal workers fill crucial roles that defend Americans from terrorism, infectious diseases, food-borne pathogens, forest fires and countless other threats. We can't afford delays in filling these jobs, nor can we rely on a system that causes qualified candidates to give up in frustration. President Obama and I believe that we must cut the red tape clogging the Federal hiring process in order to bring aboard outstanding applicants quickly," OPM Director John Berry said at the announcement event. "President Obama has undertaken a series of reforms today that aren't so much steps, as leaps forward. I understand the frustration of every applicant who previously has had to wade through the arcane Federal hiring process. If qualified applicants want to serve our country through the Federal service, then our application process should facilitate that. These reforms are concrete, broad, and will help us do just that. They honor core merit system principles and the sacrifice of the men and women serving our country by preserving their veteran's preference. And, these reforms will save the American taxpayer money and free up scarce resources that will allow Federal agencies to better serve our nation."

"The best talent doesn't wait around for 140 days - they find another job," said Chief Performance Officer Jeff Zients. "We need to streamline our hiring process to make it more competitive and candidate-friendly. Across twenty years in the private sector, I've seen that the best performing organizations focus on people as their most important tool for improving performance.  It is time for the federal government to start doing the same."

"These steps taken by President Obama align the Federal workforce with the best practices of the private sector in terms of recruiting and hiring talent," said Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. "These reforms are straightforward and simplify the process for job applicants seeking to serve their country."

"We should be encouraging the best candidates to enter Federal service, rather than dissuading them through an outdated, lengthy process that leaves both applicants and hiring managers frustrated," said Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.  "The President's reforms give me the tools I need to reduce the red tape in our Department.  The ability to process and assess applicants more efficiently saves the American taxpayer money."

At the announcement event, Director Berry outlined steps that President Obama has taken to reform the Federal hiring and recruitment process.

In his Memorandum, President Obama directed Federal agencies to:

  • Dramatically reduce the time between when a job is announced and is filled.
  • Eliminate essay-s as an initial application requirement. Essays may still be used later in the process. Under the previous system, if an individual applied for five separate Federal jobs, he or she often needed to complete five separate sets of lengthy essays.
  • Use shorter, plain-language job announcements.
  • Accept resumes from applicants, instead of requiring them to submit complex applications through outdated systems.
  • Allow hiring managers to choose from among a group of best qualified candidates, rather than limiting their choice to just three names, through expanded use of "category ratings."
  • Notify applicants in a timely manner (and at four points in the process) through - eliminating the "black hole" that applicants often feel they when they get no response to their application.
  • Submit a hiring and recruitment plan for top talent to OPM by the end of this year.
  • Have all Cabinet-level and Senior Administration Officials visiting universities or colleges on official business incorporate time to discuss career opportunities in the Federal service with students.

Additionally, the President directed OPM to:

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is also launching a web site that will continue to guide Federal agencies and hiring managers through this change at: .


For complete details on hiring reform - including additional measures taken by President Obama and the Office of Personnel Management, a Video News Release and webcast of the entire press conference, please visit

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The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the leader in workforce management for the federal government. Our agency builds, strengthens, and serves a federal workforce of 2.2 million employees with programs like hiring assistance, healthcare and insurance, retirement benefits, and much more. We provide agencies with policies, guidance, and best practices for supporting federal workers, so they can best serve the American people.

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