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Speeches & Remarks

Remarks of OPM Director John Berry

Launch of Hiring Reform Initiative

TRB Campbell Auditorium

May 11, 2010

Good afternoon. I'm thrilled to be here at OPM with our partners to tell you about President Obama's hiring reform initiative. Today, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum to modernize the Federal hiring process, and today, we roll out OPM's implementation guidance. This initiative is the biggest step toward fixing Federal hiring in over three decades and the capstone of a year-long effort.

I'd like to thank Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Scott Gould, Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, and Undersecretary of Defense Dr. Clifford Stanley for being here.

A very special thank you to our government's Chief Performance Officer, Jeff Zients from OMB.

I thank Senators Akaka and Voinovich and our Congressional partners for their leadership on hiring reform.

We support their efforts to move legislation through Congress that would codify much of what we are doing today.

Thanks to our Chief Human Capital Officers. They've been essential in pushing for reform from the beginning. Dean David Ellwood and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government were important early facilitators. They helped us brainstorm creative solutions at a conference they hosted last Fall for our stakeholders, including innovative private sector employers who shared some great ideas with us.

We've enjoyed a constructive partnership with Federal unions on this and other initiatives, and I'm glad to have them with us today.

And to our hiring reform team at OPM, many of whom are in the audience - there are too many to name, but you know who you are. Thank you! These reforms would not have been possible without a year of hard work and many, many long days put in by a lot of OPMers.

President Obama has, and I quote, "call[ed] on executive departments and agencies to overhaul the way they recruit and hire our civilian workforce." The message could not be more clear: we have a problem, the President has told us how he wants it fixed, and the Cabinet is focused on fixing it.

Hiring process reform isn't the most exciting topic, but it's extremely important, because it affects everything government does. Yet for far too long, our HR systems have been a hindrance. We have great workers in government now in spite of the hiring process, not because of it. As they retire, it's tough to replace them when it takes five months on average to hire someone. Or when there are 40 steps to the process and 19 signatures.

After years of talking about reform, we're taking action. We're making it quicker and easier to connect the best candidates with Federal jobs. Let me tell you how this helps hiring managers, HR shops, and job seekers themselves.

To start, we're switching to resumes. Now for the first time in history, you will be able to apply to almost any Federal job with just a resume and cover letter. We've eliminated KSA essays as an initial requirement! This will save applicants millions of person hours and money too.

We've eliminated red tape so hiring managers can view the full range of qualified applicants. No more "rule of three" limiting how many resumes you can see. Shared registers have already launched, shaving five to ten weeks off the hiring process, depending on the agency. We're giving hiring managers more control over hiring and workforce planning processes. We're providing training on how to use these new powers legally, and holding hiring managers accountable for improvement.

Even the best reforms will fail without support. So OPM has been preparing for months to provide HR shops with unprecedented, comprehensive, ongoing support.

The detailed OPM guidance memo we're signing today is only the first step. Tomorrow, we'll give a nuts-and-bolts briefing to government's HR leaders. We're launching an HR-to-HR blog and sending out Mobile Assistance Teams.

To be clear, this initiative respects our highest ideals. The merit principles are sacrosanct, and these reforms will honor them. Veterans' preference is part of our nation's sacred duty to our returning service members. That's why we launched the biggest, most comprehensive, most high-level veterans hiring initiative in history in November.

This reform effort is unlike previous ones because these improvements are going into effect Government-wide by order of the President. This initiative is about simplicity, flexibility, and efficiency. It will substantially reduce the time and aggravation it takes to find and hire the best.

When we achieve that goal, all of government will work better and the American people will benefit. Thank you.

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